“Witness to the Holocaust: WWII Veteran William Alexander Scott III at Buchenwald” will be on display at Lee County’s Oakland Library until Thursday before moving to Dougherty County’s Northwest Library through Oct. 4. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)
LEESBURG — One man’s personal accounts of horrors he witnessed during the Holocaust are now being displayed in an exhibit at Lee County’s Oakland Library.
“Witness to the Holocaust: WWII Veteran William Alexander Scott III at Buchenwald” chronicles the journey of Scott, a photographer in a segregated battalion of the U.S. Army during WWII. He witnessed the liberation of notorious concentration camp Buchenwald and his photographs give unique perspective to one of history’s most despairing times. The exhibit examines a comparison between Jim Crow Laws and the Nuremberg Race Laws implemented in Germany’s concentration camps and Nazi-controlled areas of Europe.
Curated by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust in 1997, the exhibit is based on a permanent showing of the same name at the Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945 display in Sandy Springs.
Scott was a sergeant, photographer and part-time historian in the Intelligence Section of the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion. In April 1945, he arrived in Eisenach, Germany, under the command of Gen. George S. Patton. Though a member of a then-segregated Army, any previous experience Scott had with racial discrimination paled in comparison to his first-hand accounts of the horrors witnessed at Buchenwald.
Scott’s experiences at Buchenwald combined with the racial discrimination he himself experienced in the U.S. led him to share his story.
“Because my father witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust and was experiencing the injustice of racial discrimination back at home, he was determined to do what he could to change things,” said his daughter, Alexis Scott. “One of the things he knew, based on his experiences as a soldier in World War II, is that there was a concerted effort to eliminate the Jews — a genocide, and that this was the extreme execution of hatred. He realized, in coming to combat it here, that you cannot fight hate with hate. Hate only begets more hate.”
The exhibit will be featured at Oakland Library until Sept. 20 before moving to Dougherty County’s Northwest Library for display until Oct. 4.