World War II veterans in Texas were honored Thursday for their role in the liberation of concentration camps across Europe.
The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission hosted a ceremony in the Senate Chambers at the Texas State Capitol, giving medals to liberators and their families. Martha Hartman Schutte, the daughter of Dr. J. Ted Hartman, attended the event representing her father. He crossed Western Europe as a member of the 11th Armored Division, helping to liberate Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. Schutte says remembering the gentlemen who worked to save people is important.
“I think it’s often forgotten,” she said. “It’s not talked about enough and the fact that some of these veterans are still alive is pretty remarkable, so we need to honor them while we still can.”
Schutte remembers hearing her father talk about this history.
“I didn’t really take his stories to heart until I became an adult and I saw some of it with him,” she said. “I went with him on a battle tour in 2010 and we saw places he had fought.”
The commission, with a team from Texas Tech University, has also launched the Texas Liberators Project. It includes oral history testimonies, an interactive educational app and website; a display quality book featuring narratives of 21 Texas liberators, as well as an exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
“It’s about preserving the story and the legacy of these liberators,” Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec said. “They are heroes in the truest sense of the word and it’s also about preserving the story for generations to come. There’s a very strong educational component to this project for high school students and teachers.”