Bremerton’s first snow this fall blanketed our
peninsulas and all of Western Washington and
Oregon. It closed down many school districts and
undoubtedly led to more than a few snowball fights.
I walked the bridge-to-bridge trail this morning to survey the
scene. Here’s my photos from the trek. Do you have a photo you’d
like to share in your neck of the woods? Send them to me at
The Dugout, Ironhead, Psycho Betty’s, Lucy’s Little Hole —
the Sixth Street location long home to the Hi-Fidelity Lounge has
been many different incarnations. It’s back once again,
and its new owners are keeping the classic name.
Eddie Aquino and his wife, Amber, have renovated the space for
more than three months and on Saturday, the lounge will bring back
live music. There are lots of changes inside, including new
bathrooms. (While it may seem strange to point that out, anyone who
visited in the past knows this is a big improvement.)
Elsewhere on this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll learn:
In Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, I chronicle Wetzel’s life from a teen
to his penning “Victory Gardens and Barrage Balloons.” HIs first
byline? The July 31, 1945 edition of the Bremerton Sun. The topic?
Wetzel’s impressions of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The thing that impresses me most is the maturity of his writing.
We’re often told journalists write the first draft of history, but
Wetzel’s story here, documenting the tragedies of the Nazi death
camps, feels like it could have been written yesterday.
Here’s the entire story he wrote:
Horrors of Buchenwald Told In Letter From PFC Wetzel
The Bremerton Sun, Tuesday, July 31, 1945
(The following letter to the editor was written by PFC Frank
Wetzel, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wetzel, 1606 Gregory Way, who
is now in Bavaria with the army. Pvt. Wetzel graduated mid-year
from Bremerton high school to enter ASTP at the University of
Idaho. After finishing there, he was sent to Buckley field in
Denver, then made a plane dispatcher and transfer to Mississippi.
He was then transferred to the infantry in Georgia and from there
left the State for active duty in Europe where he fought with
Patton’s Third army in the 76th division—editor.)
By Pfc. Frank R. Wetzel
SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE — I just returned from Buchenwald and I
feel what I saw should be common knowledge to every citizen of the
U.S. in order to more fully understand the cruel and sadistic
nature of our recently defeated enemies. This is not the work of
just a handful of men— every German condoned with his silence this
project of mass butchery, and is, in part, responsible.
Buchenwald is small — only about the size of two city
blocks — yet the suffering that took place there is
indescribable in its scale and intensity. It is located near the
city of Weimar, in a part of the most beautiful sector of Germany,
but the spector of death hovering in the vicinity dins any
appreciation a visitor might once have had, for it is here that
over 51,000 humans were tortured, burned or starved to death.
MET BY GUIDE
A German-Jewish guide, formerly a prisoner in the camp, met us
at the gate and volunteered to show us around. Three months of good
food had erased all outward signs of malnutrition, but his broken
English was made harder to understand by the loss of most of his
front teeth, knocked out for a minor infraction of rules by an SS
Our first stop was at one of the barracks, typical of the camp.
It was a one-storied wooden building about 200 feet long. Along
each side were bare shelves, starting with the floor and reaching
the roof. These were beds. An indication of the living (?)
conditions is the fact that between 700 and 900 men were crowded
into these structures. The one meal per day, consisting of thin
soup and bread, was not only insufficient in bulk but gave many
diarrhea. The woeful lack of sanitation facilities made long lines
throughout the day and night inevitable.
Perhaps the grimmest part of Buchenwald was the eight ovens used
for burning the dead. By stuffing two bodies in each oven, 32 could
be cremated per hour — even so, the Germans had to work day and
night to dispose of the dead. The ashes were irregularly collected
and used for fertilizer. Evidently proud of his work, the
manufacturer had his name stamped on each oven. I’m sure that none
of the inmates would recommend them for him, however.
I could go on — tell you about the SS men who took their
children on a tour of the camp for being good, or the pitiful
scratches in the concrete walls, made when prisoners were being
strangled, or even about Herman Pister, the “beast of Buchenwald,”
who personally murdered 2800 human beings whose only crime was the
courage to cry out against the outrages of the Third Reich. But why
go on? For Buchenwald is beyond description. The only way to fully
believe it is to see it.