Salute to our Veterans: World War II Vet David Israel

Medford, Ore — For the week leading up to Veteran’s Day NBC5 is honoring veterans in our community.

David Israel, a world war II veteran whose experience at an infamous German concentration camp led him to a lifetime of discovery.

“anybody that was there, and saw what it was like, it was total insanity,” said Israel.

David Israel was born in New York. Rarely stepping beyond his home borough of Brooklyn until the outbreak of the War.

“World War II, 16 million people were in service, G.I’s, 18, 19 [years old] you register for service and you went in,” said Israel.

Israel was one of those 16 million, a Jewish-American boy sent to Germany toward the end of the war.

“I was assigned to a particular unit, and was transferred to a military intelligence unit, and that unit was stationed in Dachau,” he said.

Dachau, the first and one of the most notorious concentration camps of the war.

“These are the patches that the prisoners wore in the concentration camps showing where they were from,” he said.

Tens of thousands of so called “enemies of the Third Reich”. Catholics, Communists and Jews, among others, perished there until the camp’s liberation on April 29th, 1945.

“Some of the enemies of the third Reich, this is what they looked like,” said Israel, pointing at images of young children from the camp.

“When they went in to Dachau, after all kinds of terrible, terrible combat, what they saw in Dachau, it destroyed their minds,” said Israel.

Israel’s unit arrived shortly afterwards.

“When the war ended, they were interrogators of German prisoners of war, looking for war criminals, that was our job.”

The liberation brought it’s own controversy, the first American unit to enter the camp, accused of war crimes after firing on unarmed German SS prisoners.

“They told these 18 and 19 years old, that have been given medals for shooting Germans the day before, but on this day if they shot them, they would go to Leavenworth for 30 years.”

Israel was driven to investigate what happened, his search for answers spanned decades and inspired a book name d after the unit that liberated the camp.

“Worked on this project for a long time, and 47 years after the war ended i came across a story that was totally unbelievable,” said Israel.
His quest led to a roll of undeveloped film in a New Jersey garage and new evidence that seemed to exonerate the colonel in charge.

“This shows the general, see him, he’s stopping the shooting, he stopped the actual massacre, and the army didn’t believe him.”

Since then Israel has toured the country and the world telling his story.

“The interest of young people is phenomenal, and what they want to know about their grandfathers and uncles, relatives friends, they’re totally interested in World War II.”

With the hope of inspiring younger generations to reach out to those with the greatest stories to tell.

“It’s a archive that should be utilized, while we still have it, because once they’re all gone, they’re gone.”

Matt Jordan is the Chief Meteorologist for KOBI-TV NBC5. Matt joined the NBC5 weather team in 2014 after a year as a reporter and anchor in Alexandria, Louisiana. His experience with the severe weather of the Deep South and a love of the Pacific Northwest led him to pursue a certification with Mississippi State University as a Broadcast Meteorologist. You can find Matt working in the evenings of NBC5 News at 5, 6 and 11 as well as online. Matt also has a degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon. In addition to being passionate about news and weather, Matt is a HUGE Oregon Ducks fan. When not rooting for the Ducks or tracking down the next storm over the Pacific, Matt can be found outdoors in the Oregon wilderness with his wife and their German Shepherd named Stanley.
Skip to content