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Buchenwald (; literally '
beech forest Beech Forest is a town in Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia. The area of Beech Forest is largely used for potato farming. The town was named after the many Nothofagus cunninghamii, myrtle beech trees of the area. Beech Forest Post Office ...

beech forest
') was a
Nazi concentration camp From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany operated more than a thousand concentration camps, (officially) or (more commonly). The Nazi concentration camps are distinguished from other types of Nazi camps such as forced-labor camps, as well as concentr ...
established on hill near
Weimar Weimar (; la, Vimaria or Vinaria) is a city in the federal state of Thuringia, Germany. It is located in Central Germany (cultural area), Central Germany between Erfurt in the west and Jena in the east, approximately southwest of Leipzig, nor ...

Weimar
,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
, in July 1937. It was one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps within Germany's 1937 borders. Many actual or suspected
communist Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

communist
s were among the first internees. Prisoners came from all over
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jew
s,
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Poles
and other
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central Europe, ...

Slavs
, the mentally ill and physically disabled, political prisoners,
Romani people The Romani (also spelled Romany , ), colloquially known as Roma, are an ethnic group, traditionally nomadic s living mostly in Europe, and populations in the Americas. The Romani as a people originate from the northern , from the , , an ...

Romani people
,
Freemasons Freemasonry or Masonry refers to Fraternity, fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local guilds of Stonemasonry, stonemasons that, from the end of the 13th century, regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their inter ...
, and prisoners of war. There were also ordinary criminals and sexual "deviants". All prisoners worked primarily as forced labor in local armaments factories. The insufficient food and poor conditions, as well as deliberate executions, led to 56,545 deaths at Buchenwald of the 280,000 prisoners who passed through the camp and its 139 subcamps. The camp gained notoriety when it was liberated by the United States Army in April 1945; Allied commander
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term " ...
visited one of its subcamps. From August 1945 to March 1950, the camp was used by the
Soviet occupation During World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed several countries effectively handed over by Nazi Germany in the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. These included Kresy, the eastern regions of Second Polish Republic, Poland (incor ...
authorities as an internment camp, NKVD special camp Nr. 2, where 28,455 prisoners were held and 7,113 of whom died. Today the remains of Buchenwald serve as a memorial and permanent exhibition and museum.


Establishment

The ''
Schutzstaffel The ''Schutzstaffel'' (SS; also stylized as ''ᛋᛋ'' with Armanen runes The Armanen runes (or ''Armanen Futharkh'') are a series of 18 runes, closely based on the historical Younger Futhark, introduced by Austrian mysticist and Germ ...
'' (SS) established Buchenwald concentration camp at the beginning of July 1937. The camp was to be named , after the hill in
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth smallest of the sixteen German States (including City States). It ...
upon whose north slope the camp was established. The proposed name was deemed inappropriate, because it carried associations with several important figures in German culture, especially
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
writer
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
. Instead the camp was to be named Buchenwald, in reference to the
beech Beech (''Fagus'') is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), ...

beech
forest in the area. However,
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...

Holocaust
researcher wrote that SS leaders chose the site of the camp precisely to erase the cultural legacy of the area. After the area of the camp was cleared of trees, only one large oak remained, supposedly one of
Goethe's Oak Goethe Oak (or Goethes Oak), is a name given to a number of oak trees in Germany that are referred to in this way because they allegedly bear some sort of connection to the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. History Perhaps the most famous one is the ...
s. On the main gate, the motto ''
Jedem das Seine
Jedem das Seine
'' (English: "To each his own"), was inscribed. The SS interpreted this to mean the "
master race The master race (german: Herrenrasse, also referred to as ''Herrenvolk'' () "master people") is a concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative Nordic or Aryan race The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the late ...
" had a right to humiliate and destroy others. It was designed by Buchenwald prisoner and
Bauhaus The Staatliches Bauhaus (), commonly known as the Bauhaus (German: "building house"), was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German anc ...

Bauhaus
architect Franz Ehrlich, who used a Bauhaus typeface for it, even though Bauhaus was seen as degenerate art by the
National Socialists Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially as held for reasons that are not purely ...

