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Nazi concentration camp survivor and liberator reunite in North Alabama

Video credit: WAAY ABC Huntsville, AL
Published on April 29, 2020 -

Nazi concentration camp survivor and liberator reunite in North Alabama

Nazi concentration camp survivor and liberator reunite in North Alabama 75 years later

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Nazi concentration camp survivor and liberator reunite in North Alabama

While we are currently fighting an "invisible" enemy - the coronavirus, today also marks a historic moment when our country defeated atrocities committed by a much different enemy.

The liberation of the dachau concentration camp.

In nazi germany.

Last month - "honored legacies for veterans" invited waay 31's pat simon to capture a common bond between two north alabama men - one is a survivor of that death camp and the other - his liberator.

"hello bob .

Nice to meet you i'm james.

Pleased to meet you james."

To be clear, when we first met bob sawada and jim feezel ... "what division were you with?"

Social distancing "jim how are you?"

Wasn't at all a part of our daily lives.

"nice to meet you jim."

And that turned out to be kind of a blessing for this long- anticipated "reunion" in early march.

Bob sawada "i think you were sent by god.

God sent you."

Because the reason these two men were brought here together, needed to be experienced ... way less than six feet apart.

Bob sawada "i thing you were sent by god.

God sent you."

"this is the people that we worshiped.

We needed."

A single moment that they experienced 75 years ago - bob sawada - dachau survivor "because i was frightened.

And i'll never forget that."

Defined the rest of their lives.

"that's when it change.

They world changed."

Huntsville resident bob sawada was born in poland a handful of years before the start of world war two.

He saw tragedy early on as a child - witnessing the tramatic death of his parents at the hands of german soldiers.

"just imagine all of a sudden you have no mother and no father.

The only one i had is my sister.

They didn't bother her."

He was forced to work in a number of nazi german labor camps.

Eventually - he was sent here to dachau - the longest running concentration camp - where over 200-thousand political prisoners - mostly jews - were subjected to horrific conditions - starvation - beatings.

And almost 32-thousand people were slaughtered.

Jim feezel - dachau liberator "we wandered into a mesed up world."

On april 29th, 1945 - decatur native jim feezel - with the 12th armored division - had dachau in his sights.

His commander gave the order.

Jim feezel - dachau liberator "he said jim - put this tank through that gate.

So i put the tank through the gate."

Bob sawada - dachau survivor "we seen 'em coming and we couldn't believe it.

We couldn't believe it.

I don't know.

It was just."

Feezel and the americans set free thousands of malnourished and mistreated captives including the man sitting right next to him.

Bob sawada - dachau survivor "the gate of my baracks was not too far away.

Maybe about a couple of hundred yards."

Yep - that close - leaving them to wonder if they actually met that day 75 years ago.

Jim feezel - dachau liberator "you know, i thought the possibility that he could have been that man that tried to walk to my tank and didn't have enough energy to get there.

These days - while the rest of us are fighting the current "invisible" enemy sometimes losing track of our days - you won't soon forget why these two men now have even more reason to celebrate - in defeating a much different - yet cruel enemy - hate.

Bob sawada "thank god, i'm hear talking to my liberator ..."

Jim feezel "well, i am proud of that fact you know.

Proud that i lived through it also to be able to come home and tell a few people what little bit in huntsville - pat simon - waay 31 news.

Pat tells us there is one more part of this story.

After the war, bob sawada was eventually adopted by an army major and eventually became an american citizen.

He immediately enlisted into the army and served two tours of duty in vietnam along with tours in korea and germany.

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