Coordinates : 51°01′20″N 11°14′53″E / 51.02222°N
11.24806°E / 51.02222; 11.24806
BUCHENWALD CONCENTRATION CAMP (German : Konzentrationslager (KZ)
Buchenwald, IPA: ; literally, in English : beech forest ) was a
Nazi concentration camp
Prisoners from all over Europe and the Soviet Union—Jews , Poles
Today the remains of Buchenwald serve as a memorial and permanent exhibition and museum.
* 1 History
* 2 People
* 2.1 Commandants * 2.2 Female prisoners and overseers * 2.3 Allied airmen
* 3 Death toll
* 3.1 Causes of death * 3.2 Number of deaths
* 4 Death marches
* 4.1 Marches to Buchenwald * 4.2 Marches from Buchenwald
* 8 Staff
* 8.1 Commandants * 8.2 Physicians * 8.3 Guards * 8.4 Nazi head of personnel
* 9 Notable inmates
* 9.1 Camp literature
* 10 Modern times
* 10.1 Visit from President Obama and Chancellor Merkel
* 11 Photo gallery * 12 See also * 13 References * 14 External links
The SS constructed
Buchenwald concentration camp
The camp was to be named KZ Ettersberg, but this was changed to
Buchenwald, after the beech forest which surrounds it, since
"Ettersberg" carried associations with the enlightenment writer Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), an iconic figure in German culture.
He lived in nearby
Written in the camp's main entrance gate is the motto Jedem das Seine (English:To each his own). The SS intrepreted this to mean the 'superior race' had a right to humiliate and destroy others. It is embedded in the metal gate so that it can be read properly from inside the camp, rather than when standing outside.
Between April 1938 and April 1945, some 238,380 people of various
nationalities including 350 Western Allied prisoners of war (
During an American bombing raid on August 24, 1944 that was directed at a nearby armaments factory, several bombs, including incendiaries, also fell on the camp, resulting in heavy casualties among prisoners (2,000 prisoners wounded and 388 killed by the raid).
Today the remains of the camp serve as a memorial and permanent
exhibition and museum administered by the Buchenwald and
Buchenwald’s first commandant was
Karl-Otto Koch , who ran the camp
from 1937 to July 1941. His second wife,
Ilse Koch , became notorious
as Die Hexe von Buchenwald ("the witch of Buchenwald") for her cruelty
and brutality. In February 1940 Koch, to his and his wife's delight,
had an indoor riding hall built by the prisoners who died in 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 , embezzlement , black market 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
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
Aichach (Bavaria) prison in September 1967. The second
commandant of the camp was
Hermann Pister (1942–1945). He was tried
in 1947 (
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 . 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
The majority of women prisoners, however, arrived in 1944 and 1945
from other camps, mainly 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
When the Buchenwald camp was evacuated, the SS sent the male
prisoners to other camps, and the five hundred remaining women
(including one of the secret annex members who lived with
Anne Frank ,
"Mrs. van Daan", real name
Auguste van Pels ), were taken by train and
on foot to the
Theresienstadt concentration camp and ghetto in the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
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. Anna Fest was a guard at Ravensbrück, who was later tried and acquitted. Ulla Erna Frieda Jürß was a guard at Ravensbrück, who was convicted of her crimes.
Main article: Phil Lamason
Although it was highly unusual for German authorities to send Western Allied 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
. Two explanations are given for them being sent to a concentration
camp: first, that they had managed to make contact with the French
Resistance , some were disguised as civilians, and they were carrying
false papers when caught; they were therefore categorized by the
Germans as spies , which meant their rights under the Geneva
Convention were not respected. The second explanation is that they had
been categorised as Terrorflieger ("terror aviators"). The aviators
were initially held in
As we got close to the camp and saw what was inside... a terrible, terrible fear and horror entered our hearts. We thought, what is this? Where are we going? Why are we here? And as you got closer to the camp and started to enter and saw these human skeletons walking around—old men, young men, boys, just skin and bone, we thought, what are we getting into? — Canadian airman Ed Carter-Edward's recollection of his arrival at Buchenwald.
