36th Division in World War II

MEMORIAL DAY, 1945, GERMANY

Shoulder to shoulder, the living pay tribute to fallen comrades in a ceremony in Kaufbeuren square.

On Memorial Day, 24 days after the Victory, composite battalions of troops representing all units of the Division, stood formation before the City Hall in Kaufbeuren to pay honor to the memory of their fallen comrades.

General Dahlquist summed it up this way: "Americans have gathered each Memorial Day for years to pay tribute to their soldier dead. And in all parts of the world today such meetings are being held. But to no other group and in no other place can the day mean as much as it does to us, members of the Division which has just finished 20 months of combat through Italy, France and Germany.

"From September 9, 1943, on the beaches of Salerno, Italy, to May 8, 1945, deep in the Austrian Tyrol, this Division spent hundreds of days in battle. Over 6,000 of our comrades gave their lives during that period for us, for their nation, for the world. There is not one among us who has not lost cherished and dear friends. We cannot, so long as we live, forget these men because we lived with them and fought with them. They are, in fact, a part of us.

"We who have participated in this war in Europe, have seen with our eyes the human degradation of the Nazi system. Our world, our American way of life, could not have continued if Naziism had been permitted to exist.

"But stop them we did. No nation in the history of the modern world has been so completely defeated. Their entire country is under our complete domination. The rats who were their leaders have either killed themselves or are in custody awaiting trial. We took one of those leaders. Instead of the strutting, vain, head of the air force who had boasted that Berlin could never be bombed, we found a flabby, sweating weasel, who was only too anxious to squeal on his pals in the vain hope that his own neck might he spared.

The citizens of Kaufbeuren, bearing out pronounced reverence for military ceremony, lined both sides of the street to see what was going on. Their curiosity about the Americans continued unabated throughout the period that the 36th occupied the town.

"We know, therefore, that our cause was just and that our honored dead did not die in vain. The struggle is not over. On the other side of the world thousands of our comrades are still locked in a life and death fight with another enemy, as cunning, as bestial, as cruel, as was the German Nazi. But Victory here made certain Victory in the Pacific. Only when Japan lies prostrate as Germany will the task of the soldier be done.

"When that task is done, there will still remain one, a continuing one, the task of seeing to it that Naziism can never rise again. That is the task which we as citizens who are also veterans of the world's greatest war, must never forget.

"Only thus will we really honor those men to whom we pay homage today, our fallen comrades."

 

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