Warning contains graphic images

Holocaust, Shoah, and Genocide are words that describe something that isn’t describable. The horrors are unfathomable.

Generally, I try to avoid horrific images and focus on personal stories. However, over time we need to be reminded, in graphic detail, of what humanity is capable of doing.

The Nazis murdered on an industrial scale between 1933 and 1945. It was in 1942 they ramped up the operation. It is easy for us to judge what happened then, and yes, we should seek justice. But in 2023, we still haven’t learned the lessons despite knowing the history. Antisemitism is rising again, and far-right and far-left political views are gaining popularity.

The Holocaust was the greatest scale of genocide ever to have been committed, but it is not the only one.

Sometimes we have to be confronted with the results of listening to learn what is the wrong message.

We have no excuse. We have all the tools to our disposal to determine what a good or bad message is.


My Interview with Racheli Kreisberg—Granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal

On 18 December, I had the privilege to interview Racheli Kreisberg, the granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal.

Anyone who has an interest in history, specifically Holocaust history, will know who Simon Wiesenthal is, but in case there are a few people who don’t know.

Simon Wiesenthal was born on the 31st of December 1908, in Buczacz (nowadays in Ukraine). He graduated from the gymnasium in 1928 and completed his architecture studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague in 1932.

He survived the Janowska concentration camp, the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, a death march to Chemnitz, Buchenwald, and the Mauthausen concentration camp.

In May 1945, Wiesenthal, just barely having survived the hardships, was liberated by a US Army unit. Severely malnourished, he weighed less than 45kg by this time. He recovered and was reunited with his wife Cyla by the end of 1945. 89 members of both their extended families were murdered during the Holocaust.

Immediately after the liberation, Simon Wiesenthal started to assist the War Crimes Section of the US Army and later worked for the Army’s Office of Strategic Services and Counter-Intelligence Corps. He headed the Jewish Central Committee of the US Zone of Austria and was also involved with the Bricha, the clandestine immigration of Holocaust survivors from Europe to Mandate Palestine.

Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his life to tracking down former Nazis and their collaborators. He established the Jewish Documentation Center in Linz (1947–1954), with the purpose to assemble evidence of Nazi war crimes.

Simon Wiesenthal started searching for Adolf Eichmann shortly after the war when it had become clear that he was the architect of the final solution, i.e. to annihilate the Jewish People. Simon Wiesenthal was several times very close to catching Adolf Eichmann; however, the latter managed to escape or avoid attending events at which he was expected. In the mid-1950s, Simon Wiesenthal donated his entire archive to Yad Vashem, except for the Eichmann file. He was instrumental in providing the Israeli Mossad with an early picture of Adolf Eichmann. In addition, Simon Wiesenthal provided evidence that Adolf Eichmann lived in Buenos Aires under the name of Ricardo Clement. Eichmann was captured by Mossad on the 11th of May 1960. He was sentenced to death and hung on the night of the 1st of June 1962; his body was incinerated and his ashes were scattered outside Israel’s territorial seawater.

In the interview with Racheli, we briefly discussed her grandfather but focused more on her work for The Simon Wiesenthal Genealogy Geolocation Initiative (SWIGGI). It links genealogy and geolocation data in a novel way. They currently have the country of the Netherlands, the cities Lodz and Vienna and the Shtetls Skala Podolska, Nadworna and Solotwina. SWIGGI shows all the residents of a given house and links residents to their family trees. Simon Wiesenthal’s Holocaust Memorial pages are developed for Holocaust victims.

There are links below, and I urge you to look at them. If possible, please consider givIng a donation to this very noble and well-worthy cause.



If anyone would have told us in 1945, that certain battles we would have to fight again, I wouldn’t have believed it.

I don’t think I have to tell anyone who Elie Wiesel is. But for those who don’t know him, I’ll give a brief overview who he is.

He was born in Sighet (in Transylvania, now a part of Romania, but part of Hungary between 1940 and 1945) on 30 September 1928 and grew up in a Chassidic – and thus Orthodox Jewish – family.