National Socialists
and was prohibited. This defiance however went unnoticed by the SS. The camp, designed to hold 8,000 prisoners, was intended to replace several smaller concentration camps nearby, including ,
Sachsenburg :''For the Nazi concentration camp, see Sachsenburg (concentration camp)''. Sachsenburg is a market town in the district of Spittal an der Drau District, Spittal an der Drau in Carinthia, Austria. Geography The municipal area stretches along the ...
, and Lichtenburg. Compared to these camps, Buchenwald had a greater potential to profit the SS because the nearby clay deposits could be made into bricks by the forced labor of prisoners. The first prisoners arrived on 15 July 1937, and had to clear the area of trees and build the camp's structures. By September, the population had risen to 2,400 following transfers from Bad Sulza, Sachsenburg, and Lichtenburg.


Command structure


Organization

Buchenwald's first commandant was SS-''
Obersturmbannführer__NOTOC__ ''Obersturmbannführer'' (short: ''Ostubaf''; , ) was a paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray "urban camouflage". A paramilitary organization (als ...
''
Karl-Otto Koch Karl-Otto Koch (; 2 August 1897 – 5 April 1945) was a mid-ranking commander in the ''Schutzstaffel The ''Schutzstaffel'' (SS; also stylized as ''ᛋᛋ'' with Armanen runes ; 'Protection Squadron') was a major paramilitary organization ...
, who ran the camp from 1 August 1937 to July 1941. His second wife,
Ilse Koch Ilse Koch (22 September 1906 – 1 September 1967) was married to Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald concentration camp, Buchenwald (1937–1941) and Majdanek concentration camp, Majdanek (1941–1943). In 1947, ...

Ilse Koch
, became notorious as ''Die Hexe von Buchenwald'' ("the witch of Buchenwald") for her cruelty and brutality. In February 1940 Koch had an indoor riding hall built by the prisoners who died by the dozen due to the harsh conditions of the construction site. The hall was built inside the camp, near the canteen, so that oftentimes Ilse Koch could be seen riding in the morning to the beat of the prisoner orchestra. Koch himself was eventually imprisoned at Buchenwald by the Nazi authorities for incitement to murder. The charges were lodged by Prince Waldeck and Dr. Morgen, to which were later added charges of
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying, or deliberately withholding information, or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, ...
,
embezzlement Embezzlement is the act of withholding asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produ ...
,
black market Barcelona 2015 A black market, underground economy or shadow economy, is a clandestine ''The ClanDestine'' (also known simply as ''ClanDestine'') is an appellation used to refer to the Destines, a fictional secret family of long-lived su ...
dealings, and exploitation of the camp workers for personal gain. Other camp officials were charged, including Ilse Koch. The trial resulted in Karl Koch being sentenced to death for disgracing both himself and the SS; he was executed by firing squad on April 5, 1945, one week before American troops arrived.
Ilse Koch Ilse Koch (22 September 1906 – 1 September 1967) was married to Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald concentration camp, Buchenwald (1937–1941) and Majdanek concentration camp, Majdanek (1941–1943). In 1947, ...

Ilse Koch
was sentenced to a term of four years' imprisonment after the war. Her sentence was reduced to two years and she was set free. She was subsequently arrested again and sentenced to life imprisonment by the post-war German authorities; she committed suicide in
Aichach Aichach () is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and ...
(Bavaria) prison in September 1967. The second commandant of the camp, between 1942 and 1945, was
Hermann Pister Hermann Pister (21 February 1885, Lübeck – 28 September 1948, Landsberg am Lech) was an SS Oberführer (Senior Colonel) and commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp from 21 January 1942 until April 1945. Early life Pister was the son of a f ...

Hermann Pister
(1942–1945). He was tried in 1947 (
Dachau Trials The Dachau trials were held for all war criminals caught in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in No ...
) and sentenced to death, but on 28 September 1948 he died in
Landsberg Prison Landsberg Prison is a penal facility in the town of Landsberg am Lech in the southwest of the Germany, German state of Bavaria, about west-southwest of Munich and south of Augsburg. It is best known as the prison where Adolf Hitler was held i ...
of a heart attack before the sentence could be carried out.


