Eisenhower’s letter to George C. Marshall.

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On April 4, 1945 Ohrdruf was the first concentration camp to be liberated by the US Army. Eight days later on April 12th, the camp was visited by Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower,  George S. Patton and Omar Bradley.

They were shocked by what they witnessed there , After his visit Eisenhower send a writing to General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, reporting on what he had seen.

“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.

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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.’

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Unfortunately we have arrived at a period in history where the Holocaust is more and more denied and described as propaganda. And many Social media outlets are facilitating it by:

  1. Banning or deleting posts that depict the horrors, at best they give a warning , at worst they block and/or remove the accounts.
  2. They do not stop posts that are clearly denying the Holocaust, although this is criminal offence in many countries.

We are risking all these deaths to have been in vain because the lies are more believed then the truth, no matter how convincing and compelling this truth is.

Capture

 

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Sources

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/liberation-of-ohrdruf

https://newspapers.ushmm.org/events/eisenhower-asks-congress-and-press-to-witness-nazi-horrors

 

This building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk.

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The title is a line from a report by Edward R. Murrow, a CBS radio news reporter.He  reported largely from Europe during World War II, and was the first reporter on scene following the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp The report was broadcast on  Sunday, April 15, 1945, in Studio B-4 of the BBC, only a few days after the liberation.

I could include pictures of what the allied troops encountered in April 1945. Pictures of piles of corpses or emaciated inmates, and there are plenty. But I won’t do that. I have decided to tell the story with some of the excerpts from the report. When you initially read it then probably just like me, you won’t be that shocked,maybe a bit disturbed but not shocked.

This is probably because the horrors written down, don’t trigger a response. However when you read it again and leave the words sink in, the horrors become so clear and they will stick with you more so then any picture could do.

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Report from Edward R. Murrow

“There surged around me an evil-smelling stink, men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death already had marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked out over the mass of men to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were ploughing.

I asked to see one of the barracks. It happened to be occupied by Czechoslovaks. When I entered, men crowded around, tried to lift me to their shoulders. They were too weak. Many of them could not get out of bed. I was told that this building had once stabled 80 horses. There were 1,200 men in it, five to a bunk. The stink was beyond all description.

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We went to the hospital. It was full. The doctor told me that 200 had died the day before. I asked the cause of death. He shrugged and said: ‘tuberculosis, starvation, fatigue and there are many who have no desire to live. It is very difficult’ He pulled back the blanket from a man’s feet to show me how swollen they were. The man was dead. Most of the patients could not move.

In another part of the camp they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only 6 years old. One rolled up his sleeves, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm. B-6030, it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die. An elderly man standing beside me said: “The children- enemies of the state!” I could see their ribs through their thin shirts.

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They called the doctor. We inspected his records. There were only names in the little black book, nothing more. Nothing about who these men were, what they had done, or hoped. Behind the names of those who had died, there was a cross. I counted them. They totaled 242. 242 out of 1,200, in one month.

As we walked out into the courtyard, a man fell dead. Two others, they must have been over 60, were crawling toward the latrine. I saw it, but will not describe it.”

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Unlike Auschwitz or other camps Buchenwald’s gate did not say “Arbeit macht Frei” but ” Jedem das Seine” which translates to “to each his own” or “to each what he deserves”. No one in Buchenwald got what they deserved. No one deserves to be treated as a subhuman. Nor did they deserve to be murdered for being Jewish,Communist or just critical of the Nazi regime.

 

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Sources

Scrapbook pages

Jewish Virtual Library

Berkley Library

 

 

The Children of Castle Hoensbroek

Kinderen Hoesnbroek

I came across the above picture a few years ago and the information I got with it is that the children in the picture were orphans, staying with the nuns in Castle Hoensbroek, in Limburg .the south east of the Netherlands

However all the children had been placed under guardianship. They originally came from a town in North-Holland called Velsen where they had been students of a boarding school ,run by Nuns.

In October 1942 the German occupiers had ordered the boarding school to be evacuated, for it was going to be demolished. The Germans were going to build a 5 km long defense line and the boarding school was in the way.

Frantically the nuns looked for an alternative accommodation. They were offered the castle Hoensbroek in December 1942. They moved in on December 23 just in time for the Christmas celebrations. The distance between Velsen and Hoensbroek is about 200km. For the children that must have felt like moving to the other side of the world.

