Scrapbookpages Blog

March 29, 2016

Should the Nazi extermination camps have been bombed by the Allies?

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 6:50 am

This morning, I found a comment on my blog, which was written by Herbert Stolpmann von Waldeck, who seems to be very well informed about World War II and the Nazi “extermination camps” where Jews were murdered. His entire comment is quoted below.

Begin quote

THE BOMBING DEBATE
At the beginning of 1944, the War Refugee Board asked Jewish organizations and other groups helping refugees for suggestions on what it should do. Not one suggested bombing extermination camps or rail lines leading to them. There is no evidence that anybody came up with the idea before May 1944. Apparently the first such proposal was made by a Slovak rabbi, Michael Dov Ber Weissmandel, to the Jewish Agency on May 16. At about the same time, two officials of the Jewish Agency in Palestine separately made similar suggestions. Yitzhak Gruenbaum made his to the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Lowell C. Pinkerton, and Moshe Shertok made his to George Hall, the British under secretary of state for foreign affairs. However, the idea was promptly squashed by the Executive Board of the Jewish Agency. On June 11, 1944, the Executive, with David Ben-Gurion in the chair, overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to ask the Allies to bomb the railroad lines and the death camps, with Ben-Gurion summing up:
“The view of the board is that we should not ask the Allies to bomb places where there are Jews.”

End quote from comment

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. Prior to that, in September 1944, US troops had witnessed their first concentration camp: the abandoned Natzweiler camp in Alsace, which was then a part of the Greater German Reich, but is now in France.

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.

This photograph below, taken at Ohrdruf on April 8, 1945, shows survivors who had escaped during the evacuation of the camp, but came back after the American liberators arrived.

Ordruf survivors pose with Hayden Sears

Ordruf survivors pose with American Col. Hayden Sears on April 8, 1945

Dead prisoners at the Ohrdruf camp

Dead prisoners at Ohrdruf camp

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. The liberators all agreed that these prisoners had been shot, although some witnesses said that they had been shot in the neck, while others said that they had been mowed down by machine gun fire.

On April 11, 1945, just a week after the discovery of the Ohrdruf camp, American soldiers liberated the infamous Buchenwald main camp, which was to become synonymous with Nazi barbarity for a whole generation of Americans. Buchenwald is located 5 miles north of the city of Weimar, which is 20 miles to the east of Gotha, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had set up his headquarters.

The Ohrdruf forced labor camp was a sub-camp of the huge Buchenwald camp. Ohrdruf had been opened in November 1944 when prisoners were brought from Buchenwald to work on the construction of a vast underground bunker to house a new Führer headquarters for Hitler and his henchmen. This location was in the vicinity of a secret Nazi communications center and it was also near an underground salt mine where the Nazis had stored their gold and art treasures.

Buchenwald is located 5 miles north of the city of Weimar, which is 20 miles to the east of Gotha, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had set up his headquarters.

General Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

General Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf on April 12, 1945

The photo above hangs in the United States Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

There has been some speculation that the Germans might have tested an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf. In his book entitled “The SS Brotherhood of the Bell,” author James P. Farrell wrote about “the alleged German test of a small critical mass, high yield atom bomb at or near the Ohrdruf troop parade ground on March 4, 1945.” The “troop parade ground” was at the German Army Base right next to the Ohrdruf labor camp.

Why did General Eisenhower immediately order a propaganda campaign about Nazi atrocities? Was it to distract the media from discovering a far more important story? The first news reel about the Nazi camps called Ohrdruf a “murder mill.”  You can view this news reel film on the Internet.