Female prisoners and overseers

The number of women held in Buchenwald was somewhere between 500 and 1,000. The first female inmates were twenty political prisoners who were accompanied by a female SS guard (''Aufseherin''); these women were brought to Buchenwald from Ravensbrück in 1941 and forced into sexual slavery at the camp's
brothel A brothel, bordello, ranch, or whorehouse is a place where people engage in sexual activity Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality ...
. The SS later fired the SS woman on duty in the brothel for corruption; her position was taken over by "brothel mothers" as ordered by SS chief
Heinrich Himmler Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (; 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was of the (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationa ...
. The majority of women prisoners, however, arrived in 1944 and 1945 from other camps, mainly
Auschwitz The Auschwitz concentration camp () was a complex of over 40 concentration In chemistry, concentration is the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. Several types of mathematical description can be distinguishe ...

Auschwitz
, Ravensbrück, and Bergen Belsen. Only one barracks was set aside for them; this was overseen by the female block leader (''Blockführerin'') Franziska Hoengesberg, who came from Essen when it was evacuated. All the women prisoners were later shipped out to one of Buchenwald's many female satellite camps in
Sömmerda Sömmerda is a town near Erfurt in Thuringia, Germany, on the Unstrut river. It is the capital of the Sömmerda (district), district of Sömmerda. History Archeological digs in the area that is now Sömmerda, formerly Leubingen, have uncovered ...
,
Buttelstedt Buttelstedt is a town and a former municipality in the Weimarer Land district, in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated 11 km north of Weimar. Since 1 January 2019, it is part of the municipality Am Ettersberg. History Within the German Empire ( ...
,
Mühlhausen Mühlhausen () is a city in the north-west of Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth sma ...

Mühlhausen
,
Gotha Gotha () is the fifth-largest city in Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazi ...
,
Gelsenkirchen Gelsenkirchen (, , ; wep, Gelsenkiärken) is the 11th largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and its 262,528 (2016) inhabitants make it the List of cities in Germany by population, 25th largest city of ...
,
Essen Essen (; Latin: ''Assindia'') is the central and, after Dortmund, second-largest city of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. Its population of makes it the fourth-largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dor ...

Essen
,
Lippstadt Lippstadt () is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the largest town within the district of Soest. Lippstadt is situated about 60 kilometres east of Dortmund, 40 kilometres south of Bielefeld and 30 kilometres west of Paderborn. Geo ...
,
Weimar Weimar (; la, Vimaria or Vinaria) is a city in the federal state of Thuringia, Germany. It is located in Central Germany (cultural area), Central Germany between Erfurt in the west and Jena in the east, approximately southwest of Leipzig, nor ...

Weimar
,
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low German, Low Saxon, Meideborg ) is the capital and second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony-Anhalt, after Halle (Saale). It is situated on the Elbe River. Otto I, Holy Roman Emp ...

Magdeburg
, and
Penig Penig () is a town in the district of Mittelsachsen Mittelsachsen ("Central Saxony") is a district (''Districts of Germany, Kreis'') in the Free State of Saxony, Germany. History The district was established by merging the former districts of ...
, to name a few. No female guards were permanently stationed at Buchenwald.
Ilse Koch Ilse Koch (22 September 1906 – 1 September 1967) was married to Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald concentration camp, Buchenwald (1937–1941) and Majdanek concentration camp, Majdanek (1941–1943). In 1947, ...

Ilse Koch
served as head supervisor (''Oberaufseherin'') of 22 other female guards and hundreds of women prisoners in the main camp. More than 530 women served as guards in the vast Buchenwald system of subcamps and external commands across Germany. Only 22 women served/trained in Buchenwald, compared to over 15,500 men.


Subcamps

The first subcamps of Buchenwald were established in 1941 so that the prisoners could work in nearby SS industries. In 1942, the SS began to use its forced labor supply for armaments production. Because it was more economical to rent out prisoners to private firms, subcamps were set up near factories which had a demand for prisoner labor. Private firms paid the SS between 4 and 6
Reichsmark The Reichsmark (; sign A sign is an object, quality, event, or entity whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. A natural sign bears a causal relation to its object—for instance, thu ...

