Today is an important date in Holocaust history. This is the day that the Ohrdruf camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, was discovered by American troops.
Ohrdruf was the only camp that General Dwight Eisenhower ever visited. Ohrdruf was little known until Obama claimed that his uncle was one of the liberators of Auschwitz; he corrected his statement later, saying that his uncle was one of the liberators of Ohrdruf.
After his visit to the Ohrdruf camp on April 12, 1945, General Eisenhower wrote the following in a cable on April 15th to General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC. This quote is prominently displayed by the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC:
. . .the most interesting–although horrible–sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp [Ohrdruf] near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”
Ironically, General Eisenhower’s words about “propaganda,” turned out to be prophetic. Only a few years later, Paul Rassinier, who was a French resistance fighter imprisoned at the Buchenwald main camp, wrote the first Holocaust denial book, entitled Debunking the Genocide Myth, in which he refuted the claim by the French government at the 1946 Nuremberg trial that there were gas chambers in Buchenwald.
Note that General Eisenhower referred to Ohrdruf as an “internment camp,” which was what Americans called the camps where Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were held without charges during World War II. Ohrdruf was the first, and only, “internment camp” that General Eisenhower ever saw.
I previously blogged about the discovery of Ohrdruf at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/april-4th-the-66th-anniversary-of-the-day-that-american-troops-discovered-ohrdruf/