Family of WWII Veteran donates Holocaust photos and war memoirs to Greensboro College
On the second level of the J.A. Jones Library, the Levy-Lowenstein Collection has been growing since its dedication in 2014, according to Will Ritter, head librarian. Recently, in remembrance of Corporal William Thomas McCollum Jr. I am his great-grandson, and I donated photographs, that McCollum took during the war, as well as a copy of his memoirs.
McCollum was born May 17h, 1925 in the Bethany community in Rockingham County, 30 minutes north of Greensboro. He passed away on Oct. 30, 2017. “After graduating from Bethany High School, he was drafted into the armed forces serving in the U.S. Army with the 102nd Infantry Division in Europe and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star,” according to his obituary, on Colonial Funeral Home’s website.
McCollum was present during two very important events during World War II. He served in General George S. Patton’s Third Army and was among the first troops to cross the Rhine River into the German heartland. He was also alongside General Patton when some of the first concentration camps were discovered by the Allies. According to his Memoirs, McCollum is quoted in saying “They left people’s legs sticking out. It was inhuman.” McCollum took photos of the horror that was the Holocaust. Everyone in the family knew he had witnessed the horrors firsthand. They also knew that he had brought home a multitude of war trophies, such as Wehrmacht Infantry Helmets, a Schutzstaffel (SS) Ring and an Iron Cross, which dated back to 1939. However, nobody but his wife of 70 years, Marian McCollum, knew of the photos. They were found in the basement a few months after he passed away.
After I found out about them, I immediately proceeded to have them copied into a binder, which was donated to the Levy-Lowenstein Collection in Fall 2018. January is the official Holocaust remembrance month, and McCollum’s war letters are being donated in honor of this.
Age 21, Cpl. William Thomas McCollum, 1946
Photo courtesy of William Thomas McCollum III
Article by George Knight