A Holocaust survivor returned an American flag to the family of a soldier who had given him the gift, the sole memento from his war-torn childhood that he kept for 67 years.
Stephan Ross, now 81, was ten years old when U.S. serviceman Steve Sattler came across him, emaciated and terrified at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
After handing over his rations to the boy during the 1945 liberation, Sattler then gave the ten-year-old his handkerchief decorated with the Stars and Stripes.
Stephan Ross (pictured in striped jacket) hugs family of soldier Steven Sattler who liberated him from Dachau concentration camp, 67 years ago. Left, a picture of the late Mr Sattler
Stephan Ross, dressed in a uniform like one he was forced to wear in the Nazi camps, kisses the handkerchief-flag that was given to him by an American soldier in 1945
On Veteran’s Day this Sunday, Mr Ross had the opportunity for the first time to thank the family of the man who rescued him.
He hugged the children and grandchildren of Mr Sattler during the emotional meeting at the State House in Boston. Mr Ross wore a striped jacket and hat, like the camp uniform, along with his identification number.
The 81-year-old gave Mr Sattler’s family a boxed flag, saying: ‘God Bless, America’.
After the War, Steve Sattler had returned to live quietly on his farm in Unionville, Michigan, according to the Boston Globe. The father-of-six and Purple Heart recipient passed away in 1986 at the age of 70.
Mr Ross, who now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, had spent the War in ten different concentration camps.
The children of soldier Steve Sattler (l-r) Gwen Allanson, Stephanie Sattler and James Sattler meet Stephan Ross to show him a picture of their late father after he gave them an American flag
Mr Ross’s son and Boston City Councilor Michael Ross holds up the flag his father received from an American soldier at Dachau concentration camp in Germany almost seven decades ago
Ever since being liberated by the Allies on April 29, 1945, Mr Ross had always wondered what had happened to the soldier who had shown him kindness.
GATEWAY TO EVIL: THE ATROCITY OF DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP
The concentration camp at Dachau, near Munich in Germany, was founded in 1933 by Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler.
The first prisoners were mainly political opponents of the Nazi regime along with Gypsies and homosexuals.
The camp was expanded under horrific working conditions by prisoners – and operated until the fall of the fascist regime in 1945. Thousands of prisoners were worked to death.
With the increased persecution of the Jews, the number of prisoners at the camp increased in the late Thirties.
It was the original model for all concentration camps – divided into barracks, workshops and areas where medical experiments took place and the crematorium. However it is believed that rather than gas chambers, the Nazis used this area as a firing range and gallows for most prisoners.
Those who were deemed too sick or old to work were sent to Hartheim in Austria where they faced the gas chambers. Thousands of prisoners from Dachau died in this way.
Hundreds of prisoners died or were left disabled during horrific medical experiments at Dachau which included malaria, hypothermia and tuberculosis trials, new medications and methods to stop excessive bleeding.
More than 188,000 prisoners passed through the heavy gates of Dachau in its 12-year history. Although 28,000 were known to have died, there were many, many more victims who have never been accounted for.
The octogenarian, who came to the U.S. as an orphan in 1948, even went on TV show Unsolved Mysteries in the hope of finding the man.
In August this year, he received a phone call from a woman named Brenda Clark – Mr Sattler’s grand-daughter – who said Mr Ross’s story resembled one she had been told.
Mr Sattler had spoken little about his time during the liberation of Dachau.
However he did once tell his daughter Gwen Allanson that he had given food and ‘something else’ to a young boy at the German concentration camp.
Mr Sattler did not say what he had given the boy, only that he ‘hoped it helped him’.
After the families compared details of Mr Sattler’s service with Mr Ross’s memories, the personal histories matched up.
Mr Ross, a retired psychologist, told the Globe: ‘I recalled thinking: ”If this is true, there is some God in this world.”’
He shared his stories of being held in a Nazi prison camp which left him starved and beaten within an inch of his life.
Mr Ross lost his entire family in the Holocaust apart from one brother.
Sattler was a member of the 191st Tank Battalion who were part of the troops who liberated Dachau, about ten miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany.
The U.S. forces who breached the gates of Dachau in April, 1945 were faced with thousands of starving prisoners, many near death. The soldiers also came across the gruesome discovery of 30 railroad cars piled high with bodies.
Attribution: Daily Mail