“You could smell it … the disease and despair. It was the worst, a picture of hell,” says Thayer Greene ’50, thinking back 74 years to when he and his fellow U.S. Soldiers liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp, abandoned by the Germans as the Allies advanced, before World War II ended in Europe.
Greene, a concentration camp liberator turned Amherst College chaplain turned psychotherapist, reflected on his experiences in a Memorial Day piece for The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
“After the war, Greene, who’s originally from New Britain, Connecticut, attended Amherst College, went to seminary, and became a chaplain at the college and a pastor at First Congregational Church in Amherst. In the early 1960s, he became a psychoanalyst. At 93, he still sees patients in his apartment in the Applewood retirement community in South Amherst,” wrote reporter Nick Grabbe.
“My life is a paradox,” Greene said. “At 18, I was trained to kill Germans. In my career as a therapist and healer, I spend my days healing damaged human beings. I am an instrument of life, but for a brief but horrible time I was an instrument of death.”