After the Nazis had moved occupied Hungary in 1944, the Wiesel family was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp . Elie Wiesel’s mother and younger sister were murdered in the gas chamber there. In 1945 Elie and his father were sent on to Buchenwald, where his father died of starvation and dysentery. Seventeen-year-old Elie was still alive when American soldiers opened the camp.

Elie is the 7th on the 2 row of bunkbeds, I believe

After World War II, Wiesel became a journalist, prolific author, professor, and human rights activist. He was Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972–1976). In 1976, he became the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also held the title of University Professor. During the 1982–83 academic year, Wiesel was the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in the Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University.

For any further information on Elie Wiesel I am giving you some homework to do. We live in an era where nearly any information you want to get , is at the reach of your fingertips. Do some research on Elie Wiesel on the internet or go in to a library and find one of his books.

The title of this post is a quote from Elie Wiesel of an interview he had with Georg Klein, a fellow Holocaust survivor, in 1986. The clip below is appropriately titled “The world is not learning anything”

It shames me to admit that Elie was so right, the world isn’t learning from its mistakes and history.

On this day his birthday I hope we all pause for a moment and contemplate what world we want to live in. Do we want hate to rule once more? Or do we want love to conquer? I know what I want.

Leaving you with some of Elie’s quotes:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”





Jedem das Seine

+++++++COTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES+++++++++++

In general I try to avoid posting graphic pictures, for 2 reasons really. Firstly I know from my own experience if something is too graphic I look away. Secondly we live in an era where so many people get offended by everything, and especially the truth, that the only option they feel they have is to get whatever offends them, cancelled.

However sometimes you have to face the reality of what the Holocaust really was, whether you like it or not.

In 1937, the Nazis constructed the Buchenwald concentration camp, 7 km from Weimar, Germany. The motto Jedem das Seine, or “to each his own” or “to each what he deserves”. was placed in the camp’s main entrance gate. The gates were designed by Franz Ehrlich, a former student of the Bauhaus art school, who had been imprisoned in the camp because he was a communist.

Below are just some examples of what the Nazis thought the prisoners of Buchenwald deserved. These photo are from a small photo album. The commentary on the album reads: ‘These photos were captured in 1945 by an American soldier, he says in the German concentration camp Buchenwald. The photos were taken by the Germans themselves, and they show what one person is capable of compared to another.’

More then likely in the forests near Buchenwald

In case you think these were bad, I have actually sanitized the pictures and didn’t post the even more graphic ones. Some of them will haunt me.

This is what well educated and cultured people are capable of doing. Give them a common cause, ‘cancel’ all other opinions and this what happens.


Cruel and humiliating.

Himmler, Seyss-Inquart and Rauter decided to set an example: the first roundup against Jews became a fact. On Saturday afternoon, February 22, 1941, a column of German trucks appeared near Waterlooplein. The area was completely cordoned off. Young Jewish men were ruthlessly herded together on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein,in Amsterdam. Also on the following day many Jewish men were arrested. A total of 427 Jews between the ages of twenty and thirty-five were deported to the Schoorl camp.

It wasn’t enough to just round them up and deport them. The Nazis also felt the need to humiliate at least one of the young men. One German M.P. (Grüne Polizei) is seen to be dealing a blow in a man’s face. In front of his friends and family.

The men captured during the round up were transported in an army truck to the concentration camp Schoorl. The group of 427 people only stayed for four days after which they were deported to Buchenwald, where in June 1941 they were subsequently deported to Mauthausen concentration camp. Only two of this group survived the war.

It wasn’t enough for the Nazis to be cruel, they also had to humiliate.


Account by Hans Levy, of his Father’s Experiences in Buchenwald Concentration Camp

The number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust is estimated at six million. I have often argued that this number is higher. I have no data to back this up, but if you read the testimony of Hans Levy, you can’t help but wonder. Did they include the number of suicides in that number of 6 million, and did they include the number of those who died somewhere else, as a result of the lingering effects of the maltreatment they got?

Below is the testimony of Hans Levy.

“In 1933, at the start of the Nazi régime, my father lost his job working for the Berlin city council. He was a qualified banker and was employed by the council in this capacity.

Apart from the loss of his post, my father encountered relatively few problems right up until 1938. This was mainly because he was married to an Aryan, and the children from this marriage had been baptised and brought up in the Christian faith.

