Leon Bass was born and raised in Philadelphia, the birthplace of America’s Constitutional Democracy, and later became the principal of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School. He was a young African-American soldier serving in a segregated army when he entered the Buchenwald concentration camp just after the German guards and executioners had fled.
“I remember going through the gates shortly after our men had gone through, and I saw the walking dead. I saw human beings who had been beaten, starved and tortured. They were standing there, skin and bones, dressed in striped pajamas. They had skeletal faces with deep-set eyes. They had sores on their bodies. One man held out his hands, and they were webbed together with scabs due to malnutrition.
“Something happened when I walked through the gates. My blinders came off. My tunnel vision dissipated. And I began to realize that human suffering is not delegated just to me and mine. Human suffering touches everybody. All people can suffer.”