Paul Claus was born in 1922 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the eldest of three children. Both his father and brother worked for the railroad. Paul pre-empted the draft by negotiating a better assignment with army recruiters. Paul reported to Santa Anita, California. He learned machine maintenance and spent two months learning survival techniques in the Mojave Desert.
Paul was eventually shipped to Normandy three days after D-Day. Once his unit landed, they headed to Germany. Paul was sent to report on Nordhausen, a concentration camp in Germany. Upon his arrival, Paul vomited due to the atrocities he saw. The emaciated prisoners had not eaten in thirty days due to the guards abandoning the camp. Paul could not even feed the prisoners for fear that they would go into food shock and die. Townspeople were called upon to help bury the dead from the concentration camp.
Paul only spent about fifteen hours in Nordhausen, but what he saw will haunt him forever. Paul refused to step into a church after the liberation of Nordhausen. After the war, Paul returned to Harvey, Illinois, where he was unable to find work at first, Paul dated Mary Bolling, whom he had met in high school, and they married and raised five children.