But in 1938 he was suddenly arrested, despite not having committed any criminal offence. Ten days later, we learned that he had been imprisoned in Buchenwald.

I have no cause to doubt my father’s testimony, which he revealed to us under a pledge of secrecy. In Buchenwald, he had to sign a declaration stating that he would tell nobody of his experiences, not even his closest family members.

On arrival, his head was shaved. Then he was made to hand over his personal effects. These were stuffed into a sack and drenched in a chemical fluid which meant the resulting creases could never be removed.

  • 2 –

My father was given the hardest labour in the camp. He was assigned to work in the quarry. Shifts of 10-12 hours were not uncommon. The vast rocks had to be moved at a running pace. Any prisoner caught slacking, because he was simply too exhausted, was reported. This almost certainly led to him being put “over the block”. These punishments were inflicted by a young SS man known as Jonny. His brutality was feared throughout the camp.

The punishments were inflicted as follows: when the prisoners returned to the block after work, tired and near to collapse, a roll call would suddenly be announced. What scant food the men were given had to be left behind as they scrambled to get to the parade ground as quickly as they could. Once there, they were made to stand to attention for up to 18 hours until the camp leader Jonny appeared. The prisoner who was to be punished had to step forward as his name was called, and go and fetch the whipping block on which he was about to be beaten. Three burly SS men would then strap the victim to the block. Jonny never let anyone get away with fewer than 25 lashes.

While two of the SS men beat the victim on the bare backside with sticks, a third would keep count. It often happened that after 20 lashes, this guy would suddenly announce: “I’ve lost count!” and the whole procedure would have to be started again. By the time the prisoner was unstrapped from the block, he was completely broken, even unconscious. Very often the man’s kidneys had been struck so hard that the victim never ever recovered from the damage. This appalling roll call happened three times every week. The food, in short supply and of very poor quality, was dished out in the same bowls the prisoners washed in. Even those inmates with open tuberculosis were using the same bowls for eating and washing.

  • 3 –

Inside Buchenwald camp was an area known as the death zone, a strip of land about 20 metres wide that ran all the way around the electrified perimeter fence. Any prisoner entering the death zone was shot dead either by one of the watch tower guards or an SS man who happened to be nearby—there was no warning. Stepping onto this strip of land was treated as an escape attempt.

One of the guards on duty grabbed my father’s hat and tossed it into the death zone. If my father had gone after it, he would have been immediately shot while trying to escape.

Many desperate prisoners chose to commit suicide by running onto the high-voltage fence. In the morning you could see their charred corpses hanging from the wire.

One of the most repulsive and degrading jobs was that undertaken by the “4711” column. The people chosen for this work were mainly those who had held high office or been important figures in the political and cultural life of the Weimar Republic. It was the job of this column to clean the latrines. Without any equipment. Anyone caught being physically sick would be thrown into the latrine by the SS guard on duty. Many drowned in the excrement.

One of the blocks housed Jehovah’s Witnesses and prominent Communists and Social Democrats. Unfortunately, my father did not know any of their names. For a joke, the SS used to put these people on a chain and make them bark like dogs.

One of the cruellest punishments was what was known as the iron maiden, a torture implement modelled on that used in the Middle Ages. It consisted of an iron cage lined with long sharp nails. Prisoners subjected to this punishment rarely survived the ordeal.

We were only able to secure my father’s release because we (his family) managed to obtain a passage for him to Shanghai.

He was therefore freed earlier than others, but on the condition that he reported every day to his local police station.

My father left Germany on 20 February 1939. He died in Shanghai as a result of the ill-treatment suffered while in prison.”

Hans doesn’t mention this in his testimony but it is clear to me that the reference to 4711 is an additional cruel joke by the Nazis. 4711 is the original Eau de Cologne.



And The Memory Remained

All of those men who liberated the camps throughout Europe never lost the memories of what they witnessed. Below are just some of their accounts.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. Hilbert Margol (pictured above) and his twin brother, Howard. Two Jewish American soldiers were there and documented the tragedy. Hilbert and Howard came across the so-called “death train” at Dachau. This is his recollection.

