Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cowley Letters To Kennedy


Kathleen Cowley
(For Commentors
Address and Phone Available on request)

November 24, 2007

Senator Edward Kennedy
2400 J.F.K. Federal Building
Boston, Ma 02203

Dear Senator Kennedy,

In Germany in April of 1945 my father, Edward Paul Cowley, Thomas Manthey and a company of soldiers of the 94th Infantry Division came upon a camp filled with suffering and dying prisoners, they stayed for a few hours and then were told to move on as medical help was arriving shortly. They came home from the war and rebuilt their lives as citizens. They silently suffered, each in their own way, with the memories of the horrors they had witnessed. They never looked for recognition as “liberators”.

These humble soldiers seemed unaware that it was their toil and progress that had freed the victims from their captures. During the war my father wrote home to his family as often as possible.

My grandmother, Catherine Cowley cherished every letter, carefully catalogued them and held them in safekeeping. In one letter dated April 29th, 1945, my father wrote that he had witnessed the atrocities. Certainly had my proud grandmother ever known that she held documentation that her son and his comrades had liberated a concentration camp and that the 94th wasn’t recognized- she would have written this letter herself many years ago.

So on behalf of my grandmother Catherine Cowley, my father Edward Paul Cowley, my entire family, Thomas Manthey and his family, the other brave soldiers of the 94th Infantry Division and the untold victims and their families of the holocaust, I formally request that the 94th Infantry Division be officially recognized as a liberating unit. It is long due.


Kathleen Cowley

P.S. In my last letter I incorrectly wrote that my father has three battle stars, in fact he has four- Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe

Cc: Donald Mulry- 94th Division Historian Dr. Joseph White- Center for Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum


Senator Edward M. Kennedy
2400 JFK Federal Building Government Center
Boston, MA 02203 January 28, 2008

Dear Senator Kennedy

Thank you very much for contacting me regarding The Center of Military History’s disappointing reply. I was aware of their response and contacted Atman Trivedi at Sen. Kerry’s office. Through his assistant Dillon Guthrie I have received the Army History Bulletin containing the guidelines, which I have attached. Mr. Shirer’s rigid interpretation of the guidelines for the process of recognition is in question. Upon reading the guidelines, it becomes clear that the Army greatly valued the role of liberators and their intent was that every unit involved in liberation be recognized, as they “deserve to be honored and remembered by all”. One would think that an Army historian would relish this fleeting opportunity to properly document history.

The guidelines state that an individual or association seeking recognition “USUALLY provides the name of the camp that it liberated, the APPROXIMATE DATES of the liberation, the unit’s geographical location at the time, and a brief account of the events, SOMETIMES including information on the division’s sub-units that entered the camp”. The words “usually”, “approximate” and “sometimes” indicate that the Amy was allowing latitude, leeway in the requirements for recognition. We have not one, but two primary source accounts of that day, from my father Edward Cowley and Thomas Manthey, The geographic location and approximate date are supported in the primary source, the Unit Operational Records, which were obtained through your efforts. My father’s letter dated April 29th, 1945 “conforms to the documentary context established in the official records”, the Unit Operational Records, regarding date and supports the recent testimonies.

I was told by Mr. Shirer himself that the camp must be an extermination camp. Units have been recognized for liberating camps other than the 6 extermination camps. Nowhere in the guidelines is there a distinction of what sort of camp liberated be required for recognition. My father’s testimony states that there were “hundreds of dead and dying people”. Is that not enough suffering to consider it a concentration camp? This is deplorable treatment of our veterans. They were not personally pursuing recognition; they relived that day for their division, the 94th. The horrors they witnessed were truly unspeakable for 62 years and they faced those memories not for their own recognition but for their own heroes, the fallen soldiers and their still living friends and comrades of the 94th.

I do not have the heart to tell my father or Thomas Manthey of the response of utter disregard from their own army. This year the 94th is having their convention in Washington on Memorial Day Weekend. 1000 WWII vets are dying daily. It seems likely that this will be their last convention in Washington. MY father and Thomas Manthey plan to attend. They, all the brave soldiers of the 94th, deserve to see their flag flown at the Holocaust Museum and I will do everything possible to that end.

It has been suggested that the director of the Center of U.S. Military History, Sara Bloomfield, be made aware of this situation. Please continue in your efforts to see the 94th recognized. I’m truly hoping that it will be the support and determination of one of America’s finest sons, Senator Edward M. Kennedy that will put history to right.


Kathleen Cowley

P.S. I have just spoken with Donald Mulry, the 94th Division historian, who has been planning the convention. He was very disheartened as a planned ceremony at Arlington Cemetery seems to be falling through. He said “it would only happen with a miracle”. So of course I thought you might like to know and could possibly provide some help with that ceremony.


bob praino said...

My father served in the 94th. It was during a documentary about the Holocaust he mentioned how his group came upon a camp. He didn't say much except that the survivors were so thin that he could carry one in each arm as he lifted them to the truck where they received assistance. It would be nice if something was done. He was not from Boston, but from NYC

Michael Melland said...

My Uncle, also in the 94th Division, was also at the camp... in fact, IIRC he has some sort of marker he picked up at the camp as a souvineer. IIRC he told me it was a slave labor camp, although by the time they liberated it, it was essentially a death camp. My Uncle (T5 William Kelsey) was one of those truck drivers... he towed a 105mm howitzer all over europe as part of the 94th Division.

oldseahag said...

Michael, That is very exciting! I contacted Sen. Kerry's office and they asked if you could send a photo of the marker, your Uncle's battalion, company and approximate location of the camp? Thank you so much for contacting us!!!