February 12th, 2011

89th

Walter Valesky

This semester we have to choose an archive at the WW II Museum and write a biography related to the collection. I’ve not quite started which is probably why I am still enthusiastic about the undertaking. I’ve selected a rather large and unprocessed collection of Walter Valesky. I know only that he was a part of the 89th Division, the first to come across and liberate a camp, Ohrdruf, a death branch of Buchenwald. The collection contains many photographs of Walter’s service, including training posts in the US, German POWs, corpses in the snow, Camp Lucky Strike, and side sightseeing excursions that essentially trace his march across Europe.

Because the collections are not yet open to the public and many, like mine, are still unprocessed, this is an ideal opportunity to conduct fresh and potentially publishable research. I tend to develop a personal attachment to research subjects (shouldn’t we?) and I’ve begun to imagine Walter’s disembarking in France on a freezing January night. it is here i hope to follow Walter and tell his story.