Truman Fulton was a technical sergeant in the United States Army during World War II. His duty was to cook. He was one of the liberators of Ohrdruf Concentration Camp and Buchenwald Concentration Camp. While serving in Europe, he learned to speak five different languages. Truman tells his story upon seeing the camps.
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Tape 1 - Side 1
PRINCE: My name is “Sister” Prince and I’m interviewing Truman Fulton in Fredericktown, Missouri on March 30, 1985. Truman liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp and Buchenwald concentration camp. And, Truman, would you begin by telling me your rank and your outfit and what your job was.
FULTON: I was, I was invaded with the First Army under General Hodges but the incident we’re talking about now, I believe, was under General Patton at that time. I’m not sure, I’d have to see the date and I don’t have it before me. I was a T-4 which is a technical sargeant and my duties were to cook but we was with a outfit that we fought more than infantry, I think. They told us we would never fight and we’d like to have found the guy that told us that we wouldn’t fight because with a military maintenance ordinance company, that means that you’re within a thousand yards of the front line and quite often you’re in front of the front line, and we – we had a lot of – we lost over a third of our company from combat action and out of 222 men went over, there was 20 of us come back.
PRINCE: Truman, did you have any idea of – or did you hear anything about concentration camps before you came up on it? Had you heard any rumors?
FULTON: From the civilian population, they was trying to tell us something about it, but we didn’t really – we wasn’t expecting what we found.
PRINCE: Civilian population in…?
PRINCE: I mean, as you went through each town?
PRINCE: What did they tell you?
FULTON: They told us about the concentration camp but at that time I didn’t speak fluent German and I didn’t understand and I didn’t – I’d never heard of anything like that so I didn’t know anything about it.
PRINCE: Okay. So you proceed and tell me.
FULTON: Well, what we found along about two o’clock in the evening, the best I remember, we had a little fire fight with some of the German troops and we run up to an embankment, you know, lookin’ for cover and we run up and fell down behind that embankment and then when we started looking right over the embankment was a pit about – oh, I guess ‘bout 120 feet long and about 60 feet wide, full of corpses. Some of them were still alive, and they wouldn’t average weighing 90 pounds. And when they got a layer – we found out afterwards – when they got a layer of those bodies across that pit, they poured boiling tar on them, over it, so it wouldn’t create such a stench, but that created an awful stench, I want you to know.
PRINCE: How did you know some were still alive?
FULTON: They were moving. When we come up there, they went hollering at us.
PRINCE: They cried out?
FULTON: Yes. And I – they told us – now I didn’t count them, but they told us there’s already 1200 in that pit. I don’t know that be – but that’s what some of the inmates of the camp – some of the people in the camp told me – there’s already 1200 bodies in there.
PRINCE: Okay. So, you’re not in the camp yet, you’re just on the outskirts…
FULTON: We’re on the outskirts of it. And when we finally got into the camp, the Germans run and we found – I don’t remember there’s six or 700 human beings in that camp and most of ‘em wouldn’t have weighed 90 pounds and that’s the first time I was ever kissed by a living skeleton. And they were in varied states of sickness, malnutrition, death and dying.
PRINCE: Did you know who they were and why they were there?
FULTON: Well, as far as personally, we didn’t know any of them.
PRINCE: No, no, not didn’t know any of them, but did you know…?
FULTON: Oh, yes. We had been briefed by our Intelligence that we would find things like that. They were – in that camp, they were all Jewish, every one of ‘em, as far as I could see. We’d been told by our Intelligence that we would run on to such as that but they still hadn’t prepared us for that.
PRINCE: Well I guess they didn’t know exactly either or maybe they…
PRINCE: Well, did they tell you what to do or how to handle anything, situations or…
FULTON: No. We had special – we was in contact with special troops and they had an outfit to handle them. We didn’t ourselves.
PRINCE: This is in Ohrdruf?
FULTON: Ohrdruf, right. And, the best that I remember – there wasn’t a bite of food in the camp that I see, and they were working – those people had been working on their superhighways, we call them – they call them autobahn – and they’d been doing their work with pick and shovel and wheelbarrow.
PRINCE: Wheelbarrow. Okay. Who came up and kissed you, one of them?
