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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.