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April 6, 2013

New documentary film shows 16 photographs from the Ohrdruf camp, liberated by American soldiers on April 4, 1945

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 3:04 pm

It’s April, the 68th anniversary of the American liberation of these infamous concentration camps in Germany: Ordruf, Buchenwald and Dachau. (Mauthausen was liberated by American soldiers in May 1945.) The first camp to be liberated by American troops, on April 4, 1945, was Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald.

A new documentary film, entitled 16 photograhs at Ohrdruf has just been released.  The documentary has its own website, which you can see here.

On April 4, 1945, American soldiers of the 4th Armored Division of General Patton’s US Third Army were moving through the area south of the city of Gotha in search of a secret Nazi communications center when they unexpectedly came across the ghastly scene of the abandoned Ohrdruf forced labor camp.

A few soldiers in the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army reached the abandoned camp that same day, after being alerted by prisoners who had escaped from the march out of the camp, which had started on April 2nd. Ohrdruf, also known as Ohrdruf-Nord, was the first Nazi prison camp to be discovered while it still had inmates living inside of it, although 9,000 prisoners had already been evacuated from Ohrdruf on April 2nd and marched 32 miles to the main camp at Buchenwald. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the camp had a population of 11,700 prisoners in late March, 1945 before the evacuation began.

I have not seen the documentary, so I don’t know what the 16 photographs show, but I am guessing that the scenes, shown in the photos below, are included.

Corpses of prisoners found in a shed at Ohrdruf

Corpses of prisoners found in a shed at Ohrdruf

General Eisenhower views the railroad tracks where bodies were burned at Ohrdruf

General Eisenhower views the railroad tracks where bodies were burned at Ohrdruf

Mass grave at Ohrdruf was opened and the bodies were burned

Mass grave at Ohrdruf was opened and the bodies were burned

Dead bodies found at Ohrdurf

Dead bodies found at Ohrdurf on the roll call square

In the photo above, the prisoners have been partially covered by blankets because their pants had been pulled down, an indication that these men might have been killed by their fellow prisoners after the Germans left. The first Americans on the scene said that the blood was still wet.
One of the American liberators who saw the Ohrdruf camp on April 4, 1945 was Bruce Nickols. He was on a patrol as a member of the I & R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division, Third US Army. According to Nickols, there were survivors in the barracks who had hidden when the SS massacred 60 to 70 prisoners on the roll call square before they left the camp on April 2nd. The body of a dead SS soldier lay at the entrance to the camp, according to Nickols.
The American soldiers were told by the Ohrdruf survivors that these prisoners had been shot by the SS on April 2nd because they had run out of trucks for transporting sick prisoners out of the camp.  Seriously?  The SS men shot the sick prisoners on the roll call square because they had run out of trucks?  Strangely, there were sick prisoners still inside the barracks when the Americans arrived.  Why weren’t they shot?

Colonel Hayden Sears poses with Ohrdruf survivors, April 8, 1945

Colonel Hayden Sears poses with Ohrdruf survivors, April 8, 1945

The photo above shows some of the prisoners who escaped from the march out of the camp on April 2, 1945 and came back to the camp.  They seem to be in remarkably good condition and well-dressed.

Survivors told Eisenhower prisoners were hung with piano wire on this gallows

Survivors told Eisenhower prisoners were hung with piano wire on this gallows

The well-dressed prisoner on the far left, wearing a scarf around his neck, was killed by the survivors of Ohrdruf the day after Eisenhower’s visit.  As it turns out, he was a Kapo, a prisoner who helped the SS men in running the camp.

Four American generals view the bodies which were left out for a week

Four American generals view the bodies which were left out for a week

Citizens of the nearby town of Ohrdruf were forced to look at the bodies

Citizens of the nearby town of Ohrdruf were forced to look at the bodies

Although the civilians in the town of Ohrdruf had nothing to do with the camp, they were forced to come to the camp and view the bodies that were laid out for their benefit.

Why did the Nazis kill the prisoners in a LABOR CAMP? Wouldn’t that have defeated the purpose of the labor camp? Did the prisoners actually die in a typhus epidemic at Ohrdruf?  The American soldiers who liberated Ohrdruf had been vaccinated for typhus, and most of them had probably never heard of typhus.

Why Franklin D. Roosevelt did nothing to save the Jews during the Holocaust…

A new book, entitled FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith, which tells about how President Roosevelt did nothing to save thousands of Jews from the gas chambers during World War II, has just been published; you can read about the book here.

Roosevelt is flanked by Churchill on the left and Stalin on the right

Roosevelt is flanked by Churchill on the left and Stalin on the right

This quote is from the website, cited above:

Historian Rafael Medoff says Franklin Delano Roosevelt failed to take relatively simple measures that would have saved significant numbers of Jews during the Holocaust, because his vision for America only encompassed having a small number of Jews.

“In his private, unguarded moments, FDR repeatedly made unfriendly remarks about Jews, especially his belief that Jews were overrepresented in many professions and exercised too much influence and control on society,” Medoff told The Daily Caller in an email about his new book, “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.”

“This prejudice helped shape his overall vision of what America should look like — and it was a vision with room for only a small number of Jews who, he said, should be ‘spread out thin.’ This helps explain why his administration went out of its way discourage and disqualify would-be immigrants, instead of just quietly allowing the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit.”

Medoff, who currently serves as director of The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, says that there were actions Roosevelt could have easily taken that would have saved well over 100,000 Jews from Hitler’s extermination camps.

“He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives,” Medoff said.