They were subjected to the same treatment and abuse as other
Buchenwald prisoners until October 1944, when a change in policy saw
the aviators dispatched to
Stalag Luft III
Buchenwald was also the main imprisonment for a number of Norwegian university students from 1943 until the end of the war. The students, being Norwegian, got better treatment than most, but had to resist Nazi schooling for months. They became remembered for resisting forced labor in a minefield, as the Nazis wished to use them as cannon fodder . An incident connected to this is remembered as the 'Strike at Burkheim'. The Norwegian students in Buchenwald lived in a warmer, stone-construction house and had their own clothes.
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 ), as inmates only had the choice between slave labor or inevitable execution. Many inmates died as a result of human experimentation 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 from trees with their wrists behind their backs (a torture technique known as strappado ) in the "singing forest", so named because of the screams which emanated from this wooded area.
Summary executions of Soviet POWs were also carried out at
Buchenwald. At least 1,000 men were selected in 1941–2 by a task
force of three
The camp was also a site of large-scale trials for vaccines against epidemic typhus 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 group; according to the testimony of one doctor, four Russian 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 bombs , involved inflicting "very severe" 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
Main article: Number of deaths in Buchenwald US Senator Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky) looks on after Buchenwald's liberation. Barkley later became Vice President of the United States under Harry S. Truman
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 back 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.
MARCHES TO BUCHENWALD
MARCHES FROM BUCHENWALD
LIBERATION FROM NAZI GERMANY
Prisoner of KZBuchenwald with member of SS personnel after entry of US Army 1945.
On April 4, 1945, the US 89th Infantry Division overran Ohrdruf , a subcamp of Buchenwald. It was the first Nazi camp liberated by US troops.
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 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 message prepared by leaders of the prisoners' underground resistance (supposedly Walter Bartel and Harry Kuhn):
To the Allies. To the army of General Patton. This is the Buchenwald concentration camp. SOS. We request help. They want to evacuate us. The SS wants to destroy us.
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 US Third Army responded:
KZ Bu. Hold out. Rushing to your aid. Staff of Third Army.
According to Teofil Witek, a fellow Polish prisoner who witnessed the transmissions, Damazyn fainted after receiving the message.
After this news had been received, Communist 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 ).
A detachment of troops of the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, from the 6th Armored Division , part of the US Third Army , and under the command of Captain 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 US 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
Edward R. Murrow
I asked to see one of the barracks. It happened to be occupied by Czechoslovaks. When I entered, men crowded around, tried to lift me to their shoulders. They were too weak. Many of them could not get out of bed. I was told that this building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk. The stink was beyond all description.
They called the doctor. We inspected his records. There were only
names in the little black book, nothing more. Nothing about who these
men were, what they had done, or hoped. Behind the names of those who
had died, there was a cross. I counted them. They totaled 242. 242 out
of 1,200, in one month. As we walked out into the courtyard, a man
fell dead. Two others, they must have been over 60, were crawling
toward the latrine. I saw it, but will not describe it. — Extract
Edward R. Murrow
SOVIET SPECIAL CAMP 2
Further information: NKVD special camps
After liberation, between 1945 and February 10, 1950, the camp was
administered by the
Between August 1945 and the dissolution on March 1, 1950, 28,455
prisoners, including 1,000 women, were held by the
On January 6, 1950, Soviet Minister of Internal Affairs Kruglov ordered all special camps, including Buchenwald, to be handed over to the East German Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In October 1950, it was decreed that the camp would be demolished. The main gate, the crematorium, the hospital block, and two guard towers were spared. All prisoner barracks and other buildings were razed. Foundations of some still exist and many others have been rebuilt. According to the Buchenwald Memorial website, "the combination of obliteration and preservation was dictated by a specific concept for interpreting the history of Buchenwald Concentration Camp."
The first monument to victims was erected days after the initial liberation. Intended to be completely temporary, it was built by prisoners and made of wood. A second monument to commemorate the dead was erected in 1958 by the GDR near the mass graves. Inside the camp, there is a stainless steel monument in the place of the first monument, the surface of which is maintained at 37 °C (99 °F), the temperature of human skin, all year round.
