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 Memories of 19-Year-Old African-American Army Sergeant to Recount Liberation of Buchewald 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:



              SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Dr. Leon Bass, who as a 19-year-old African-American sergeant in the U.S. Army was a liberator of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp, will deliver the keynote address when Slippery Rock University hosts its 11th annual “Holocaust Remembrance Program” on April 5.

          The free program will be held at 4 p.m. in Miller Auditorium sponsored by the university’s political science department. The program is directed by Dr. Richard Martin, professor of political science.

          Bass, now the father of two grown children, and a retired Philadelphia School District teacher and principal, has titled his address “Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust – from the Perspective of an African-American Solider.” His address will detail his personal experiences as a member of the 183rd Engineers Combat battalion in the 3rd Army which liberated Buchenwald during World War II.

          He will also include his personal experiences training in a segregated combat unit in Texas and Arkansas, then going to the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation -- an event that took place 60 years ago in April.

          A story in the Nov. 2, 1981, Congressional Record notes as a school principal he once heard an Auschwitz survivor’s presentation at his school. “She was talking about what happened. The students were laughing. They didn’t trust anybody white and they didn’t believe her. I stood up and said, ‘What she’s telling you is true. I was there.’” He says that event reminded him of the horrors of Buchewald. “At 19, I came into the feeling that I was put upon for being black, and I was,” he recalled, “But standing there, I realized that suffering was universal, that here were people who had this happened to them simply for being who there were.”

          Bass says it was then he began to lecture students at other schools about what he had seen.

          A Philadelphia native, Bass attended Philadelphia Public Schools, West Chester University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree and Temple University for his master and doctoral degrees.

           He has previously lectured at Wichita, Berkley, Stanford, Indiana State, Wright State, Copin State, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Temple, West Chester and Purdue universities, as well as the University of Pennsylvania and Trinity College. He served as a delegate to the International Liberators Conference held in Washington, D.C., and as a delegate to the Soviet Union’s Sister Cities Project in 1986.

          Bass holds numerous education and humanitarian service awards, including those from the Jewish Welfare Federation of San Francisco, the Olde Philadelphia Club, the American Jewish Congress Communication Award, the Philadelphia Coordinating Council on the Holocaust Annual Humanitarian Award, honors from B’nai B’rith, Operation Push, the Philadelphia Naval Base, the Philadelphia County Council, the Philadelphia Association of School Administrators, and the New Jersey Chapter of Hadassah, among others. He was named a distinguished alumnus at West Chester University in 1995.

          As part of his campus visit, Bass will meet with related topic academic classes and with students for question and answer session.




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