Peter Thomas was born in Pensacola, Florida. He felt a great deal of hatred for the German people because his grandfather, a British army colonel, was killed in World War I. Peter enlisted in the army as a private in 1943. He was assigned to the First Army Division, Special Unit MP Platoon.
Peter’s division entered a camp called Dora-Nordhausen in 1945 to do “mop-up operations.” Peter did not know what a concentration camp was until he entered Nordhausen. He recalled entering the camp, surrounded by electrified barbed wire and being silently greeted by “very emaciated men and women, some of whom were 14 and 15 years old.” They entered buildings and saw decayed bodies lying among the half-living. Peter tried to comfort them but they just stared ahead in silence. The camp overwhelmingly smelled of excrement and of the dead bodies strewn about.
The soldiers were angered with what they saw so they went into the town of Nordhausen and brought the townspeople to see what had transpired in the camp. The townspeople swore ignorance and appeared shocked. The unit stayed at the camp for two days and transferred the inmates to Ansbach DP camp with food and clothing. Guards who remained at Nordhausen were executed by a US army unit.
Thomas later returned to the United States, married and lived in New York City. Thomas delivered many lectures to schools and other educational groups about his experiences.