FULTON: One of the men – they kissed every one of us, I guess. They was so proud to see us.
PRINCE: How did you react?
FULTON: I don’t know. I don’t remember. I think – well, we had compassion for them but as far as wanting to associate with them, we couldn’t because we wasn’t there long enough. They couldn’t follow us, they didn’t have the strength. The next camp was the worst.
PRINCE: Well tell me about that.
FULTON: We, we came up to the Buchen…
FULTON: I’m not sure I’m sayin’ it right.
PRINCE: You’re saying it right.
FULTON: Buchenwald. We came up to that along about 10 o’clock in the morning…
PRINCE: The next day?
FULTON: No, it wasn’t the next day. It was about a week later.
FULTON: We were more or less prepared for that because they had told us there was another one, and we got there and there was a little town there. I don’t remember which one it was, and we went into town and asked them if they know anything about it. No, they didn’t know nothin’ about it. They was perfectly innocent. So, we got the mayor and some of the officials and made them come and dig up some of the bodies with their bare hands. They found out – we found out they did know. They couldn’t help but know because of the stench. And they was the bitch of Buchenwald as Askotch. She was in charge in some of the female prisoners and unspeakable things that she done to ‘em. But she got away. We didn’t succeed in getting her. She got out some way. I don’t know how, but later on she was caught and paid for her crimes.
PRINCE: Now, here you were – uh – were you born here in Fredericktown?
FULTON: Near here.
PRINCE: Near here, okay. You were seeing things even in the war that you never dreamed you’d see.
FULTON: No, I never expected to see anything like that.
PRINCE: So, here you come upon something like this.
FULTON: In Buchenwald they rendered fat out of the bodies and made soap out of it. I washed my hands several times with human soap.
PRINCE: All right. Tell me how your friends reacted around you. What did – I mean this –
FULTON: I don’t hardly know what to say. They just – when you been in combat for four or five months, you’re hardened somewhat.
FULTON: And we didn’t react like you and I would react now, but it was pretty much of a shock to all of us.
FULTON: And, this gal that I’m talkin’ about – if a prisoner had tattoos on him, she would have that skin and tan it to make lampshades out of it.
PRINCE: Yeah. I know all of that. Did you all talk about it in the evening or was it just another part of the…
FULTON: It wasn’t really anything to talk about.
FULTON: After you’ve been in combat for so long, nothing really excites you.
PRINCE: Um-hum, um-hum.
FULTON: I don’t know that we discussed it anyhow. We probably did, but I don’t remember.
PRINCE: Um-hum, um-hum. All right. So, how long were you in Buchenwald?
FULTON: I think we there about 12 hours.
PRINCE: Did you have – did you have any contact with the prisoners there?
FULTON: Oh yes, we talked to ‘em.
PRINCE: Tell me about that.
FULTON: Well, they wasn’t nothing to tell. They’d tell us where they were from, which we didn’t know anything about. They was some female prisoners there and they had quite a tale to tell, but mostly we just secured the camp and went to get – we were really not supposed to take care of those…
FULTON: …like that, but we did some of it, of course.
PRINCE: Truman, tell me – describe the camp, if you can remember it.
FULTON: Well, it was long low buildings. There were barracks. There were about – oh – there was about 60 feet long and about 16 feet wide. They had crude bunks down with…in between. They were behind barbed wire fence, there was prison fence all the way around. We had to use Bangalor Torpedo to get to them.
PRINCE: Had to what?
FULTON: Use a Bangalor Torpedo to get through the barbed wire.
PRINCE: What’s a Bangalor Torpedo?
FULTON: Briefly, it’s a long iron pipe about two inches long, full of explosives, and about 10 feet long and you just shove it around the wire and they exploded and they blasted a hole in the wire.
PRINCE: Well, were the Germans still there when you got there?
FULTON: Yeah. They – mostly the caretakers. They was a few troops there but they left. As we come in this side, the Germans went out the other side.
FULTON: The caretakers of the plant, some of them stayed there.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. Of the plant? Of the…
PRINCE: Camp – uh-huh. And what – did you see any of them?
FULTON: Yes, we seen them. We took them prisoner. They were – they were German troops.