“He could have pressed the British to open Palestine’s doors to Jewish refugees. He could have authorized the use of empty troop-supply ships to bring refugees to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until the end of the war. He could have permitted refugees to stay as tourists in a U.S. territory, such as the Virgin Islands, until it was safe for them to return to Europe. He could have authorized the bombing of Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it, which would have interrupted the mass-murder process.”

Asked to respond to the argument that it was better for Roosevelt to focus on winning the war than divert resources to bomb Auschwitz, Medoff said “[b]ombing Auschwitz would not have required any diversion of resources, because U.S. planes were already bombing targets that were less than five miles from the gas chambers, during the summer and autumn of 1944.”

It is true that U.S. planes were bombing the Monowitz (Auschwitz III) camp where the Nazis had factories; the photo below shows a bomb shelter at Monowitz.  The bomb shelter was for the SS men at Monowitz, not for the Jewish workers.

Bomb shelter for the SS men at the Auschwitz III camp, aka Monowitz

Bomb shelter for the SS men at the Auschwitz III camp, aka Monowitz

If U.S. planes could bomb the factories at the Auschwitz III camp, why wouldn’t President Roosevelt authorize the bombing of the gas chambers?

According to the testimony of Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen at the Nuremberg IMT, there were gas chambers at Monowitz.  Dr. Morgen’s testimony is included in IMT vol. XX, p. 550 – 551.

This quote is from the testimony of Dr. Morgen at the Nuremberg IMT on August 8, 1946:

Then the trucks left. They did not go to the Auschwitz concentration camp, but in another direction, to the Monowitz extermination camp, which was some kilometers distant. This extermination camp consisted of a series of crematoria not recognizable as such from the outside. They could be mistaken for large bath installations. Even the detainees knew it. These crematoria were surrounded by barbed wire and were tended on the inside by the Jewish working groups already mentioned.  […]

The Monowitz extermination camp was set apart from the concentration camp. It was situated in a vast industrial zone and was not recognizable as such. Chimneys smoked all across the horizon. The camp itself was guarded on the outside by a detachment of Balts, Estonians, Lithuanians, and by Ukrainians. The entire procedure was almost entirely in the hands of the detainees themselves, who were supervised only from time to time by a subordinate officer (Unterführer ). The execution itself was carried out by another Unterführer who released the gas into that place.

Strangely, the Allies did not do any research on the Auschwitz camps, or they would have discovered that there was a “Gaskammer” in the Monowitz camp, where they were bombing the factories.  I previously wrote this blog post about the proof that the Nazis used Gaskammern.

The most frequent criticism of President Roosevelt, who failed to stop the Holocaust, centers on the claim that U.S. planes could have bombed the tracks leading to the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau.  U.S. planes did, in fact, bomb the railroad tracks in Germany, which caused even more deaths of Jews, but did not stop the gassing.  For example, the deaths of thousands of Jews on the “death train” to Dachau, which you can read about on my website here.

On March 1, 1941, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who was in charge of all the concentration camps, stood on a railroad overpass in the town of Auschwitz and selected the location of a new addition to the Auschwitz camp, which would become the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau. At that time, the invasion of the Soviet Union and the plan to “ausrotten” (exterminate) all the Jews in Europe was only months away.

From the overpass, the railroad tracks lead directly to the Gate of Death, which is the iconic entrance into Auschwitz-Birkenau. The railroad spur line that goes through the gate house begins on the left side of the gate, about a quarter of a mile away, and curves around until it forms a straight line in front of the gate.  The photo below shows the tracks entering the camp.

Railroad tracks entering the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

Railroad tracks entering the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

Trains coming from the west entered the Birkenau camp from tracks on the left side of the gate, as you are facing it, and did not pass the railroad station in the town of Auschwitz. Trains coming from the opposite direction passed the train station in Auschwitz and then entered the camp on the spur line. The train tracks end only a few yards from two of the gas chambers inside the Birkenau camp.

The town of Auschwitz was a major railroad hub, with many train tracks coming into it; there was a large marshaling yard near the Auschwitz station. Standing on the railroad overpass in 1941, Himmler realized that Birkenau was an ideal location for transporting people by rail from all over Europe, although the plans for exterminating the Jews were not finalized until the Nazis were confident that they would win their war against the Soviet Union.

To get back to the book entitled FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith, this quote is from the article which you can read in full here:

Why did you decide to write the book?

My research uncovered important new information about America’s response to the Holocaust — including such critical issues as FDR’s private feelings about Jews, the Roosevelt administration’s decision to shut America’s doors to Jewish refugees and its refusal to bomb Auschwitz.

What do you think Roosevelt could have done to save victims of the Holocaust that he didn’t?

He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives. (Instead, the administration imposed extra requirements that disqualified most would-be immigrants.) He could have pressed the British to open Palestine’s doors to Jewish refugees. He could have authorized the use of empty troop-supply ships to bring refugees to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until the end of the war. He could have permitted refugees to stay as tourists in a U.S. territory, such as the Virgin Islands, until it was safe for them to return to Europe. He could have authorized the bombing of Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it, which would have interrupted the mass-murder process.

Why wasn’t it a preferable strategy, as some suggest, to use all American resources to end the war quickly — and thus liberate the concentration camps earlier — than to divert resources to bomb Auschwitz?

Bombing Auschwitz would not have required any diversion of resources, because U.S. planes were already bombing targets that were less than five miles from the gas chambers, during the summer and autumn of 1944. Incidentally, one of the American pilots who flew over Auschwitz in 1944 was young George McGovern, the future presidential nominee.

The Nazis believed that President Roosevelt was a crypto Jew or a “secret Jew” himself. They called him “Rosenfeld.”  Hitler believed that President Roosevelt wanted to destroy Germany because Roosevelt was secretly a Jew.