“So we get orders to pull off to the right side of the road. We all smelled this very distinct odour, a very strong odour. One of our jeep drivers came by and he said, ‘On the other side of those woods, it must be a chemical factory over there.’ Well, Howard heard that and he came over to me, and he said, “I don’t think it’s a chemical factory.” And he said, you know, that odour reminded him of when our mother used to go to the kosher meat market to buy a freshly killed chicken. She would take it home and hold it over the gas flame of the gas stove in the kitchen to burn off the pin feathers. It would burn the skin and some of the fat of the chicken. He said that’s the odour it reminds him of. I said, “Well, why don’t we go over there and see what is over there.” We were curious. The first thing we saw, we saw a line of railroad boxcars. Now we climbed over between two of the railroad cars and on the other side, some of the cars’ sliding doors had been opened by the infantry guys in front of us. That’s who we supported. And on that boxcar plus others on that train was [sic] dead bodies and most of them were in very grotesque positions. And, of course, it was easy to see they were all dead. US Army Infantryman Private Hilbert Margol 42nd Infantry Division 508.784.1945 Testimony 1”

A young African American GI, Leon Bass, entered the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp and saw piles of dead bodies and prisoners so weakened that large numbers of them would die in the days and weeks following the liberation. This encounter was seared into his memory.

Leon Bass entered the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany as part of an intelligence reconnaissance unit. This is his recollection.

“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that was the day that I was to discover what had been going on in Europe under the Nazis because I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people. And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pyjama-type uniforms, their heads clean-shaven, and filled with sores through malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know? It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as what I saw. Reconnaissance Sergeant Leon Bass 183rd Combat Engineer Battalion 508.784.1945”

During the winter of 1944-45, Anthony Acevedo was a 20-year-old Army medic assisting wounded soldiers fighting against Nazi forces in World War II. The war in Europe was coming to an end, but for Mr Acevedo, the horror was just beginning.

On April 9, 1945, German camp guards forcibly evacuated US Army medic Anthony Acevedo and other prisoners of war in the Berga concentration camp. After marching for 15 days, Acevedo and his fellow
prisoners were liberated by the 11th Armored Division. This is his recollection.

“So, we heard that tanks approaching, and we don’t—we didn’t know whether they were Americans, or French, or English, whatever. Or Russians. But the Germans started to feel the—the heat, and so they wanted us to follow them. And so they push—they pulled the—the rifles against us, and
pointed at us, and says, w-we—either we go, or—with them, or they’ll shoot us. That’s what they wanted to do.

So, as I yelled back at them, and the other medic, I mean, we’re medics, and we’re taking care of these men, and they’re dying. One just died—or two just died just a—a while ago. So, how can we go, and—they can’t walk anymore.
So, before you knew it, they too escaped, and the guards turn in our—gave us our rifles. And he says, we’ll stay with you. And we started to hear the rumbling getting closer, and then—we—we all started to run towards the highway, and when we got to the highway, the tanks were the 11th armoured division, liberating us.”




The Horrors of Subcamp Leipzig-Thekla


The concentration camp subcamp Leipzig-Thekla in Leipzig was a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp it was set up at the beginning of March 1943 .It was liberated on 19 April 1945. 1450 male prisoners had been in the camp. The prisoners had to do forced labor at Erla Maschinenwerk GmbH for the Luftwaffe.

By the time the Leipzig-Thekla satellite camp was closed, at least 109 prisoners had died due to the inhumane working conditions, lack of food, illnesses, mistreatment by the camp SS and Allied bombing. Inmates who were ill or unable to work were transferred back to Buchenwald. By the beginning of April 1945, around 2,000 prisoners had arrived in evacuation transports from the dissolved Groß-Rosen concentration camp and its Gassen subcamp in the Leipzig-Thekla subcamp.

On April 18, 1945, at least 80 of the 304 prisoners remaining in the Theklaer Straße/Heiterblickstraße camp, who were sick and unable to walk, fell victim to the Abtnaundorf massacre carried out by the Gestapo , members of the SS and Volkssturm men .

