The grim reality of war was revealed at the Veteran’s Day program in Manawa.
A veteran of World War II vividly described a visit to a liberated German concentration camp. Chet Krause’s unit was among the first of the Allied troops to tour the site.
“As we came through the front gate, there were bodies strewn on either side of the road,” he said, “and they were not German soldiers – they were civilians.”
He remembers the stench of death.
“I was glad I was riding in the back of the truck,” Krause said. “The experience of seeing that camp has stuck with me.”
The Iola native was drafted in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army’s 565th Anti Aircraft Battalion in the European Theater until 1946.
“I was lucky,” Krause said. “I didn’t have to kill people. I only had to fix things.”
His mother was from Manawa and he grew up east of Iola. Krause went on to begin Krause Publications, the Iola Old Car Show and the Iola Military Show, among other achievements.
“I was a carpenter before I did anything else,” he said.
Like many young men, receiving a draft notice was a turning point for Krause.
“We didn’t know what we would face,” he said.
A group of Waupaca County draftees boarded a bus in Waupaca and traveled to Milwaukee, where they underwent physicals.
“In a matter of minutes, you were in the Army,” Krause said.
During World War II, he served behind the lines in Europe.
“I am proud to have served,” he said.
The visit to the concentration camp came shortly before the war ended. Krause’s unit was the first to tour the camp; there were no other military there.
He recalled there were two camps – one for the Jews and one for the foreign prisoners. Krause also described the unspeakably horrible deaths the prisoners faced.
“What a soldier goes through is not easy,” said Karl Morrin, principal of Little Wolf Junior/Senior High School, which hosted the Nov. 11 program.
“We are very proud of all the veterans who were willing to put their lives on the line for our freedom,” Morrin said.
Bob Conroy read the names of fallen heroes from the Manawa area. Every name he read was a veteran who was either killed or listed as missing in action.