FULTON: Part of them, I…with ‘em. I believe that Buchenwald, if I remember right – I’m not sure I’m right, but I think they all left as we come up. I don’t think there was any German troops there when we got inside the camp.
PRINCE: What did – what did the prisoners seem – as you say, they were in all stages of malnutrition – did they have their hands out? Were they asking for things?
FULTON: No. Really, they didn’t, and they didn’t beg us for anything. We didn’t have anything apparently with us, but a little candy or ration – our ration we had with us we give to them, but we didn’t have enough to do any good. But, within six to eight hours, help arrived.
PRINCE: What kind of help?
FULTON: From the U.S. army. They had special troops to take care of that, nurses and so on.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. All right. And where did you all stay?
FULTON: Well, we just stayed in our unit, our – as we moved forward why we’d have trucks bring our equipment with us.
PRINCE: But you were there a week?
FULTON: Noooo – I don’t – I think we was only there – I think we stayed all night in the area, not in the camp, but in the area. And we seen some of ‘em the next morning and help had already arrived.
PRINCE: Um-hum. Now you – you wrote a letter – that’s how I got here. You wrote a letter saying that you wanted to talk about this and that you were 72 years old.
FULTON: That’s right.
PRINCE: And you were prompted from something you read in the newspaper.
FULTON: That’s right.
PRINCE: So, you must have some – tell me what prompted you to write the letter.
FULTON: Simply because that columnist in the St. Louis Post Dispatch said that Hitler wasn’t so bad in those camps, was just eradicating the do-nothings, etc., and that kind of upset me.
What prompted me to write that was due to the fact that that columnist in the St. Louis Post Dispatch made light of all that – that happened and I happened to be there and it was not to be made light of.
PRINCE: Have you thought about it afterwards? Did you think much about it?
FULTON: You never get it out of your mind…man’s inhumanity to man.
PRINCE: Truman, did you know anything much about Jews or anything about Jews before…
FULTON: I, I – in fact, some of my former girlfriends were Jews. And I have no…
PRINCE: But I mean, you didn’t know anything – ‘till you dated some Jewish girls?
FULTON: Yeah, I dated Jewish girls and I had no, no hatred of Jews or anything about them. In fact, my mess sergeant was a Jew…
FULTON: …in the army.
PRINCE: Tell me, did that – because you did know some Jewish people and uh, you, uh, then went over there and saw that, that they were doing that to Jews, did your opinion of anything or did that make a difference, do you think, in the way you felt about that or Israel or…
FULTON: I don’t think so. Now, in the first place, our religion is based on the old Bible, as far as that’s concerned – the Ten Commandments, as you well know.
FULTON: No, I had no, I have no preconceived ideas about Jews now or before. They’re just human beings. Now in Argo, in Buchenwald, I mean, there were British subjects in there and from the low countries there were other than Jews in that prison.
PRINCE: Right. How about your mess sergeant being Jewish? Did he respond in any different way?
FULTON: No different way, I don’t think so. He just – he was just Jewish, an Orthodox Jew.
PRINCE: What’s the worst thing you saw in the war?
FULTON: Uh…I think those prison camps were the worst thing I saw, but of course any combat is bad.
PRINCE: How long were you in combat?
FULTON: 23 months.
PRINCE: You must have wondered sometimes what you were…
FULTON: I’ve got five battle stars and a bronze star, several unit citations. I’ve been in – I’ve been in five major combats – campaigns.
PRINCE: Which – what were they?
FULTON: I can’t tell you offhand – Ardhand, Musargan; I can’t tell you offhand – it’s been too long.
PRINCE: So, where did you end up?
FULTON: Where did I end up?
PRINCE: Uh-huh. Where were you when the war was over?
FULTON: I was down in Bartarvia – that’s southern Germany, way down in the Alps Mountains.
PRINCE: Is that Bavaria, you mean?
FULTON: It was called Barvaria.
FULTON: Okay. It’s the same place. And we fit for three days after peace but we were…
PRINCE: Oh, you were still fighting?
FULTON: Yes, we was facing an isolated German outfit and they had no contact with their superiors and they wouldn’t believe us. We fought for three days. They wanted to fight and we fight with them. We fought for three days before they finally give up.
