Join keynote speakers WWII Veteran Don Bein, Aiden and Ariah Quimby, the young author and illustrator of a children’s book about him, for a Student Led Virtual Event on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 from 1 – 2pm EDT.
Don Bein – A Wonderful Life
Written by Aidan Quimby
Illustrated by Ariah and Aidan Quimby
Donald Henry Bein was born on June 5, 1925 in Davenport, Iowa. He shipped out to the European theater and arrived at Omaha Beach sixty days after D-Day in 1944. Don was in the 9th Armored Division at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. The “bulge” refers to the wedge that the Germans drove into the Allied lines. The Nazis hoped to divide the line and destroy them. Fortunately, their line “bulged” but it didn’t break. Thousands of heroic men died and it was a turning point of the war.
The Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was unprepared for the Nazi brutality he witnessed at Ohrdruf concentration camp in April 1945. Dead bodies were piled like wood, and struggling survivors looked like walking skeletons. Even as the Allied Forces continued their fight, Eisenhower foresaw a day when the horrors of the Holocaust might be denied. He invited the media to document the scene. He also compelled Germans living in the surrounding towns and any soldier not fighting at the front to witness the atrocities for themselves. He ordered all troops who were able to visit a camp to witness the horrors of the Holocaust. Don Bein and his fellow soldiers were loaded on buses and taken to be witnesses to the horrors of Bergen-Belson concentration camp. He said seeing what happened to the Jewish prisoners there was the worst day of his life.
In 2002, Don told a newspaper reporter in Rockford, Illinois (where he now lives) that he is simply still carrying out General Eisenhower’s orders to him and other soldiers to bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust and share what they saw.