Reichsmark
s per day per prisoner, resulting in an estimated 95,758,843 Reichsmarks in revenue for the SS between June 1943 and February 1945. There were 136 subcamps in all. Conditions were worse than at the main camp, with prisoners provided insufficient food and inadequate shelter.


Allied POWs

Although it was highly unusual for German authorities to send
Western Allied : Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill meeting at the Cairo Conference (1943), Cairo Conference in 1943 The Allies of World War II were a group of countries that together opposed the Axis powers during ...
POWs to concentration camps, Buchenwald held a group of 168 aviators for two months. These men were from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica. They all arrived at Buchenwald on August 20, 1944. All these airmen were in aircraft that had crashed in
occupied France The Military Administration in France (german: Militärverwaltung in Frankreich; french: Occupation de la France par l'Allemagne) was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist ...
. Two explanations are given for them being sent to a concentration camp: first, that they had managed to make contact with the
French Resistance The French Resistance (french: La Résistance) was a collection of organisations who fought the Nazi occupation of France The Military Administration in France (german: Militärverwaltung in Frankreich; french: Occupation de la France par l ...
, some were disguised as civilians, and they were carrying false papers when caught; they were therefore categorized by the Germans as
spies
spies
, which meant their rights under the
Geneva Convention file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions comprise four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish the s ...
were not respected. The second explanation is that they had been categorised as '' Terrorflieger'' ("terror aviators"). The aviators were initially held in
Gestapo The (), abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for ...

Gestapo
prisons and headquarters in France. In April or August 1944, they and other Gestapo prisoners were packed into
covered goods wagon A covered goods wagon or van A van is a type of road vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses), railed veh ...
s (US: boxcars) and sent to Buchenwald. The journey took five days, during which they received very little food or water.


Death toll


Causes of death

A primary cause of death was illness due to harsh camp conditions, with starvation—and its consequent illnesses—prevalent. Malnourished and suffering from disease, many were literally "worked to death" under the ''Vernichtung durch Arbeit'' policy (
extermination through labor Commemorative plaque in Hamburg-Neugraben Extermination through labour (or "extermination through work", german: Vernichtung durch Arbeit) was the practice in concentration camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large ...
), as inmates only had the choice between slave labor or inevitable execution. Many inmates died as a result of
human experimentation Human subject research is systematic, scientific investigation that can be either interventional (a "trial") or observational (no "test article") and involves human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread spec ...
or fell victim to arbitrary acts perpetrated by the SS guards. Other prisoners were simply murdered, primarily by shooting and hanging. Walter Gerhard Martin Sommer was an SS-'' Hauptscharführer'' who served as a guard at the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. Known as the "Hangman of Buchenwald", he was considered a depraved sadist who reportedly ordered Otto Neururer and Mathias Spannlang, two Austrian priests, to be crucified upside-down. Sommer was especially infamous for hanging prisoners off of trees from their wrists, which had been tied behind their backs (a torture technique known as
strappado The strappado, also known as corda, is a form of torture Torture (from Latin language, Latin ''tortus'': to twist, to torment) is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punish ...
) in the "singing forest", so named because of the screams which emanated from this wooded area.
Summary execution A summary execution is an execution Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
s of Soviet POWs were also carried out at Buchenwald. At least 1,000 men were selected in 1941–42 by a task force of three
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
Gestapo The (), abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for ...

Gestapo
officers and sent to the camp for immediate liquidation by a gunshot to the back of the neck, the infamous ''Genickschuss''. The camp was also a site of large-scale trials for
vaccine A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity The adaptive immune system, also referred as the acquired immune system, is a subsystem of the immune system The immune system is a network of biological process ...

vaccine
s against
epidemic typhus Epidemic typhus, also known as louse-borne typhus, is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters where civil life is disrupted. Epidemic typhus is spread to people through contact with ...
in 1942 and 1943. In all 729 inmates were used as test subjects, of whom 154 died. Other "experimentation" occurred at Buchenwald on a smaller scale. One such experiment aimed at determining the precise fatal dose of a poison of the
alkaloid Alkaloids are a class of basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of ...
group; according to the testimony of one doctor, four Soviet POWs were administered the poison, and when it proved not to be fatal they were "strangled in the crematorium" and subsequently "dissected". Among various other experiments was one which, in order to test the effectiveness of a balm for wounds from
incendiary bomb Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices, incendiary munitions, or incendiary bombs are weapons designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using fire (and sometimes used as anti-personnel weapon An anti-personnel weapon is a weapon ...
s, involved inflicting "very severe"
white phosphorus Elemental phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemist ...