PRINCE: Um-um-um. Do you know what religion are you?
PRINCE: What is your religion or ethnic background?
FULTON: I’m Nazarene, belong to the Nazarene Church and I’m English background.
PRINCE: English background? Where did you land in Europe?
FULTON: In Europe?
FULTON: I landed in Great Britain first.
FULTON: And then crossed the Channel and I was in Normandy – I landed in Normandy, D plus two.
PRINCE: D plus two? Was there still fighting then, when you landed on the beach?
FULTON: Yes, they was still fighting.
PRINCE: Still? Still waiting for you on the beach? I mean…
FULTON: They sure was.
PRINCE: D plus two?
FULTON: Yeah. But we was staying offshore from D minus one, but we didn’t get on shore until D plus two…
FULTON: Well, there was just a small place to land the troops and they was too many going in.
PRINCE: Did you go on Omaha or uh…
FULTON: Omaha Red. Omaha, not Red – just Omaha.
PRINCE: What’s the difference between Omaha Red and…
FULTON: Omaha – Omaha is right straight in; Omaha Red is to the left; Omaha Blue is to the right. Utah Blue is to the – a mile left and Omaha – Utah is center and Utah Red is…
PRINCE: Oh, I didn’t know about the Red and the Blue.
FULTON: It’s the…
FULTON: …sections, that’s…
PRINCE: Uh-huh, okay. Let’s see – did you see in Buchenwald that it was a – a death camp?
FULTON: Oh, yes, there was no doubt about it.
PRINCE: Did you see any of the facilities that were there?
FULTON: You’re thinking about some facilities – they wasn’t there, they was in the next camp which I didn’t have anything to do with. Dachau is where they took the prisoners to burn them and so forth, but I don’t know anything about that. (NON-VERIFIABLE)
PRINCE: Well, okay. You weren’t told that you shouldn’t have anything to do with these inmates, were you?
FULTON: No, they wasn’t nobody to tell us that.
PRINCE: Um-hum. Okay. But could you have a conversation with them – any of them?
FULTON: Yes, we could have. The only trouble…
PRINCE: You mean, because of language?
FULTON: Well, I speak – I can speak Yiddish fairly well and…
PRINCE: Now where did you learn Yiddish?
FULTON: Uhhh – association with some of the gals I went with. But, actually, in combat you don’t have time to stop and talk very much.
FULTON: Because you’re all the time pushing, pushing, pushing – if you don’t, they’ll push you, and I talk some to them but not a whole lot.
PRINCE: Um-huh. Did you have any contact with any of the armed forces of any other Allied countries?
FULTON: Oh, yes. Had contact with the British, the Scottish Highlanders, the Russians, the Italians, had contact with all of them. We was all fighting together.
FULTON: Now, the Russians – I met them on the Alps when they was coming on and we come together and we met. I know very little about the Russians, very little.
PRINCE: Uh-hum, uh-hum. Uh, do you have any letters or maps or diaries or anything of that kind?
FULTON: You know, I do, but I can’t find them right now. And in the first place, to make things in context, we owned a business here in town and we sold out about eight years ago and everything we had in the business is filed down there in the basement or out here in this shed and I never went through all of it yet.
PRINCE: What kind of business did you have?
FULTON: We had a salvage business shoe store.
PRINCE: And you tell me that you’re an ex-cop?
FULTON: All right. Yeah, I’m an ex-cop and, for what it’s worth, I worked in the underground for five years.
PRINCE: In the underground? What underground?
FULTON: In the United States – dope work.
PRINCE: Oh, that?
PRINCE: Oh, for drugs?
PRINCE: Oh – during what years was that?
FULTON: Oh, let’s see now – this is ’85 – ’70 – ’65 to ’72, ’65 to ’70.
PRINCE: So, I would imagine – with your combat training and your army life helped you with that.
FULTON: Well, I’m still alive.
PRINCE: My husband always says that he’d rather be smart than lucky – LUCKY than smart, rather.
FULTON: Yeah, I’ve had quite an experience at this drug war, but I can’t talk about it yet…
PRINCE: In the drug war?
FULTON: Yeah. In fact, my wife didn’t even know at the time I was working in it.