* Karl-Otto Koch from 1937 to 1941
NAZI HEAD OF PERSONNEL
Buchenwald inmates The bullet-ridden body of one SS guard, the other stabbed, who were killed in the Ohrdruf concentration camp soon after the liberation. Buchenwald memorial Buchenwald's crematorium
Roy Allen , American pilot
Jean Améry , writer
Robert Antelme , French writer
Jacob Avigdor , before World War II Chief Rabbi of
afterward Chief Rabbi of Mexico
Conrad Baars , psychiatrist
Fritz Beckhardt , German-Jewish World War l fighter pilot
Bruno Bettelheim , child psychologist
Józef Biniszkiewicz , Polish socialist politician
General Dwight Eisenhower and other high ranking U.S. Army officers view the bodies of prisoners, April 12, 1945 Buchenwald, photo taken April 16, 1945, five days after liberation of the camp. Wiesel is in the second row from the bottom, seventh from the left, next to the bunk post. .
Jacques Lusseyran , blind French memoirist and professor
Henri Maspero , French Sinologist, pioneering scholar of Taoism,
died in the camp in March 1945
Karl Mayr ,
Survivors who have written about their camp experiences include Jorge
Semprún , who in Quel beau dimanche! describes conversations
involving Goethe and Léon Blum, and
There is an account of the Soviet NKVD camp, by former inmate Maria Linke. Born in tsarist-era Russia, daughter of a German foundry manager, she was taken into custody due to her fluent Russian.
Today the remains of Buchenwald serves as a memorial and permanent
exhibition and museum administrated by Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora
Memorials Foundation, which also administrates the camp memorial at
VISIT FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CHANCELLOR MERKEL
On June 5, 2009, U.S. President
Camp gate *
Main camp area *
Inside the crematorium *
The "Corpse Cellar" *
Russian graveyard *
* Buchenwald Resistance * Jonas Valley * KLB Club * List of Nazi-German concentration camps * List of subcamps of Buchenwald * Nazi-German concentration camps * Number of deaths in Buchenwald * Ohrdruf forced labor camp * The Boys of Buchenwald * Topf -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">
* ^ The History of Buchenwald Memorial.
* ^ A B C "Buchenwald and
* Apitz, Bruno : Nackt unter Wölfen ("Naked among the wolves"), a
fictional account of the last days of Buchenwald before the US
liberation; based on a true story. Available as a book in German or as
a film in German with English subtitles. Book ino: Aufbau
Taschenbuchverlag, 1998, ISBN 3-7466-1420-1 . Translations into
English and other languages exist, but are out of print.
* Bartel, Walter, ed. (1961). Buchenwald-Mahnung und Verpflichtung:
Dokumente und Berichte (in German). Kongress-Verlag. ASIN B0000BGX5M
. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1983 edition.
* von Flocken, Jan and Klonovsky, Michael: Stalins Lager in
Deutschland 1945–1950. Dokumentation, Zeugenberichte, Berlin:
Ullstein, 1991. ISBN 3-550-07488-3 .
* Frankl, Viktor E. (2009). ... trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen (PDF)
(in German). Kösel. ISBN 978-3-466-36859-4 . Retrieved 1 May 2016.
* German, Elischewa (2014). Wir wollen trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen
(in German). Norderstedt: BoD – Books on Demand. ISBN 978-3735741035
. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
* Achille Guyaux, bagnard N° 60472: "Blutberg, la montagne du
sang", Bruxelles, Editions Raynard-Ransart, 1948.
* Hackett, David A. (1997). The Buchenwald Reports. Westview Press.
ISBN 978-0813333632 . Retrieved 1 June 2016.
* d'Harcourt, Pierre: The Real Enemy Longmans 2007.
* James, Brian: "The Dream that Wouldn't Die", an account of John H.
Noble’s experiences in Buchenwald under Soviet Rule and the Soviet
camp system in the 1950s, in You Magazine delivered with (The Mail on