white phosphorus
burns on inmates. When challenged at trial over the nature of this testing, and particularly over the fact that the testing was designed in some cases to cause death and only to measure the time which elapsed until death was caused, one Nazi doctor's defence was that, although a doctor, he was a "legally appointed executioner".


Number of deaths

The SS left behind accounts of the number of prisoners and people coming to and leaving the camp, categorizing those leaving them by release, transfer, or death. These accounts are one of the sources of estimates for the number of deaths in Buchenwald. According to SS documents, 33,462 died. These documents were not, however, necessarily accurate: Among those executed before 1944, many were listed as "transferred to the Gestapo". Furthermore, from 1941, Soviet POWs were executed in mass killings. Arriving prisoners selected for execution were not entered into the camp register and therefore were not among the 33,462 dead listed. One former Buchenwald prisoner, Armin Walter, calculated the number of executions by the number of shootings in the spine at the base of the head. His job at Buchenwald was to set up and care for a radio installation at the facility where people were executed; he counted the numbers, which arrived by telex, and hid the information. He says that 8,483 Soviet prisoners of war were shot in this manner. According to the same source, the total number of deaths at Buchenwald is estimated at 56,545. This number is the sum of: * Deaths according to material left behind by the SS: 33,462 * Executions by shooting: 8,483 * Executions by hanging (estimate): 1,100 * Deaths during evacuation transports (estimate): 13,500 This total (56,545) corresponds to a death rate of 24 percent, assuming that the number of persons passing through the camp according to documents left by the SS, 240,000 prisoners, is accurate.


Liberation

On April 4, 1945, the U.S. 89th Infantry Division overran Ohrdruf, a subcamp of Buchenwald. Buchenwald was partially evacuated by the Germans from April 6, 1945, until April 11, 1945. In the days before the arrival of the American army, thousands of the prisoners were forced to join the evacuation marches. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Polish engineer (and
short-wave Shortwave radio is radio transmission using shortwave (SW) radio frequencies. There is no official definition of the band, but the range always includes all of the High frequency, high frequency band (HF), which extends from 3–30 MHz (100 ...
radio-amateur, his pre-war callsign was SP2BD) Gwidon Damazyn, an inmate since March 1941, a secret short-wave transmitter and small generator were built and hidden in the prisoners' movie room. On April 8 at noon, Damazyn and Russian prisoner Konstantin Ivanovich Leonov sent the
Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: ...
message prepared by leaders of the prisoners' underground resistance (supposedly Walter Bartel and Harry Kuhn): The text was repeated several times in English, German, and Russian. Damazyn sent the English and German transmissions, while Leonov sent the Russian version. Three minutes after the last transmission sent by Damazyn, the headquarters of the U.S. Third Army responded: According to Teofil Witek, a fellow Polish prisoner who witnessed the transmissions, Damazyn fainted after receiving the message. After this news had been received, inmates stormed the watchtowers and killed the remaining guards, using arms they had been collecting since 1942 (one machine gun and 91 rifles; see Buchenwald Resistance). As American forces closed in, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was sending explosives to blow up any evidence of the camp, including its inmates. The Gestapo did not know that the administrators had already fled. A prisoner answered the phone and informed headquarters that explosives would not be needed, as the camp had already been blown up, which was not true. A detachment of troops of the U.S. 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, from the 6th Armored Division, part of the U.S. Third Army, and under the command of
Captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in a ...
Frederic Keffer, arrived at Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 at 3:15 p.m. ( now the permanent time of the clock at the entrance gate). The soldiers were given a hero's welcome, with the emaciated survivors finding the strength to toss some liberators into the air in celebration. Later in the day, elements of the U.S. 83rd Infantry Division overran Langenstein, one of a number of smaller camps comprising the Buchenwald complex. There, the division liberated over 21,000 prisoners, ordered the mayor of Langenstein to send food and water to the camp, and hurried medical supplies forward from the 20th Field Hospital. Third Army Headquarters sent elements of the 80th Infantry Division to take control of the camp on the morning of Thursday, April 12, 1945. Several journalists arrived on the same day, perhaps with the 80th, including
Edward R. Murrow Edward Roscoe Murrow (April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1965), born Egbert Roscoe Murrow, was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent. He first gained prominence during World War II World War II or the Second World War, of ...