PRINCE: Well, you really were an undercover…Well, it sounds like you have been through the war and then you were a cop and you go for the exciting things.
FULTON: Well, I’ll tell you, in the war, in the service, I was connected with G-2 which is the intelligence branch…
FULTON: …but I was also a member of the organization that I told you, but I done a lot of work on some of these war criminals, but I don’t know where Mengele is – Mengele is. I didn’t know where some of them was and I got them.
PRINCE: Well, what would you like to tell me that I haven’t asked you about the camps? Uh…
FULTON: I can’t think of anything particular because…
PRINCE: They make you angry or mad or sad or pick one…
FULTON: Uh, as I remarked before, after bein’ in combat for a while, they’s nothing makes you mad – you get mad, you lose your life. You can’t be mad. And I just – I think probably I’m being paid off and I didn’t take any prisoners ever.
FULTON: Because dead Germans don’t talk.
PRINCE: You would have shot them. Uh, did you cry over there?
FULTON: No. Can’t nothing make me cry. Oh, I guess there are some things…
FULTON: I guess I’m a hard shell of a man and I just don’t cry.
PRINCE: Can’t crack it?
FULTON: I have been through what I have been through and today I’m out of everything now, that’s how it is. But, I went through some rough places.
PRINCE: Do you – are you glad you are out of everything or do you find…
FULTON: Oh, I expect that if the right one had been elected sheriff in this town, I’d have been deputy yet.
FULTON: I backed the wrong man, so you know how’s that.
PRINCE: Well, maybe not the wrong one, but the one that didn’t win.
FULTON: That’s right. I, I don’t really care. I’m 72 years old and not as active as I used to be.
PRINCE: Well, you were correct when you said that all I had to do was drive into town and ask where you lived. Everybody knew you and I stopped at the first gas station and said, “Where does Truman Fulton live?” And he said, “Go down Main Street and…”
FULTON: Yeah, everybody knows me and they treat me – whenever I need anything, I’ll get it – it’s no problem.
PRINCE: Uh-hum. Well, you may have a hard shell, but you have a good heart because you know right from wrong and you’ve got your standards, so when you read something that you know doesn’t sound right to you, you respond, and you stood up and wrote that letter.
FULTON: I know it. I don’t believe in things like that. There’s a generation growing up now that know nothing about that and they’s not too many of us left, and they very few that had the same experience, that is, in the company that I was in because we only come back with 20 of the original people. So, they’ve only got 20 of us knows and I know at least four of them are dead – I don’t know how many more.
PRINCE: Truman, because you understood that those camps were built mainly for Jews and for people who disagreed with the Nazis and that they were really trying to systematically get rid of all the Jews, uh – did you do any reading when you got back? Did, did you, or did anybody – did you tell your friends about it?
FULTON: Noooo. I suppose I mentioned somewhat, but unless you’ve been in the service, unless you’ve been over there, you can’t talk to anybody really about it, you know.
PRINCE: I do know.
FULTON: I mean, my wife knows about it and after the first, I guess 12 years of our married life, I had the awfullest nightmares there was and I tried to tell my wife about it, and of course, I’m…and so we slept in twin beds.
FULTON: She’s an invalid now, she can’t…no more.
PRINCE: Yeah. Well, I could – the adjustment back must be very difficult.
FULTON: (OVERTALK AND UNINTELLIGIBLE CONVERSATION) And, uh, I’ll tell you some funny incident. When we moved in this house, I floor finished…I had a hardwood floor in here.
PRINCE: A what?
FULTON: A hardwood floor and I had a bed in the living room and it come up a thunderstorm one night and that to me sounded like artillery fire, and it come a dasher in and it hit the pavement out there, and so on, and oh boy, that’s shrapnel, and I dived down on the floor, as if there was a foxhole there, that was my daughter.
PRINCE: So what did you hit? You hit the floor?
FULTON: I hit the floor.
PRINCE: Oh, my goodness.
FULTON: I thought I was diving into a foxhole.
PRINCE: Truman, just chart for me – you landed on Normandy and then – can you give me an idea, just a little bit of an idea where you…
FULTON: Well, we fought over the countryside across France and I can’t remember – now that was before we got to Luxembourg. I’d have to have a map really, but we – it was about six months, I think, after we landed on shore before we come on to our first camp.