Julius Haberman was one of the men who liberated the camp on April 19,1945. Julius and his unit discovered Leipzig-Thekla, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, which, at its height, held approximately 1,400 prisoners. When the men of the 69th reached the camp, there were fewer than 100 survivors.

This is some of his eye witness account.

As a Jewish soldier, he expressed how personal the liberation was for him. “I knew that these prisoners were Jews that were on the other side of the fence. I really couldn’t speak to them much, but I could say a few words because I knew Yiddish and was able to speak a little bit and be an interpreter. Mounds of bodies were on the other side of the camp there…it was difficult.”




Simon Blitz-Murdered Doctor

I have long given up on trying to understand the logic behind some of the Nazis actions. For example the mass murder of Doctors, the Nazis themselves could have used them for their own medical needs.

Simon Blitz was born on June 28, 1907 in the Watergraafsmeer( The Watergraafsmeer is a polder in the Netherlands. It was reclaimed in 1629} hs parents were Josephus Blitz (1880 -1938) and Betsij van Wezel (1876-1947). He had 3 brothers and 2 sisters: Abraham, Ruben and Benjamin, Elisabeth and Cato. He studied medicine in Amsterdam and sat his medical final exams on April 29, 1936. Dr. Simon Blitz lived and practiced at 188 Zuider Amstellaan in Amsterdam.

He married Klara Elisabeth Erwteman in Amsterdam in October 1937. Together they had a child who was born in 1939. In December 1940 Simon and Klara divorced.

At least seventeen Jewish doctors were arrested, deported and sometimes even murdered by the Nazis during the first years of occupation, until July 1942.

On February 22, 1941, Simon Blitz was arrested during a raid in Amsterdam. Between 23 and 27, he was imprisoned in Camp Schoorl.Between February 27, 1941 and February 28, Simon was transported from Camp Schoorl to Buchenwald. There were 409 in total on that transport

Simon Blitz was murdered on May 12, 1941 in Buchenwald. He was was 33 years old. His wife and child survived the war.

Ann approximate 137 Jewish Doctors were either killed or murdered during World War 2. The hate of the Nazis had such a far reaching impact, that undoubtedly would also have impacted themselves.




Testimonies on Ohrdruf Concentration camp.

I am not a great believer in posting graphic images, but when it comes to the Holocaust there really is not always a way around it.

The picture above was taken in Ohrdruf shortly after it was liberated, it is actually one of the least graphic pictures.

The Ohrdruf camp was a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and the first Nazi camp liberated by US troops.

The camp was liberated on April 4, 1945, by the 4th Armored Division, led by Brigadier General Joseph F. H. Cutrona, and the 89th Infantry Division. It was the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army. There is a scene in ‘the Band of Brothers’ where they liberate a camp, the name isn’t mentioned but I believe it to be Ohrdruf.

One of the 4th Armored Division soldiers, David Cohen, said: “We walked into a shed and the bodies were piled up like wood. There are no words to describe it. The smell was overpowering and unforgettable.”

The horrific nature of what the 4th Armored Division had discovered led General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, to visit the camp on April 12, with Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. After his visit, Eisenhower cabled General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, describing his trip to Ohrdruf:

“The most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp 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.'”

Ohrdruf had also made a powerful impression on battle hardened Patton, who described it as “one of the most appalling sights that I have ever seen.” He recounted in his diary that:

“In a shed … was a pile of about 40 completely naked human bodies in the last stages of emaciation. These bodies were lightly sprinkled with lime, not for the purposes of destroying them, but for the purpose of removing the stench.

When the shed was full—I presume its capacity to be about 200, the bodies were taken to a pit a mile from the camp where they were buried. The inmates claimed that 3,000 men, who had been either shot in the head or who had died of starvation, had been so buried since the 1st of January.

When we began to approach with our troops, the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crime. Therefore, they had some of the slaves exhume the bodies and place them on a mammoth griddle composed of 60-centimeter railway tracks laid on brick foundations. They poured pitch on the bodies and then built a fire of pinewood and coal under them. They were not very successful in their operations because there was a pile of human bones, skulls, charred torsos on or under the griddle which must have accounted for many hundreds.”

John W. Becket was another soldier who entered Ohrdruf that day. On the 17th of April he documented his experiences and impressions.

