History of Communist and Nazi Atrocities

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WW II Veteran Recalls Horror of Buchenwald

 THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

Alan Brylawski, known far and wide as "Mr. B", was the last operator of the Point Lookout Hotel, and owned the former Mr. Donut in Lexington Park for 20 years before retiring and selling his business.  The CHESAPEAKE photo

Alan Brylawski, known far and wide as “Mr. B”, was the last operator of the Point Lookout Hotel, and owned the former Mr. Donut in Lexington Park for 20 years before retiring and selling his business. The CHESAPEAKE photo

HOLLYWOOD — Alan Brylawski, 85, says funny things happen at war, though some horrors still haunt him.

“I am an optimist and humorist. I don’t take life too seriously,” the World War Two veteran said.

War has been part of human culture since man got out of the cave, Brylawski says. “It’s senseless, there are no winners. We slaughter people. Everybody loses.” He said the kind of horror one man perpetrates on another during war is inconceivable, adding once the enemy is demonized everything becomes okay.

“It is either you do it or they are going to do it to you. So self-preservation says you do it first,” he said. “When you see bullets pass you, there’s no question you are under fire. At that point the enemy becomes a demon, devoid of humanity.”

The war saw him going to France, Austria and to the Bavarian Mountain retreat of Adolph Hitler.

Decorated with a Bronze Star, he makes no secret of his present-day anti-war sentiments but said World War II was an absolute necessity. “There’s no question about it.”

Beginning as an armorer to repair small weapons, Brylawski trained as a pilot, but finally became a tech sergeant with the 93rd Chemical Battalion.

He described Adolph Hitler as a madman who wanted to enslave the whole world. “He damn near did it,” had it not been for the Japanese waking up a sleeping giant by attacking Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt aptly called it a ‘Day of Infamy’, Brylawski said.

Jewish himself, he recalls history’s most hated villain embarked about the mad course of ridding the world of Jews, as in his sick mind they were the cause of everything bad.

“There are a few things that I try not to remember,” he said of his war experience. One of them was his visit to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp after its liberation. “The bodies were piled up like stacks of firewood. Those alive were walking skeletons; you could see every bone in their bodies.”

Buchenwald was liberated on April 11, 1945. At one of the rows of prisoner buildings, items found included tattooed and tanned human skin, two shrunken heads of Russian POWs, and a lampshade made of human skin.

It took many, many years for Brylawski to stop seeing nightmares about the camp. “The smell is still with me. I can still smell it,” he said of the stench created by human corpses at Buchenwald.

He said luck helped him in a big way during the war. “Some people said the Lord did it. I don’t think the Lord did it, but if he did it I thank him,” he said. He explains the Lord has far more important things, managing the affairs of the universe on his plate than to turn his attention to any single person.

“Though The Battle of the Bulge was pretty very much over when we got there, some of the boys in our unit got hurt and killed” he recalls. “Overall, we are a lucky outfit.”

Brylawski said he found some of the situations he found himself in quite funny. “At one time I was made a meteorologist,” he said. He served in the 93rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, entrusted with using poison gas if a need arose.

“I am glad they never used it,” he said.

UPDATE: Brylawski returned to Southern Maryland after the war where he and his wife Jean raised their two sons in the Patuxent Park subdivision in Lexington Park.  While he and Jean operated a variety of businesses, he was best known as “Mr. B” for the years in which he owned and operated Mr. Donut, which was located at the corner of Shangri-La Drive and Rt. 235, a block north of the main gate of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.  Jean owned and operated the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Millison Plaza. Alan was also a Magistrate prior to the creation of the District Court system.

Alan Brylawski was the last operator of the old Point Lookout Hotel and wrote a series of columns about life in Southern Maryland in The Chesapeake and his years as the host in the hotel.  After his 20 years of donuts, Alan returned to his former work as a real estate agent and associated with Pat Woodburn in the Long & Foster office in Lexington Park.

In 2011 Jean and Alan sold their home at Marva Point on Cuckhold Creek in Hollywood, Maryland and moved to Florida where Jean died just ten days after their move.

Alan has been sidelined recently with a stumble after a successful morning at the gym and lost his eyesight.

 (Alan Brylawski died in 2016)

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