FULTON: It was in…
PRINCE: Ohrdruf was in April – I don’t know when you landed.
FULTON: I landed the sixth of May…
PRINCE: ’44…no, you – not Normandy…(OVERTALK) June.
FULTON: Sixth of June, yeah, sixth of June in Normandy.
PRINCE: Actually the eighth. There were two days plus.
FULTON: Yeah, eighth of June.
PRINCE: Yeah. So, and Ohrdruf was liberated in April the following.
FULTON: Well, then it was a year, yeah. I just can’t remember the time span because there was nothing to mark it by or anything.
PRINCE: It must seem like a dream when you look back and think that you really…
FULTON: Yeah, a bad dream.
PRINCE: Yeah, you saw all that and – well.
FULTON: It’s against, basically against human nature to kill anybody. I know there’s criminals that kill everyday, but for an ordinary person it’s against your principles to kill anybody. But yet, we had to kill or be killed.
PRINCE: Um-hum, um-hum. But you knew why you were there?
FULTON: Oh yes, yes, I was there. In other words, I’d rather fight in their backyard than mine.
PRINCE: Um-hum. Were you drafted or did you enlist?
FULTON: I was drafted.
PRINCE: How old were you?
FULTON: Well, I was 28.
PRINCE: Oh, then you weren’t a baby.
FULTON: No, I wasn’t a baby, no. I was 28 when I went in, so I was 30, would have been 31 – my birthday’s in December.
PRINCE: All right. How did you feel about the State of Israel?
FULTON: How do I now feel about the State of Israel?
PRINCE: Well, when it was – did you think much about it or connect it to the war when it was formed in 1948?
FULTON: Well, of course, during the war they wasn’t formed then. Yes, I thought a lot about Israel and I got my Old Testament out and read about it so long that I didn’t remember.
PRINCE: But I mean when it was made a state in 1948, which was after the war. Didn’t you connect that in any way with the fact that the Jews had been so badly persecuted…
FULTON: Well, they was just fulfilling a prophecy.
PRINCE: You feel that it is fulfilling a prophecy?
FULTON: Yes. I think that it should be remembered that the Jews come back to Judea…
FULTON: …and now they’re having a hard time now (LAUGHTER) containing the peace.
PRINCE: Yes, they are.
PRINCE: Well, I thank you for very much and I appreciate the fact that, from your heart, you got in touch with us and – which is the St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies, because you felt so deeply and…
Tape 1 - Side 2
FULTON: I feel like that there should be some verification of all this that happened. I think that as long as there are some of us alive that can swear to it and verify the things that they say didn’t happen, I think we should speak up.
PRINCE: Because this is for people that do not know anything…
FULTON: That’s right.
PRINCE: …and I appreciate it and I thank you for your time. Truman, as a postscript, let me ask you about your education.
FULTON: I never went to high school or college. I only have a grade school education.
PRINCE: You have a grade school education?
FULTON: Oh yes, I got a grade school education. I took some other courses but I never got credit for it.
PRINCE: How’d you get out of not going to high school?
FULTON: Well, back when I was in school, you wasn’t required to go to high school. That’s been a long time ago.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. And you were living where then?
FULTON: In Bowlinger County on the farm.
FULTON: Bowlinger County on the farm.
PRINCE: Okay. And so you worked on the farm?
FULTON: Oh yes.
PRINCE: All right. Did you – do you read?
FULTON: Yes, I read.
PRINCE: Do you like to read?
FULTON: Oh yes, I read an awful lot.
PRINCE: What do you like to read about?
FULTON: Principally history and historical items.
FULTON: I just got a new Smithsonian magazine I just finished reading.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. Do you think being away like you were in the army and being subjected to all different experiences, you know, made you a different person?
FULTON: I doubt it.
PRINCE: Do you think you’d have been the same?
FULTON: I think probably the same. Of course, I learned while I was in the service, I learned to speak five languages which I wouldn’t have learned on the farm.
PRINCE: You learned five languages?
FULTON: Don’t ask me to talk them now because I’ve forgotten most of them.