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The children lived a relatively undisturbed live in the castle. Several times it had been declared unsuitable for the Germany army. However a few days before liberation there were a few nervous moments.

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Some SS men on leave. had stayed in the adjacent farm and had been throwing hand grenades in the canals surrounding the castle, just for fun. They had also been walking around naked.

On September 12, 1944 a highly placed SS officer had visited the castle for inspection, he was told there was no room. His reply was not too worry about that, the SS would make some room, while he was looking around at the yard where the children were playing at  the time.But he left.

The following day another highly placed SS officer,with a limp, came to the castle but he too left.

On September 17, 1944 Hoensbroek was liberated by the allied forces. As a part of the celebrations the children were dressed up in the traditional clothing of the Velsen-Volendam region. The pictures taken were send to the US to show the people there that the troops had arrived in the Netherlands.

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The Dachau Reprisals

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After the liberation of Dachau on the 29th of April 1945 a number of SS guards were tortured and executed by US troops,without a trial.

Many people refer to this as a war crime and technically it was, but the horrors these troops had witnessed was beyond imagination, The brutality was unprecedented. To be honest if I had been in there shoes I probably would have done the same.

Eyewitness: Doctor David Wilsey, an anesthesiologist, was a US Army captain when he took part in the liberation of Dachau – then saw SS guards being killed by GIs as the horrors of the camp unfolded..David W

He wrote to wife Emily that he did not have a ‘single disturbed emotion’ because he saw the Nazis as ‘SS Beasts’ that deserved to be slaughtered.

GIs tortured them by making them stand for hours in Heil Hitler salutes and pouring iced water over their naked backs before they were shot dead.

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This was a picture taken by Capt Wilsey in his letters to his wife, Emily. On the back he wrote: ‘just a sample of what we saw & lived for days after we hit Dachau. Piles like this all over!bodiesOn  On the back of the picture above, Capt Wiley wrote of the corpses: ‘This, madam (and all the world) is just a sample of what we saw and lived for days after we hit Dachau. Some in this pile are not quite dead. Nice?’

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Upon moving deeper into the complex, and the prisoner area itself, more bodies were found. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp’s capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium, and a gas chamber “The stench of death was overpowering.

Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, the Seventh Army’s Assistant Inspector General, was subsequently ordered to investigate after witnesses came forward testifying about the killings. He issued a report on June 8, 1945, called the “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau” and also known as “the I.G. Report”. In 1991, an archived copy was found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and was made public.

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Female prisoners at Dachau wave to their liberators

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Sources

Mail Online

USHMM

Dachau

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Dachau is a small picturesque town in in Upper Bavaria not too far away from Munich, but despite its pretty  and even fairy tale like appearance, it will be forever associated with death and destruction.

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The Dachau concentration camp was opened on March 22 1933. It was the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Heinrich Himmler, as police president of Munich, officially described the camp as “the first concentration camp for political prisoners.

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Political prisoners arrived by truck in early days of the Dachau Concentration camp.

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Dachau originally held Communists, leading Socialists and other “enemies of the state” in 1933, but over time the Nazis began to send German Jews to the camp.

Prisoners were divided into categories. At first, they were classified by the nature of the crime for which they were accused, but eventually were classified by the specific authority-type under whose command a person was sent to camp.Political prisoners who had been arrested by the Gestapo wore a red badge, “professional” criminals sent by the Criminal Courts wore a green badge, Cri-Po prisoners arrested by the criminal police wore a brown badge, “work-shy and asocial” people sent by the welfare authorities or the Gestapo wore a black badge, Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested by the Gestapo wore a violet badge, homosexuals sent by the criminal courts wore a pink badge, emigrants arrested by the Gestapo wore a blue badge, “race polluters” arrested by the criminal court or Gestapo wore badges with a black outline, second-termers arrested by the Gestapo wore a bar matching the color of their badge, “idiots” wore a white armband with the label Blöd (Stupid), and Jews, whose incarceration in the Dachau concentration camp dramatically increased after Kristallnacht, wore a yellow badge, combined with another color.

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The pictures below are from the camp and some of them are graphic, I don’t like showing graphic images but sometimes it is necessary.

