Sources state that at least twice in his actual diary, Patton referred to the Jewish displaced persons (DP) as “animals.”
Here is what Patton thought about Earl G. Harrison, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s law school who had inspected the concentration camps:
“Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to Jews who are lower than animals.”
Harrison also wrote a report to President Harry Truman about the concentration camps.
These excerpts from Patton’s letters and diaries can be found in “The Patton Papers,” a collection edited by Martin Blumenson, a military historian.
Remarkably, O’Reilly and his researcher Marin Dugard cite the Blumenson volume in their bibliography but make no mention of the passages quoted.
Sources state that O’Reilly exhibits appropriate horror at Nazi atrocities and cites the two instances were Patton slapped hospitalized GIs claiming shell shock, but is silent about Patton’s anti-Semitism.
According to writer Richard Cohen: “As Truman’s letter suggests, this was not a personal and irrelevant belief that had no practical application. It was a bigotry that warped Patton’s judgment and affected his treatment of some of history’s most unfortunate people. Some of his ‘animals’ had just survived Auschwitz.”
Patton didn’t seem to care.
He had witnessed the liberation of the concentration camp at Ohrdruf, a hideous place of unimaginable cruelty, and while what he saw led him, as O’Reilly writes, “to vomit at the side of the building,” it seemed to make no lasting impression.
When he later took command of the DP camps, he not only made the survivors feel they were once again imprisoned but put one-time Nazi sympathizers in with the Jews, adding an element of sheer terror.