George Rose met with several people he rescued from the Dachau concentration camp seventy years earlier

By Michelle Boudin
Updated April 30, 2015 12:30 PM
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Credit: Sonja Carter/Soulfire Photography

George Rose was just eighteen when the American soldier walked through the gates of the Dachau concentration camp as a liberator.

“When I saw them at Dachau I thought they’d never survive,” Rose, now 88, tells PEOPLE. “They were skeletal.”

But many did survive – and on Wednesday, several people who escaped the German death camp reunited with the man who helped save them seven decades earlier.

The group gathered at the state capitol in Raleigh as the North Carolina State Legislature honored Holocaust victims and the American soldiers who saved many with a special resolution to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Dachau liberation.

Rose, who now lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, met several survivors for the first time since he helped free them so many years ago.

“Meeting him was awesome, mind boggling,” Abe Paisek, 86, of Raleigh exclaimed late Wednesday after spending the afternoon with Rose. The two men were enjoying a soda and laughing like old friends after having just met that morning. “I always wondered about those soldiers and never got to meet anybody.”

Paisek explains he was taken from his home in Poland, separated from his family and moved to four different concentration camps in five years. “I saw people going in the showers, but nobody would tell me why they didn’t come out the other side.”

Many times he thought he thought he too would die. He was in a freight car on his way to Dachau when he was freed.

“When the soldiers opened the box car, it was unbelievable,” Paisek recalls. “We were singing and dancing!”

Rose also recalled the chilling scene he encountered at the camp.

“I was shocked,” he says. “I didn’t expect to see what I saw: There were box cars all lined up, and as we walked in the box cars I saw what I thought were baby dolls, they were tiny. But they were all bodies thrown in the car one on top of the other like someone was trying to throw them out.”

Rose and Paisek both say they remember the horrors of the concentration camps clearly – and want to continue to tell their stories so others will remember as well.

Now, after meeting again at long last, they want to stay in touch.

“Oh I hope so,” Piasek says. “I really hope so.”

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