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April 12, 2010

Jewish American soldier tells about Buchenwald liberation (updated April 14, 2010)

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 2:45 pm

Dick Arnold, a Jewish American veteran of World War II, gave a speech on Sunday, April 11th, at the Jewish Community Federation’s annual program in Brighton, NY to honor Holocaust victims. Arnold said that he was with the 87th Infantry Division; he claims that he was one of the first four American soldiers to enter Buchenwald on April 11, 1945 the day that the Buchenwald camp was liberated. You can read more about Dick Arnold here and here.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a web site where you can check to see which divisions were involved in the liberation of the camps.  According to the USHMM, the 87th Infantry Division did not liberate any of the Nazi concentration camps, so Dick Arnold couldn’t have been at Buchenwald when it was liberated on April 11, 1945.

Dick Arnold made a video in which he told the story of the liberation of Buchenwald.

Watch Video

Dick Arnold’s version of his part in the liberation of Buchenwald is this:

Upon first arriving at the Buchenwald “murder camp,” Dick Arnold saw “railroad cars which led from the gas chambers (plural) to the crematorium.”  “Slave laborers pushed the bodies from the gas chambers to the crematorium.”

American soldiers view a corpse wagon at Buchenwald

Prisoners loading corpses onto a wagon at Buchenwald

Bodies piled up outside the Buchenwald crematorium, April 17, 1945

General Patton’s Third Army was “on the move” through Germany and the prisoners at Buchenwald heard the guns. The SS guards said to themselves: “We’re Gestapo.  We’re done here.”  So the guards fled THREE DAYS BEFORE THE AMERICANS ARRIVED.

“The prisoners behind barbed wire were emaciated.”

For three days, there were prisoners, chained to the wall in a shed, who had no food because there “were no guards to give them food.”  This shed was different from all the other buildings at Buchenwald.  It was a TOBACCO CURING SHED like those in the southern United States.  The Germans were growing and curing tobacco!  Who knew?

Prisoners inside barracks at Buchenwald

Wooden barracks building at Buchewald

Inside this building, there were two shelves, 7 feet deep, on each side with a corridor in the center. The prisoners were chained by one foot to the wall with their heads pointed to the center of the room.  Fortunately, the Nazis had “left behind chain cutters” so the American soldiers could cut the shackles of the prisoners and free them.  The prisoners in this shed, “grown men,” weighed only 50 or 60 pounds; they were “carried across the street” by the liberators and put into the “nice homes” of the Gestapo.

After saving the prisoners who were still alive in the shed, Dick Arnold says that he “walked into the gas chamber.”  He saw scratches on the walls of the gas chamber where the inmates had “clawed the wall,” trying to escape; the walls of the gas chamber were “blood stained.”  The American soldiers were told not to clean up the gas chamber because “we want the world to know.”

Sorry, but I don’t have a photo of the non-existent gas chamber at Buchenwald.

There is not one word of this story that is true.  NOT ONE WORD.

Update April 14, 2010

The following quote from an article written by Tom Stafford on the web site of the 87th Infantry Division Association tells about a visit by American soldiers to the Buchenwald camp on one of the two days that German civilians were there, which would have been April 15th or 16th:

While marking time, waiting for the Russians who were slowly approaching our lines from the East, we were told by Capt. Kidd, our Company Commander, that higher headquarters wanted several men from each company to take a jeep and visit a recently liberated German concentration camp at Buchenwald — a small village located near Weimar about 70 miles behind our lines — to bear witness to the unspeakable atrocities which had been found there. Lew Goad and I volunteered to visit Buchenwald and, upon our arrival, will never forget what we saw. Etched forever in my memory were piles of dead bodies, at least 10 to 15 feet high, stacked on the ground in several places. Many more corpses had been loaded in open rail cars, apparently waiting to be moved to the crematory ovens or away from the camp. I remember seeing a number of German civilians inside the camp who had been ordered to go from their homes in Weimar and nearby villages to also bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

One of the horrors that Lew and I remember seeing was a small shack located near the crematory ovens, which contained a number of cans with numbers stamped on their lids. We were told that the cans contained the ashes of cremated inmates which could be purchased for a fee by their families. I assume this offer applied only to the families of non-Jewish political prisoners because I am certain no Jewish family member, who might have been hiding somewhere within reach of the Gestapo, would have made their presence known by responding to such offer. I also recall seeing a number of former prisoners milling around inside the camp, so I believe our visit to the camp must have occurred shortly after its liberation.

In fact, I learned later that Buchenwald actually had been discovered on or about April 11, 1945 by a motorized patrol consisting of Capt. Frederick Keffer and three enlisted men from Task Force 9 of 6th Armored Division, while the 87th Infantry Division, having captured Bad Blankenburg to the south, was moving rapidly towards Saalfeld and Plauen. I also learned that shortly after Buchenwald was discovered, a detachment of soldiers and medical personnel from the 87th Infantry Division were sent to the camp to help in providing emergency care and evacuation of the camp’s survivors, most of whom were near death or in extremely poor condition.

