“Everybody — every human being — has the obligation to contribute somehow to this world”

—Edith Carter, Holocaust Survivor

Clifford Park

Cincinnati Eyewitnesses: Clifford Park

Clifford Park was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 2, 1926. He was the youngest of three brothers and was attending Withrow High School when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. His eldest brother enlisted, and his older brother was drafted, and on July 7, 1944, Clifford was drafted into the U.S. Army.

After completing basic training at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, Clifford traveled to New York and boarded a ship to Europe. The ship docked in Liverpool and for the first time Clifford realized he was in a war upon seeing all the destruction in the harbor. From Liverpool, he was transported to France and then Holland. He was assigned to the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division and traveled to Germany.

Clifford was able to send letters to his family and thought of clever ways to tell them his location without being caught (the army did not allow for servicemen to reveal their locations in letters). He once wrote to his mother that he wanted her to save the bottle of Mexican rum located on her nightstand until he got back and they could drink it together. His mother did not understand what he meant at first, but then remembered that she had a little green bottle on her nightstand with a sombrero on it. On the bottle was the word “Cologne” so she knew that Clifford was stationed in Cologne, Germany.

On May 24, 1945, Clifford sustained injuries from a bazooka that was fired by the farmer whose house Clifford’s division had taken over for the night. Two men were killed and Clifford was eventually flown to Paris to recover from shrapnel wounds to his legs and forehead. At the same time he was there, Clifford’s eldest brother was also stationed in Paris. The two brothers were able to reunite for the first time in 2 and a half years.

After making a full recovery, Clifford rejoined his division in Nordhausen, Germany. While there, his division traveled to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp located on the outskirts of town. Clifford, who had known nothing about the Nazi camps prior, saw skeleton-like prisoners at the fences of the camp. He said it was one of the worst things he has ever witnessed.

After leaving Nordhausen, Clifford traveled to another German town, then eventually ended up in California. He was discharged from the Army in June, 1946, and made his way back to Cincinnati where he ended up going to University of Cincinnati, marrying, and raising two daughters. He began speaking to school groups in 1987 because of his involvement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization.

Clifford passed away in October 2010. He was a dedicated member of CHHE’s Speakers’ Bureau and he will be missed.