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October 2, 2011

Bertrand Herz, “another Buchenwald survivor”

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:01 pm

Bertrand Herz standing between Angela Merkel and Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald, June 5, 2009

When President Barack Obama visited the Buchenwald Memorial site on June 5, 2009, he was accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Elie Wiesel.  Bertrand Herz was also there. In his speech, Obama referred to Herz as “another Buchenwald survivor.”  Herz remained in the background during the ceremonies and did not give a speech.

On his trip to Buchenwald, the President and his entourage visited the area inside the Buchenwald camp that was known as the “Little Camp.”  Obama mentioned, in his speech, that Wiesel and Herz were kept in the “Little Camp” as boys.

The location of the “Little Camp” as it looks today

The photo below shows the area where the “Little Camp” was formerly located.

Bertrand Herz (on the left) leads the tour of the location of the Little Camp at Buchenwald

In the photo above, Herz seems to be giving an animated description of life in the “Little Camp” which was formerly located in the area to which the visitors are walking. Elie Wiesel claims that he was a prisoner in the “Little Camp,” although there is growing doubt about his story. For some strange reason, there is no Buchenwald registration card nor prisoner identification number for Elie Wiesel. Bertrand Herz has a Buchenwald registration card; his prisoner identification number is 69592.

According to Wikipedia, Bertrand Herz has been the General Secretary of the International Committee of Buchenwald since 2001.  The Memorial sites at Buchenwald, Dachau and Mauthausen are controlled to this day by an International Committee that was formed before the camps were liberated.  (I’m not sure about Sachsenhausen.) The German people have no control over what is shown, or told to visitors, at the Memorial sites; this is controlled by the members of the International Commitees.

In her speech, Chancellor Merkel mentioned Special Camp No. 2 which was set up by the Soviet Union at Buchenwald after World War II ended. German citizens were put into this camp without a trial.  You can read about Special Camp No. 2 on my website here.  You can read about the Buchenwald camp here.

Of course, Obama and his entourage did not go to see the Museum for Special Camp No. 2, nor the graveyard where the bodies of innocent Germans were buried.  The important part of Buchenwald was the “Little Camp,”  a quarantine camp where Elie Wiesel and Bertrand Herz were imprisoned.  The old photo below shows the “Little Camp.”  The Communist prisoners, who ruled the camp, would not allow the Jews to come into their part of the camp at Buchenwald, which is shown in the second photo below.

The “Little Camp” at Buchenwald

Barracks at Buchenwald

Buchenwald was primarily a camp for political prisoners, not a camp for Jews.  It was one of the main camps for Resistance fighters, or illegal combatants.  The photo below shows a monument at Buchenwald which honors the Resistance fighters.

Monument honors illegal combatants who were imprisoned at Buchenwald

Obama used his trip to Buchenwald to rant about Holocaust deniers. According to Obama, Buchenwald is a “rebuke” against those who say that “the Holocaust never happened.”  He also mentioned his great uncle, on his mother’s side of the family, who helped to liberate Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald.

President Obama, and the other three participants in the Buchenwald ceremony on June 5, 2009, each placed a single, long-stemmed white rose on a white Memorial Stone that is flat on the ground inside the camp.

Why a white rose?  I don’t know, but my guess is that this was to symbolize The White Rose Society which was a German resistance organization that was against the Nazis.  Chancellor Merkel might have suggested white roses because she wanted to point out that not all Germans were bystanders during the Holocaust.

President Obama places a white rose at the Buchenwald camp (AP Photo/Oliver Multhaup)

My 1999 photo of the spot where Obama placed a rose

The spot where the roses were placed is shown in the photo above.  This is the spot where the original monument was placed at Buchenwald by the Communist Resistance fighters who were prisoners in the camp.

The original monument is shown in the photo below; it was later moved to the intersection where the road to the camp branches off from Ettersburg Strasse. The white memorial plaque was placed on the ground in 1995.

Original monument erected by the Buchenwald prisoners after they liberated themselves

My 1999 photo of the spot where Obama placed a rose in 2009

The photo above shows the Canteen building and the watch tower at the west gate into the Buchenwald camp. On the far left is one wing of the gatehouse. On the right in the photo, you can see some tourists standing at the spot where the obelisk was first raised by the prisoners on April 19, 1945. The survivors gathered around the obelisk and swore the “Oath of Buchenwald.”


7 Comments

  1. <>

    Whatever one may think of Elie Wiesel, “boys of Buchenwald” can testify that he was one of them. The absence of registration card might be explained by his late arrival, in 1945 from Auschwitz.

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    This is untrue. The Memorial sites are managed by German people. See for instance:
    http://www.buchenwald.de/english/index.php?p=stiftungsgremien

    Comment by Olivier — October 16, 2011 @ 4:01 am

    • Are you denying that the International Committee of Buchenwald has control over what is told to visitors at Buchenwald? The day-to-day management is done by “German people” but the International Committee tells them what to include in the information that is given to tourists. It is the same at the Dachau Memorial Site. Between 1965 and 2003, tourists were told that there was no gas chamber at Dachau; since 2003, tourists are told that the gas chamber was used and that the gas pellets “could have been” thrown through two small windows on the east wall of the gas chamber.

      If the “German people” decided to tell tourists that no prisoners were killed by being hung from hooks on the wall of the morgue at Buchenwald, I am sure that the International Committee would tell them that they could not say that.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 16, 2011 @ 6:11 am

  2. furtherglory, do you have precisions about French minister Leon Blum’s sojourn, who was held for some time at Buchenwald?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — October 2, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    • Leon Blum was imprisoned in the “falconer’s house,” located at the falconery, a place where the SS kept birds of prey. The VIP prisoners were treated very well at Buchenwald; they were not in the camp with the ordinary prisoners.The VIP prisoners at Buchenwald were housed in a group of barracks, called the Fichtenhain Special Camp, which was built in the forest between the SS barracks and the military garages, outside the barbed wire enclosure of the main camp. Leon Blum was singled out for the best treatment of all. A few weeks before the Communist prisoners took over the camp on April 11, 1945, the VIP prisoners were taken to the Dachau camp. They were evacuated to the South Tyrol a couple of days before the Dachau camp was liberated.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 3, 2011 @ 7:30 am

      • Thank you!

        Comment by Eager for Answers — October 3, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  3. “The Communist prisoners, who ruled the camp, would not allow the Jews to come into their part of the camp at Buchenwald, which is shown in the second photo below.”

    If you’re talking about Polish, French and German Communist prisoners than wouldn’t there be a disproportionate number of Jews among them? Wasn’t one of the reasons the NSDAP wanted a Judenfrei Germany was because of Jewish Communist agitators Like Emma Goldman?

    Comment by who+dares+wings — October 2, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    • The Jews had their own Resistance organizations. Jews in these organizations, who were captured, were not sent to Buchenwald. There may have been Jewish Communists at Buchenwald, but most of the Jews were in the “Little Camp” which was a quarantine camp.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 2, 2011 @ 6:07 pm


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