Dick Arnold was probably with this “detachment of soldiers and medical personnel” that was sent to Buchenwald four or five days after the camp was liberated by soldiers in the 6th Armored Division.  Only soldiers who were at a camp within 48 hours of the first arrival of US soldiers at a camp are recognized as liberators.

A World War II vet’s memories of Buchenwald

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:37 am

In today’s online edition of The Register Guard, there is an article by Winston Ross about Bill Sarnoff, a U.S. navy man who was sent to Buchenwald for five days to help the survivors after the camp was liberated on April 11, 1945. Now 84 years old, Sarnoff told his story yesterday to more than 100 people who attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day event. Bill Sarnoff was sent to Buchenwald because he was familiar with several European languages. His job was to help by communicating with the sick prisoners in the camp.

According to the article by Winston Ross, here’s what Sarnoff told the crowd in the Thurston High School auditorium, followed by my comments:

“One day the call came from his superiors for any sailor who could speak a European language, and before long Sarnoff found himself en route to Buchenwald, in western Germany, to help the 23,000 surviving prisoners recuperate and ultimately leave the camp.”

Most accounts of the Buchenwald liberation say that there were 21,000 survivors in the camp.

“The only healthy prisoners he met were women, fed adequately so they could be sex slaves for German soldiers, Sarnoff said. He fed prisoners in the shadow of three crematoriums, used to incinerate the dead.”

There was a brothel at Buchenwald, but it was for the prisoners.  There was only one crematorium at Buchenwald. There were 3,000 sick prisoners and 18,000 who were not sick. The photos below show healthy prisoners and the one crematorium.

Some of the 18,000 healthy prisoners at Buchenwald

The one and only crematorium at Buchenwald

Ovens in the one and only crematorium at Buchenwald

“Buchenwald starved and beat to death 238,000 prisoners, Sarnoff said. Prisoners were shipped there weekly, 300 at a time, he said. Those under 105 pounds were sent directly to Auschwitz, to be executed.”

According to a U.S. Army report dated May 25, 1945, there was a total of 238,980 prisoners sent to Buchenwald during its 8-year history from July 1937 to April 11, 1945, and 34,375 of them died in the camp. This report was based on records confiscated from the camp by the US military, after the camp was liberated.

A later U.S. Government report in June, 1945 put the total deaths at 33,462 with 20,000 of the deaths in the final months of the war.

Prisoners were not sent from Buchenwald to Auschwitz to be executed.  It was the other way around: survivors from Auschwitz, who had not been executed, were evacuated to Buchenwald.

“Children ages 6 to 15 were used for medical experiments, injected with typhoid, diphtheria, pneumonia and syphilis, he said. Sarnoff said he saw a brass blowtorch that had been used to burn many children, to see how they would recover.”

This statement by Sarnoff could easily win a prize for the biggest lie ever told.  There were 904 young boys in the camp who were protected by the Communist prisoners who ran the camp.  They ranged in age from 4 years old to 17 years old. (Some accounts say that there was a 2-year-old among the orphans.)

There were medical experiments done at Buchenwald, but these experiments were done to find a vaccine for typhus, which was the disease that devastated all the concentration camps in the last 5 months of the war. The prisoners who were used in the experiments were criminals who had been condemned to death and had been sent to Buchenwald to await their execution date.

The youngest survivors of Buchenwald

“He learned that each new prisoner was given a spoon and a bowl, provided so they could consume a meager ration of watery potato soup. If they lost the bowl, they starved. There were no weeds or grass in the camp, as all vegetation had been consumed by the prisoners.”

It is true that each prisoner had to keep his spoon and bowl in his possession, and he had to keep these items from being stolen.  If a prisoner lost his bowl, he still had a cup that he could eat soup out of, or he could steal someone else’s bowl.  A prisoner who lost all of his dishes and utensils could still eat bread, and he could share a bowl with another prisoner.

Another article published online on April 8th by Glenn Farley/King 5 News had this information about Joe Moser, a World War II fighter pilot who spent two months as a prisoner at Buchenwald:

What gets his daughter Julie Hanes, a nurse, was the torture and the medical experiments carried out on her father and the others.

“They just injected medicines. They didn’t know what they were. They used the same needle over and over and over again,” said Hanes.

According to Wikipedia, there are laws against Holocaust denial in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.  Holocaust denial is punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Austria, and up to 5 years in most other countries.  Isn’t it time to punish Holocaust liars?

This article totaled me out for today; I can’t read any more news about the Buchenwald anniversary celebration.

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