PRINCE: I won’t ask you to talk them, but I’m going to ask you what they were, if that’s okay
FULTON: Yeah. Of course English I know, and German, French, Luxembourg which is two languages and there’s three different languages in Germany and I had to learn all of them. The reason I learned to speak German, I had a bunch of German women working for me and I had to either do the work or learn to talk to them, so I learned to talk to them.
PRINCE: What did they do for you?
FULTON: Oh, they was in the kitchen. They were doing the cooking after the war was over.
PRINCE: Uh-huh. Did you get raves on your cooking from the men or (LAUGHTER) did you…?
FULTON: I don’t think so. A very amusing thing happened. I told the cooks to mix hot cake batter, we were going to have hot cakes the next morning and I come back to the kitchen about an hour later and they had 20 gallons of sauerkraut opened up for breakfast.
FULTON: And I blowed my stack and they told me that my German wasn’t the best in the world and that sauerkraut and hot cakes were very much the same in German. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: (LAUGHTER)…that’s wonderful. What’d you do with it? Serve it for breakfast?
FULTON: No, we served it for dinner the next day and I still made them make some hot cake batter.
PRINCE: Oh, my goodness. That’s a good story, that’s funny. Yes, I would imagine that would make you learn the languages.
FULTON: Uh-huh. And dealing with the German prisoners I had to, I had to learn to speak. And then you take the prisoners from the low countries, they spoke a different – well they spoke German, but a different dialect and you had to learn all that there. And, incidentally, I always laughed at anybody about using their hands to talk with and I defy anybody to speak German without using their hands.
PRINCE: I understand the American troops had so much equipment behind them. Food, ammunition…How did you feel? Did you feel pretty well backed up?
FULTON: We were – we had all the supplies we needed. Of course, as far as food’s concerned, since I was the cook, we didn’t get everything we wanted all the time. They was for – at one time there was for 20 days we only had K rations.
PRINCE: One more question. Did you – you spoke about your own nightmares about your own fighting. Did you ever have a nightmare about what you saw in the camps?
FULTON: Yes. That made an awful impression on me.
PRINCE: Did it make you feel – uh, or how did it make you feel about the Germans?
FULTON: I don’t think it made me feel any worse about the Germans than I did before I seen those camps, just the fact that it just lowered my estimation of what man, what a human being can do to another human being. But as far as me hating the Germans any worse, I don’t think I did because I hated them to begin with.
PRINCE: I remember, I think I’ll always remember something you said that if you got mad, you couldn’t afford to get mad, you had to keep your…
FULTON: You had to keep your wits…
PRINCE: …your wits about you.
FULTON: You couldn’t afford to get mad when you was in combat.
FULTON: If you got mad you more or less lose your cool and you can’t do that.
PRINCE: So, do you think that’s what put the shell around you?
FULTON: I expect so. I know when I first got home, there was a bad car wreck on the highway. Someone said, “Wasn’t that awful?” Well, I wasn’t tryin’ to be smart; it didn’t seem awful to me. There was only four or five killed. I’d seen hundreds of ‘em killed and I wasn’t tryin’ to be smart. It just didn’t seem that way.
PRINCE: Um-hum. But, did – how did they respond to your…?
FULTON: I think they considered the source.
PRINCE: You’re laughing, you have a reputation, I think. Is that correct?
PRINCE: And yet, I don’t find you – I find you very compassionate.
FULTON: Yeah, but don’t, don’t try to do somethin’ you shouldn’t do and expect me to be compassionate.
PRINCE: So, you go by the letter of the law?
FULTON: I do.
PRINCE: I’ll remember that. (LAUGHTER)
FULTON: And, I don’t think you met my daughter, but she was grown of course. And I gave her a stand when she was 12 years old – if she got in trouble, she’d settle with me first and then we’d go and see what we could do. She got a parking ticket. She’d parked by a fireplug when she was still in school. She declared that she wasn’t going to go down to take care of it. “Daddy can do it.” I said, “I don’t care, I’m not goin’,” I said. “I’ll go with you but I’m not going, you’re going to talk to the judge.” Ooh, that was the hardest thing she ever done but it made a believer out of her.
PRINCE: Yes. Well, you’ve owned up to your own responsibility. That would be nice if everyone did. Well, you owned up to your responsibility here as a human and again I thank you.