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March 30, 2015

African-American soldier who liberated Buchenwald has died at the age of 90

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 7:21 am

The greatest honor, that an American veteran of World War II can have, is to be recognized as a LIBERATOR of a Nazi concentration camp. The rules that govern this honor say that, to be a liberator, the soldier must have arrived at the camp within 48 hours of the entrance of the first soldiers into the camp.

Leon Bass, an African-American soldier in the U.S. Army in World War II, who claimed this honor, has died at the age of 90. You can read the story on the online Philadelphia Inquirer here.

I previously blogged about the African American soldiers who liberated Buchenwald at

You can read all about the Buchenwald camp on this section of my website:

Leon Bass, an African-American soldier who liberated Buchenwald

Leon Bass, an African-American soldier who liberated Buchenwald

This quote is from the news article:

As a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier in the all-black 183d Combat Engineers Battalion, Leon Bass arrived at the Nazis’ Buchenwald extermination camp just one day after it had been liberated in April 1945.

Bass saw the living skeletons of those who survived. The camp reeked of burned human flesh. The torture chambers were still covered in blood.

After the war, Bass left the Army as a sergeant, returned to Philadelphia, and eventually became principal of Benjamin Franklin High School. He earned a doctorate in education from Temple University.


  1. From what I heard,the military did “group tours”. It is was never one on one. Where did this GI all the sudden become the leading authority on concentration camps? We didn’t really know that much about them or how they operated until we had the trials.

    Comment by Tim — April 1, 2015 @ 2:57 am

    • President Eisenhower ordered that as many US soldiers as possible should be taken, in trucks, to see the concentration camps in Germany. Now virtually every former GI can say that they saw the camps. I wrote about his on this blog post:

      Comment by furtherglory — April 1, 2015 @ 8:41 am

      • I apologize. This ones on me. For whatever reason,I was under the impression after he did his walk through,he’d taken a private citizen and gave that person a “1 on 1” tour of the camp. Sorry. Probably the pain meds I’m on. Guess that’s where I came up with that stuff. Still leaves one question. Have you ever seen them do something like this for any other ethnic group? I mean there’s a ton of movies and articles on blacks in WW2. If it wasn’t for the Nicholas Cage movie where he was the bodyguard to the code talker,I’d never known about them.

        Comment by Tim — April 1, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

  2. The Black Rabbit
    I lived in Camp Dachau over 10 years, been there, seen it, done it! Nothing new to me!

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 31, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    • When did you live there Herb? BRoI has shown that the Baracke X was modified. We’ve discovered that the chimney was rebuilt and that the roof of the delousing chambers had a chimney and 4 outlet pipes removed (probably when replacing the roof). BRoI speculates that this happened around 1958. Did you by any chance ever go around the area of Baracke X? Did you ever checkout the “blood pit” over in that area? When did you first hear speculation that the Americans rigged up the “gas chamber” room, if at all?

      Comment by blake121666 — March 31, 2015 @ 10:36 pm

      • blake 121666
        I first saw the so called Baracke X in June/July 1946, a GI took me there to see what the “Nazis” had done to people. He was partly indoctrinated trying to tell me that the Delousing Chambers were used to exterminate the prisoners. In fact the small cubicles had metal rails attached to the ceiling for coat hangers. I crawled into the last chamber that was half in height as the rest of them and was curious as there was still a dirty padded Jacket hanging about mid-way. It still had a metal tag attached to it with a number on it, which were of the type used at the Stadelheim-Munich Jail. Yet some time back FG of this website mentioned that these chambers are all of the same size. If this is a fact and she can confirm this, alterations have been done.
        I also went into the Gas Chamber and asked James Walters, the GI, to lock the iron door which was of the type similar in warships, the inside surrounded rubber-sealed with and an outside handle. It was completely dark, there was no light of any kind and momentarily I was frightened,that James my friend would leave me there!
        Another debatable point is the lettering of “BRAUSEBAD”, which differs drastically with the rest of the paint as to its age. Others including SS-Guards, former inmates, including myself had heated debates over this point and felt it had been stencilled on after the liberation.
        I have seen the Blood Trench which was sightly behind the crematorium, it was somewhat overgrown with weed and had a sign over partly visible wooden grating, in German that read something like “Blutgraben” from memory.
        I have been right around the entire building but can not recall seeing any chutes that were allegedly used to pour Zyklon B into the interior. It is of poor workmanship. But what I did notice was an Oak Tree on the northern end of the building with a sign under it proclaiming it as a “Hanging Tree”. Both the tree and the sign was later removed, as it probably did not fit into the theme of things. I don’t know.
        I left the Camp at the end of 1956, where I had lived in House 52 B with all the comforts one could have wished for at that time. You are able to check on the finer points on my Blog Dachau KZ

        Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — April 1, 2015 @ 2:01 am

        • I have checked my photos of the disinfection chambers on my website, and I see no evidence that there was ever a chamber that was half the height of the others. Could it be that this smaller chamber was located where there is now a restroom with a green door into it? I never went into this restroom so I don’t know how big it is. Maybe it is just a small room with a toilet and nothing else.

          Comment by furtherglory — April 1, 2015 @ 9:56 am

          • FC.
            I was not aware nor have I ever seen a rest room in 1946, all the rooms were bare except one, it had a crude display of a punishing block of an SS-mannequin with an upraised arm beating an inmate with a truncheon. I am sure in my own mind, that other visitors must have seen this display as well.
            I might repeating myself, but all the Disinfection Chamber were identical except the last one, it was bricked-off to half the hight downwards and white-washed, with the usual metal rail on top of the ceiling. This would indicate that alteration did indeed took place.

            Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — April 1, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  3. It’s great sites like this are around. I don’t remember hearing the first thing about this when I was gioing to school
    (There again I never heard anything about the 761st aka “Pattons Panthers”). I’m sure this man was probably in a position to understand more about what was going on at the camps . The only thing he can’t claim about the slaves,is them being gassed. Other than that,slaves weren’t treated a whole lot better than the Jews . The sad part about this whole thing is this. He fought bravely for his country,yet when he finally came home,he was still just a ni**er. Yes it was just the way things were at the time. It still don’t change the fact that it was totally f**ked up. Think about it. Hitler was the poster child for racism . We couldn’t stand the thought of him. The Americans would shake their fingers at the nazis,yet they weren’t too much better. There was a black tanker . Sgt. Ruben Rivers. He sacraficed himself in order to save lives.
    Nobody bothered to do a write up on him

    Comment by Tim — March 30, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  4. Buchenwald extermination camp????

    Comment by hermie — March 30, 2015 @ 8:49 am

  5. Leon Bass use to tell people about the Buchenwald gas chambers:

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — March 30, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  6. Glory for me, glory for you, glory for Them – EXCEPT GERMANS. Right?

    Comment by Jett Rucker — March 30, 2015 @ 7:41 am

    • Mr. Rucker, is there a chance we can expect a translation of Carlo Mattogno’s very important recent article on the Dachau gas chamber in a forthcoming edition of IH?

      Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — March 30, 2015 @ 8:28 am

      • The Black Rabbit
        Please note the English Translation is available on the website you mentioned, all you have to do is ask for the translation in the upper right corner of your screen. It is rather long and nothing new
        Kind Regards

        Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 31, 2015 @ 12:11 am

        • Machine translations are a fantastic piece of technology, but they’re far from perfect.

          You are very much mistaken about there being “nothing new” in Mattogno’s article. One example being the lengthy quotations and diagrams he provides from an unpublished Jean-Claude Pessac article on Dachau’s morgue/”gas chamber.”

          Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — March 31, 2015 @ 4:45 am

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