“As we came along our way we saw a sign pointing to ‘OHRDRUF,’ 15 kilometers from here, that is where the Germans had a concentration camp. What we saw was enough and at that it was pretty well cleaned up.”

“… an MP captain was questioning one of the liberated prisoners. He was Polish, spoke German, & as he related it was translated to us by the captain.” The prisoner showed them places where prisoners were beaten, tortured, and executed. Beckett wrote, “As the Polish prisoner talked, tears seemed to come to his eyes but he fought them down.”

“All such atrocities that were known to savages & Roman times & here it exists today in 1945, how is it possible, how can a man treat another as such. The question perhaps can’t be answered and I pray they will receive their just rewards, both here & in the life to come. Practically the whole battery went to see it & Patton wanted as many of his men that could go to see it & know that it is real & not propaganda. Its real, all too grotesquely real.”

Bruce Nickols was yet another soldier who recalled on what he saw that day. In 1998 he wrote a report on it.

“Fifty years have passed since this day but I recall my first impression of the camp called Ohrdruf which I found later was associated administratively with the camp called Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was named after the town of the same name, apparently locally famous for its history of being the place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of his works..

April 4, 1945
The date was April 4, 1945 and I was on a patrol as a member of the I &R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of 354th Infantry Regiment, of the 89th Infantry Division, 3rd Army U.S.A.

As I recall it was a beautiful spring morning marred by the fact that we were under mortar attack. I remember very well my surprise when I observed Brigadier General Robertson strolling upright down the road. He was an elderly avunular gentleman who thought nonchalance under fire characterized the general officer’s role model.

I was impressed but remained prone in the drainage ditch until the atttack ceased. Shortly thereafter, an acquaintance let it be known that a camp had been liberated further up the hill.

Fifty years have passed since this day but I recall my first impression of the camp called Ohrdruf which I found later was associated administratively with the camp called Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was named after the town of the same name, apparently locally famous for its history of being the place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of his works.

From the outside, the camp was unremarkable. It was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence and had a wooden sign which read, “Arbeit Macht Frei.” The swinging gate was open, and a young soldier, probably an SS guard, lay dead diagonally across the entrance. The camp was located inthe forest and was surrounded by a thick grove of pine and other conifers. The inside of the camp was composed of a large 100 yards square central area which was surrounded by one story barracks painted green which appeared to house 60-100 inmates.

As we stepped into the compound one was greeted by an overpowering odor of quick-lime, dirty clothing, feces, and urine. Laying in the center of the square were 60-70 dead prisoners clad in striped clothing and in disarray. They had reportedly been machine gunned the day before because they were too weak to march to another camp. The idea was for the SS and the prisoners to avoid the approaching U.S. Army and the Russians.

Adjacent to the”parade ground” was a small shed which was open on one side. Inside,were bodies stacked in alternate directions as one would stack cord wood, and each layer was covered with a sprinkling of quick-lime. I did not see him, but someone told me that there had been a body of a dead American aviator in the shed. This place reportedly had been used for punishment, and the inmates were beaten on their back and heads with a shovel. My understanding is that all died following this abuse.

I visited some of the surrounding barracks and found live inmates who had hidden during the massacre. They were astounded and appeared to be struggling to understand what was happening. Some were in their 5 tier bunks and somewhere wandering about.

This was the first camp to be “liberated” by the Allied armies in Germany. Ohrdruf was visited by Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley and there are photographs of them observing the bodies of the machine gunned inmates. According to Eisenhower, Patton had refused to visit the punishment shed as he feared he would become ill. He did vomit at a later time.

Further into the camp was evidence of an attempt to exhume and burn large numbers of bodies. There was a gallows, although I really cannot remember whether I saw it or not. I don’t remember leaving the camp. I recall being numb after seeing the camp. I had just turned 20 years old and I had read the biographical “Out of the Night.” It was a pale and inadequate picture of a German concentration camp by a refugee German author.

I recall becoming very upset when we got back to our quarters, but the whole experience was far beyond my understanding. I wrote a letter to my parents describing the experience which was read at a local gathering of business men. It was widely disbelieved.

Bruce Nickols”






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