Edward R. Murrow
, whose radio report of his arrival and reception was broadcast on
CBS CBS is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S ...

CBS
and became one of his most famous:


Civilian tour

After Patton toured the camp, he ordered the mayor of Weimar to bring 1,000 citizens to Buchenwald; these were to be predominantly men of military age from the middle and upper classes. The Germans had to walk roundtrip under armed American guard and were shown the crematorium and other evidence of Nazi atrocities. The Americans wanted to ensure that the German people would take responsibility for Nazi crimes, instead of dismissing them as
atrocity propaganda Atrocity propaganda is the spreading of information about the crimes committed by an enemy, which can be factual, but often includes or features deliberate fabrications or exaggerations. This can involve photographs, videos, illustrations, intervie ...
. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower also invited two groups of Americans to tour the camp in mid-April 1945; journalists and editors from some of the principal U.S. publications, and then a dozen members of the Congress from both the House and the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Alben W. Barkley.


Aftermath


Buchenwald Trial

Thirty SS perpetrators at Buchenwald were tried before a US military tribunal in 1947, including
Higher SS and Police LeaderThe title of SS and police leader () was used to designate a senior Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right politica ...
Josias Erbprinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont, who oversaw the SS district that Buchenwald was located in, and many of the doctors responsible for Nazi human experimentation. Almost all of the defendants were convicted, and 22 were sentenced to death. However, only nine death sentences were carried out, and by the mid-1950s, all perpetrators had been freed except for
Ilse Koch Ilse Koch (22 September 1906 – 1 September 1967) was married to Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald concentration camp, Buchenwald (1937–1941) and Majdanek concentration camp, Majdanek (1941–1943). In 1947, ...

Ilse Koch
. Additional perpetrators were tried before German courts during the 1960s.


The site

Between August 1945 and 1 March 1950, Buchenwald was the site of NKVD special camp Nr. 2, where the
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imprisoned former Nazis and anti-communist dissidents. According to Soviet records, 28,455 people were detained, 7,113 of whom died. After the NKVD camp closed, much of the camp was razed, while signs were erected to provide a Soviet interpretation of the camp's legacy. The first monument to victims was erected by Buchenwald inmates days after the initial liberation. It was made of wood and only intended to be temporary. A second monument to commemorate the dead was erected in 1958 by the GDR government near the mass graves. Inside the camp, there is a stainless steel monument on the spot where first, temporary monument stood. Its surface is maintained at , the temperature of human skin, all year round. Today the Buchenwald camp site serves as a Holocaust memorial. It has a museum with permanent exhibitions about the history of the camp. It is managed by Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, which also looks after the camp memorial at
Mittelbau-Dora Mittelbau-Dora (also Dora-Mittelbau and Nordhausen-Dora) was a Nazi concentration camp located near Nordhausen, Thuringia, Nordhausen in Thuringia, Germany. It was established in late summer 1943 as a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, supp ...

Mittelbau-Dora
.


Literature

Survivors who have written about their camp experiences include , who in ''Quel beau dimanche!'' describes conversations involving
Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...

Goethe
and
Léon Blum André Léon Blum (; 9 April 1872 – 30 March 1950) was a French socialist politician and three-time Prime Minister. As a Jew, he was heavily influenced by the Dreyfus affair of the late 19th century. He was a disciple of French Socialist lea ...

Léon Blum
, and
Ernst Wiechert Ernst Wiechert (18 May 1887 – 24 August 1950) was a German teacher, poet and writer. Biography Wiechert was born in the village of Kleinort, East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, ...

