Archive

Texan who fought for civil rights after freeing Nazi death camp dies | TribLIVE.com
Obituary Stories

Texan who fought for civil rights after freeing Nazi death camp dies

AUSTIN, Texas — Albert Schwartz, whose experience liberating a concentration camp in World War Two led him to join the fight to end discrimination in his home of El Paso, Texas, after the war, died over the weekend. He was 94.

Schwartz, whose family ran a local department store, was a U.S. Army captain in the 104th Infantry Division that entered a concentration camp in Nordhausen, Germany, in April 1945, finding more than 3,000 corpses.

“What we saw were rows and rows of people who had been killed or died of starvation. They were slave laborers,” he told the University of Texas at El Paso in an oral history.

The Dora-Mittelbau camp in the Nordhausen area used slave labor to make V-2 missiles and other experimental weapons in underground bunkers for Nazi Germany, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Schwartz said the experience changed his life and led him to question the segregation in his home of El Paso.

“I decided that discrimination for whatever reason was something I could not abide by any longer,” he said.

During the late 1950s, as head of the local Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, he joined black and Hispanic leaders to push for changes in El Paso that, in the early 1960s, made it the first major city in the former Civil War Confederacy to end racial segregation.

Schwartz was awarded a Bronze Star for his military service. He spent most of his post-war years running the family’s department store called “The Popular” and also was instrumental in establishing the city’s Holocaust Museum.

A graveside service was held for Schwartz on Monday.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.