World War II Colonel breaks silence about concentration camp liberation

April 17 Chandler Centennial, Yom Ha’Shoah event

Published Thursday, March 22, 2012 11:00 am

When Colonel Edward Shames addresses a live audience on April 17 at the Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA), it will be the first time the 89-year-old war hero has ever spoken about his experiences at the concentration camp Dachau, Nazi Germany’s oldest forced labor camp that opened in 1933. At 6:30 p.m., the Jewish American veteran who now resides in Virginia will give guests a first-hand account of what he went through as a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), and later Easy Company, the unit made famous by the 2001 HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.

“Ed’s own family hasn’t heard this story,” said Beth Archer, an East Valley resident and Shames’ family friend who is helping to bring his story to Chandler. “I think he knew it was about time to document his history. To support a remarkable project like the JCC’s Holocaust Museum project in the process was the right way to do it.”

“We specifically hope that veterans, active duty military members and their families join us at this once-in-a-lifetime event on April 17,” said Steve Tepper, Executive Director of the East Valley Jewish Community Center (JCC), which is hosting the event. “With that in mind, tickets are $5 for the general public and $2 for our country’s heroes.” Tickets may be purchased online at www.evjcc.org or via phone 480-897-0588.

Colonel Edward Shames: A War Hero Remembers has been identified as a City of Chandler Centennial event and falls during the week of Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance. Prior to this event, the public is invited to view one of the museum’s cornerstone pieces for the first time, a WWII-era rail car, on display at CCA beginning at 4:30 p.m. The 11-ton, 30-foot rail car is certified as ‘being of the type and era’ used to transport Holocaust victims to death camps as part of the ‘Final Solution’. Germans used these cars not only for victim transport, but for day-to-day transportation of cattle, and other goods.

“It took an amazing number of volunteers and resources to bring this amazing piece to Arizona,” said Tepper. “The car travelled nearly 11,000 miles to get to Chandler. Its presence here represents a piece of history that we must never forget, but use to ensure that the Holocaust never happens again.”