Ernst Wiechert
, whose ''Der Totenwald'' was written in 1939 but not published until 1945, and which likewise involved Goethe. Scholars have investigated how camp inmates used art to help deal with their circumstances, and according to Theodor Ziolkowski writers often did so by turning to Goethe. Artist Léon Delarbre sketched, besides other scenes of camp life, the Goethe Oak, under which he used to sit and write. One of the few prisoners who escaped from the camp, the Belgian Edmond Vandievoet, recounted his experiences in a book whose English title is "I escaped from a Nazi Death Camp" ditions Jourdan, 2015 In his work ''
Night Night (also described as night time, night-time, or nighttime, unconventionally spelled as ''nite'') is the period of :wikt:ambient, ambient darkness from sunset to sunrise during each 24-hour day, when the Sun is below the horizon. The exact ...
'',
Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel (, born Eliezer Wiesel ''ʾÉlīʿezer Vīzel''; September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016) was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate Nobel laureates of 2012 Alvin E. Roth, Brian Kobilka, Robe ...

Elie Wiesel
talks about his stay in Buchenwald, including his father's death. Jacques Lusseyran, a leader in the underground resistance to the German occupation of France, was eventually sent to Buchenwald after being arrested, and described his time there in his autobiography.


Visit from President Obama and Chancellor Merkel

On June 5, 2009,
U.S. President The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodime ...

U.S. President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
and
German Chancellor The chancellor of Germany, officially the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundeskanzler(:wikt:-in#German, in) der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), is the head of the federal government of Germany, government of Germany ...
Angela Merkel Angela Dorothea Merkel ( Kasner; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician serving as the chancellor of Germany The chancellor of Germany, officially the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Bundeskanzler(in) der ...

Angela Merkel
visited Buchenwald after a tour of
Dresden Castle Dresden Castle or Royal Palace (german: Dresdner Residenzschloss or ) is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German Stat ...

Dresden Castle
and . During the visit they were accompanied by
Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel (, born Eliezer Wiesel ''ʾÉlīʿezer Vīzel''; September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016) was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate Nobel laureates of 2012 Alvin E. Roth, Brian Kobilka, Robe ...

Elie Wiesel
and , both survivors of the camp. , the director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and honorary professor of
University of Jena The University of Jena, officially the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (german: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, abbreviated FSU, shortened form ''Uni Jena''), is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the prac ...
, guided the four guests through the remainder of the site of the camp. During the visit Wiesel, who together with Herz were sent to the Little camp as 16-year-old boys, said, "if these trees could talk." His statement marked the irony about the beauty of the landscape and the horrors that took place within the camp. President Obama mentioned during his visit that he had heard stories as a child from his great uncle, who was part of the
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, the first Americans to reach the camp at Ohrdruf, one of Buchenwald's satellites. Obama was the first sitting US President to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp.


See also

* Buchenwald Resistance *
List of subcamps of Buchenwald The following is a list of the forced labor Unfree labour, or forced labour, is any work relation, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will with the threat of destitution, detention, vi ...
* Number of deaths in Buchenwald *
Ohrdruf forced labor camp Ohrdruf was a Nazi forced labor camp, German forced labor and Nazi concentration camps, concentration camp located near Ohrdruf, Thuringia, Ohrdruf, south of Gotha, in Thuringia, Germany. It was part of the Buchenwald concentration camp network ...
* The Boys of Buchenwald * List of prisoners of Buchenwald


References

Sources *
Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1983 edition
* * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Knigge, Volkhard und Ritscher, Bodo: ''Totenbuch. Speziallager Buchenwald 1945–1950'', Weimar: Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau Dora, 2003.


External links


Official Memorial Site
Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation. * Hardy Graupner

Deutsche Welle, 16 February 2010.
Guide to the Concentration Camps Collection
Leo Baeck Institute, New York City 2013. Includes extensive reports on Buchenwald collected by the Allied forces shortly after liberating the camp in April 1945.
Holocaust Buchenwald Concentration Camp Uncovered (1945) , British Pathé
on
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YouTube
{{DEFAULTSORT:Buchenwald Concentration Camp 1937 establishments in Germany Buildings and structures in Thuringia Museums in Thuringia Holocaust memorials in Germany World War II museums in Germany