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December 5, 2011

African-American soldiers were among the Liberators of Buchenwald

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:05 am

Yesterday, the New York Daily News published a story about Irving Roth, a 16-year-old starving prisoner from Czechoslovakia, who was liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945. One of the liberating soldiers was Rick Carrier, a white soldier in the U.S. Army.

This quote is from the New York Daily News story which you can read in full here:

Rick Carrier was a U.S. Army corporal, utterly stunned by the sight of so many living skeletons crammed inside the barracks of the Nazi death camp (Buchenwald).

Irving Roth was one of those skeletons, a starving 16-year-old Jewish prisoner from Czechoslovakia.

But Roth’s strongest memory of that fateful day is not of Carrier but of the African-American soldier who stepped into his barrack and handed out chocolate.

“I had never seen a black person before,” Roth said. “I tell people you may not know what the Messiah looks like, but I do. One is black and one is white.”  […]

As for the kind black soldier, he is lost to history.

“I remember there were black soldiers there,” said Carrier. “But it was a long time ago.”

The U.S. Army was segregated during World War II, with white soldiers fighting in exclusively white divisions while black and Asian soldiers had their own separate divisions, commanded by white officers.  However, there are several stories of black soldiers being among the liberators of Buchenwald and also the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.

Black soldiers from Headquarters and Services Co. of 183rd Engineers Combat Battalion, 8th Corps, Third Army view bodies at Buchenwald on April 17, 1945

The 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion was attached to the 1126th Engineer Combat Group in April 1945. On April 12, 1945, the 1126th Engineer Combat Group was sent to the town of Eisenach, around 100 kilometers from the Buchenwald concentration camp. Five days later, on April 17, 1945, several black soldiers were sent to Buchenwald to deliver some supplies. For most of the liberated prisoners, this was the first time they had ever seen a black man, and many of them would recall it later in their survivor accounts.   (more…)