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April 14, 2012

Elie Wiesel was saved from the gas chamber at Buchenwald by soldiers in the 1st Infantry Division who liberated the camp

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:35 am

I am indebted to a reader of my blog, who wrote a comment and provided a link to an article, written by Desiree Chen, in which she states that Abner S. Ganet was one of the soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division, which liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.

Dead bodies found by American soldiers at Buchenwald

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum gives the credit for liberating Buchenwald to the 6th Armored Division, but what do they know?

This quote is from the article written by Desiree Chen:

But the man [Abner S. Ganet] known for his outspokenness had always been silent about one thing: his tour as an American soldier in World War II, and the day in 1945 when his 1st Infantry Division liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. Mr. Ganet’s military service would earn him a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for bravery.

It wasn’t until 50 years later, in 1995, when Mr. Ganet realized he could no longer remain silent. That year, he met Nobel Peace Prize recipient, acclaimed author and death-camp survivor Elie Wiesel, who had come to Elmhurst College to speak during the College’s annual Holocaust Education Project.

“Wiesel asked if I had been in the war,” Mr. Ganet recalled in a 2004 interview for the College’s magazine, Prospect. “I said, Yes, Buchenwald.’ He said, ‘You liberated me.’”

Wiesel had been slated for the gas chamber on the day Ganet’s unit arrived and the camp’s guards fled.

The USHMM  claims that the 1st Infantry Division liberated Falkenau an der Eger, a sub-camp of Flossenbürg.  In 1995, Ganet was 70 years old.  Did his memory fail him, or is the USHMM wrong about which division liberated Buchenwald?

Elie Wiesel was first sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944, but the Nazis were not gassing people on the night that he arrived. (On that night, they were burning prisoners alive in two separate ditches — the babies in one and the adults in another.) Elie was marched out of Birkenau in January 1945 and put on a train to Buchenwald.

In an interview with Time magazine on March 18, 1945, Elie Wiesel said this:

In Buchenwald they sent 10,000 to their deaths every day. I was always in the last hundred near the gate. They stopped. Why?”

What? You don’t believe that there was a gas chamber at Buchenwald?

Sign on the Buchenwald gate “To Each his Own” in English

On the web site of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, there is a reference to a gas chamber at Buchenwald, where prisoners in the Ohrdruf “holding facility” were sent to be gassed:

“On April 4, 1945, elements of the United States Army’s 89th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division captured the Ohrdruf concentration camp outside the town of Gotha in south central Germany. Although the Americans didn’t know it at the time, Ohrdruf was one of several sub-camps serving the Buchenwald extermination camp, which was close to the city of Weimar several miles north of Gotha. Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald. “

In fact, Buchenwald was the place where the Nazis first tested Zyklon-B on humans, according to this website:

In January or February, 1940, 250 Gypsy children from Brno in the Buchenwald concentration camp were used as guinea pigs for testing the Zyklon B gas.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in 1946, the French prosecutor submitted an official report which stated:

Everything had been provided for down to the smallest detail. In 1944, at Buchenwald, they had even lengthened a railway line so that the deportees might be led directly to the gas chamber. Certain [of the gas chambers] had a floor that tipped and immediately directed the bodies into the room with the crematory oven.

Sir Hartley Shawcross, the chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial, stated in his closing speech that murder had been conducted “like some mass production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens” in Buchenwald and other Nazi concentration camps.

Jean-Paul Renard, a French priest who was an inmate at Buchenwald, wrote a book about his camp experiences in which he stated:

I saw thousands and thousands of persons going into the showers. Instead of liquid, asphyxiating gases poured out over them.

In a book published in 1947, Georges Henocque, another French priest and the former chaplain of the Saint-Cyr Military Academy, wrote a detailed description of the inside of the gas chamber in Buchenwald, which he claimed that he had visited.

Would a priest lie?  Two priests wrote that there was a gas chamber at Buchenwald, so it must be true.  Thank God the 1st Infantry Division arrived just in time to save Elie Wiesel from an ignominious death in the gas chamber.

You can read an analysis, by Robert E. Reis, of Elie Wiesel’s book Night on another website here.

Elie Wiesel says that he was a prisoner in the “Small Camp” at Buchenwald.  This was the quarantine section for prisoners who had newly arrived.  They had to stay in this section until it was known that they had no diseases that might spread throughout the camp.  The Jews who were brought to Buchenwald, after the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was abandoned, were kept in this camp for months. Elie says that he was eventually taken to the orphan barracks in the Buchenwald camp after his father died.

The “Small Camp” was separated from the main part of the camp by a barbed wire fence and a gate that was made of wood and barbed wire.  A photo of the gate is shown below.

Barbed wire fence and gate that divided the “Small Camp” from the main part of the Buchenwald camp, which is shown in the background