Bodies in the Dachau death train

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The photograph below shows six of the SS men on the staff at Dachau in 1934. Theodor Eicke, who became the second Commandant at Dachau in 1933 is the second man from the left in the back row.

 

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American soldiers inspect the remains of concentration camp victims after the liberation of Dachau, a National Socialist concentration camp, April 29, 1945.

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Befreiung des Konzentrationslagers Dachau im April 1945

SS men confer with General Henning Linden during the capture of the Dachau concentration camp. Pictured from left to right: SS aide, camp leader Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker (mostly hidden by the aide), Paul M. G. Lévy, a Belgian journalist (man with helmet looking to his left), Dr. Victor Maurer (back), Gen. Henning Linden (man with helmet, looking to his right) and some U.S. soldiers.

 

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Something that has been debated and disputed after the liberation of Dachau is the execution of the SS guards,after surrender, by the US troops. By many it is seen as a war crime, I don’t subscribe to that point of view, although I do not condone it either, I can fully understand why they did it. They had just seen the worst atrocity and depravity they had ever witnessed, not surprisingly they felt the urge to bring those responsible to a swift justice.

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Closeup of the bodies of SS personnel lying at the base of the tower from which American soldiers had initially come under attack by a German machine gun.

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The joy of liberation

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

USHMM

Bundesarchiv

 

Entertaining the Troops.

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After months of fighting fierce battles this must have been the most adorable way ever how the US troops were entertained.

Dutch children entertain U.S. soldiers. U.S. soldiers taken for a morning walk through the grounds of moated Hoensbroek Castle in Holland some of the 145 young Dutch children living there under the care of Roman Catholic nuns. The children, who are mostly around three years old, express their appreciation for the kindness of American soldiers stationed in the area by entertaining them with games and dances in national costume.

This was shortly after the liberation of Hoensbroek in September 1944.

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Liberation of Geleen-Sept 18 1944-When no shot was fired.

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On September 18,1944 my hometown Geleen was liberated. Geleen is a town in the south east of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg situated in the most narrow part of the Province in between Belgium and Germany.

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The liberation actually happened by chance. The Germans did hide behind several objects, ready to take on the approaching American troops.

They did hide quite well ,therefore a friar from the nearby monastery ventured outside assuming the Germans had fled the scene. He then brought out a big orange banner to celebrate, which was the signal for the neighbours to follow suit and hang out the Dutch flag and the national colors.

When the Germans saw this they assumed that the Americans had already arrived and were on their heels, so they frantically fled although not one of the allied troops had actually been seen yet.

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Below are just some impressions of that day. The liberation day where no shot was fired.

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Below an image of Vincent DiPaquale of the 116th Infantry Regiment,born in Buffalo New York. He was one of the liberators.

Vincent DiPaquale

 

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When liberation came too late

The_Liberation_of_Bergen-belsen_Concentration_Camp,_April_1945_BU4195For many the joy of being freed from the brutal Nazi regime was short lived. After the concentration camps were liberated the deaths didn’t stop straight away.

British forces liberated concentration camps in northern Germany, including Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen. They entered the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, near Celle, in mid-April 1945. Some 60,000 prisoners, most in critical condition because of a typhus epidemic, were found alive. More than 10,000 of them died from the effects of malnutrition or disease within a few weeks of liberation.

Initially lacking sufficient manpower, the British allowed the Hungarians to remain in charge and only commandant Kramer was arrested.

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Some British Soldiers pushed cigarettes and sweets through the wire to the inmates who fell on them so ferociously that some were left dead on the ground, torn to pieces in the sordid scramble. The Hungarian Wehrmacht soldiers, who had been assigned to guard the camp during the transition, shot into the mob and killed numerous people.

On April 20, four German fighter planes attacked the camp, damaging the water supply and killing three British medical orderlies.

Robert Desnos (French:  4 July 1900 – 8 June 1945), was a French surrealist poet who played a key role in the Surrealist movement of his day.

During World War II, Desnos was an active member of the French Resistance network Réseau AGIR, under the direction of Michel Hollard, often publishing under pseudonyms. For Réseau Agir, Desnos provided information collected during his job at the journal Aujourd’hui and made false identity papers he was arrested by the Gestapo on 22 February 1944.

He was first deported to the German concentration camps of Auschwitz in occupied Poland, then Buchenwald, Flossenburg in Germany and finally to Terezín (Theresienstadt) in occupied Czechoslovakia in 1945.

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Desnos died in “Malá pevnost”, which was an inner part of Terezín used only for political prisoners, from typhoid, a month after the camp’s liberation

Many others died due to Refeeding syndrome a syndrome consisting of metabolic disturbances that occur as a result of re-institution of nutrition to patients who are starved, severely malnourished or metabolically stressed due to severe illness.This syndrome is a result of the human body changing fuel sources during starvation and can be fatal.

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After liberation, many Jewish survivors feared to return to their former homes because of the antisemitism (hatred of Jews) that persisted in parts of Europe and the trauma they had suffered. Some who returned home feared for their lives. In postwar Poland, for example, there were a number of pogroms (violent anti-Jewish riots). The largest of these occurred in the town of Kielce in 1946 when Polish rioters killed at least 42 Jews and beat many others.

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The liberation of Mauthausen Concentration camp

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The Mauthausen concentration camp was established shortly after the German annexation of Austria (1938). Prisoners in the camp were forced to perform labor in a nearby stone quarry and, later, to construct subterranean tunnels for rocket-assembly factories. US forces liberated the camp in May 1945.

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On 5 May 1945 the camp at Mauthausen was approached by a squad of US Army Soldiers of the 41st Reconnaissance Squadron of the US 11th Armored Division, 3rd US Army. The reconnaissance squad was led by Staff Sergeant Albert J. Kosiek. His troop disarmed the policemen and left the camp.

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By the time of its liberation, most of the SS-men of Mauthausen had already fled; around 30 who were remained were killed by the prisoners,and a similar number were killed in Gusen II. By 6 May all the remaining subcamps of the Mauthausen-Gusen camp complex, with the exception of the two camps in the Loibl Pass, were also liberated by American forces.

(Italian survivors, after the camp’s liberation)

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Among the inmates liberated from the camp was Lieutenant Jack Taylor, an officer of the Office of Strategic Services. He had managed to survive with the help of several prisoners and was later a key witness at the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials carried out by the Dachau International Military.

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This footage, filmed by US cameramen, shows scenes in the camp, American care of the liberated prisoners, and Austrian civilians loading bodies of victims onto carts for burial.

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Temporary identity papers produced for Mauthausen detainee after camp liberation

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The liberation of the Netherlands

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On 4 May 1945 at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands.

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On 08:00 AM on the 5th of May 1945 the Netherlands is officially liberated, although the Southern provinces had already been liberated by September 1944.

Below are photographs of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Liberation of Geleen and Sittard in the south eastern province of Limburg on the 18th and 19th September 1944.

 

Liberation of Hoensbroek also in Limburg on the 17th of October 1944.The kids were orphans being cared for by the Nuns near castle Hoensbroek, The kids dressed up for the occasion.

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The liberation of Ermelo

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An ecstatic crowd in Utrecht welcomes the Canadian liberators

An ecstatic crowd in Utrecht welcomes the Canadian liberators

Groningen

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Holten-Rijssen April_1945

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Some tender medical care

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Ontarios parade in Holland to celebrate Dutch liberation, 1945

Ontarios parade in Holland to celebrate Dutch liberation, 1945

Citizens of Utrecht celebrate newfound freedom on May 5

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World War II: Liberation of the Netherlands–South of the Rhine (September-December 1944)

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Liberation Parade in Witteveen, Netherlands.

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Some final personal words.

My young friend, you sacrificed your live selflessly for my freedom.

We never met but yet your act of valour has changed my life.

My young friend, I thank you for it is because of you I am here.

Often I ponder why you did what you did so that I can thrive.

 

From afar you came to deliver us from evil.

And evil you witnessed all around you.

Leaving a safe place just to be thrown into upheaval.

To see death, destruction and chaos too.

 

You don’t know it but my life you did change.

For if it wasn’t for you I may never have been conceived.

You gave up your life for a land that wasn’t yours but was strange.

Freedom was given by you and by me is thankfully received.

 

Alas there are those who do not realize the debt we owe to you.

They talk about leaving bygones be bygones and forget those who died.

My young friend not me, never will I forsake the memory of you.

The promise I make to you is that your bravery will be the source of my pride.

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