Louis Haefliger-Account of Liberating Mauthasen During the following days I talked with Ziereis about the exact situation prevailing in the camp: lack of bread, clothing, shoes and a dreadful shortage of linens. The camp at Mauthausen was overcrowded, and the camps of Gusen I and II filled beyond human limits. There were as many as five sick men to a narrow camp bed. There were sixty thousand human beings - men, women and children. Ziereis no longer knew where to turn...He speeded up the work of annihilation as much as he could. The Krematorium chimney smoked day and night. The sanitary conditions were at the lowest imaginable level. They were dying of hunger. Ziereis made believe that he was touched by this himself. He put on a self-pitying air, this man with whom I had to take my meals, this monster who once had a truck full of cadavers driven in front of his wife's window, to boast about his work. [...] At the stroke of noon, May 5, 1945, all the SS had been disarmed, as well as the Volksstrum militia and the reinforcements of Vienna firemen. Chaos prevailed in the camp. The prisoners invaded the kitchens and pillaged the Kommandantur. The men rigged themselves out in several pairs of pants and fought over the tins of food. There was an unimaginable turbulence. Suddenly freed, these prisoners behaved like a horde of savages. It took some time to get the camp to calm down a bit. I thought about my own belongings in my room. Everything had disappeared: trunk, clothing, linens. Orv Iverson-Seeing Buchenwald Camp for the First Time Now spring was here, but it was not a place to enjoy the joys associated with spring. In fact much of Germany was in ruins. Germans were scrounging in our GI garbage cans for some leftover morsel of food. Trucks were hauling German soldiers to the rear. I can remember one truck packed with German soldiers standing elbow to elbow. The driver was lost and asked for directions to the rear. I believe it was the last of April when we arrived in Weimar and set up the radio station near the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. At first opportunity we paid a visit to the camp. I guess by now I should have been hardened to death and suffering. Well, what we saw and smelled at this concentration camp was more than what anyone could have imagined. More than anything, this convinced me how important our mission had been, I had heard about concentration camps, but I believed much of the information was embellished propaganda. As we entered the gate at the camp we found out from one of the German speaking GIs that the saying above the gate said, "Those who enter these gates, pass out as smoke". The odor was over whelming. It sort of smelled like the outhouse on our farm, but much worse. Starved corpses were stacked like cordwood in front of the furnace buildings, where the bodies were cremated and the heat was used to heat the 55 barracks. The bone ashes were piled outside the furnace room and was used for fertilizer. Some of the living prisoners were barely able to walk, some were in the hospital, stacked like loaves of bread in wooden shelves, no mattresses, and lying in their own excretion. In the latrine there was a six foot trench where some of prisoners were lying, apparently so weak they couldn't keep from falling into the trench. While talking to an English speaking prisoner, I noticed a commotion behind us. I asked about it and he told me one of the SS guards had committed suicide. When I looked at the SS guard I noticed his throat had been cut from ear to ear and there was no knife nearby. Downstairs under the furnace room there was a set-up for torture methods. The prisoners were hung by their thumbs and beaten. The deep scratches showed on the walls where they were attached by their thumbs. Also there was a "hospital" where "experiments" were done on the prisoners. In sort of a showcase was displayed a lamp with a lampshade made from the skin off the breast of a prisoner. After a few days citizens from the nearby areas were brought in to be forced to view the campsite. Many shed tears, some were overcome emotionally, and some stared in cold silence. Sargeant Ragine Farris-Liberating Nordhausen "For days and weeks, even months afterwards, the word Nordhausen brought us a mixed response of emotions. We were battle-tired and combat-wise medics, and we thought there was nothing left in the books we didn't know. Yet in a short period of two days I and many others of the Division saw and lived a story we shall never forget. The strongly Nazified town of Nordhausen fell before air-armor and night attack on 11 April. Our S-2, Captain Johnson, brought the news that we were needed to evacuate patients from a concentration camp in one of the large factory areas of the city. Lying among the multitudes of dead were reported to be a few living 'beings', and with quick medical attention some might be saved. Colonel Taggart called into action, early 12 April, the litter bearers and medical technicians as well as any other men available from duties with our own wounded. In a caravan of trucks we rushed into a job which proved unbelievable to an American; a job distasteful and sobering; one created by the fanatical inhuman Nazi machine. We found out the full meaning of the words 'Concentration Camp.' Bombs had ground flesh and bones into the cement floor. Rows upon rows of skin-covered skeletons met our eyes. Men lay as they starved, discolored, and lying in indescribable human filth. Their striped coats and prison numbers hung to their frames as a last token of those who enslaved and killed them. In this large motor shop there were no living beings; only the distorted dead. We went to the stairs and under the casing were neatly piled about seventy-five bodies, a sight I could never erase from memories. Dying on the second floor were, upon later count, about twenty-five men or half-men. Some of these, lying in double-decked wooden bedsteads, were grotesquely still, yet hanging tenaciously to life's breath. They were still alive. We saw, at a quick survey, this was to be as big a medical job as we had been called upon to do. Speed would save lives, so we fell into a day of evacuation, hospitalization, and feeding, unparalleled to any day of combat. It became evident almost immediately that our few medics could not evacuate hundreds of patients, set up improvised hospital wards, and feed many mouths without help. So under the leadership of Colonel Jones and Chaplain Steinbeck, who spoke German, we rounded up German civilians on the streets of this Nazi city as we saw them. The order was, "You will work." In this manner, about one hundred German litter bearers were gathered up and rushed to the scene. I was accosted by a less emaciated prisoner who asked if anyone spoke French. When I answered, he brightened and related that a group of Frenchmen had established a small colony in the large cellar of another building, and would I please bring aid to them. This was my signal to get into gear, and off across bomb-cratered grounds we picked our way to this particular building. There were many bodies strewn about. One girl in particular I noticed; I would say she was about seventeen years old. She lay there where she had fallen, gangrened and naked. In my own thoughts I choked up - couldn't quite understand how and why war could do these things. But my job crowded out any serious impressions at the moment. Only later I thought of what I had seen. Now we approached the cellar stairs leading to the French group. I heard 'monsieur' very softly, and at my feet, lying as if dead, was a cadaverous man; he raised up and said, in beautiful Parisian French, that if he were stronger he would honor me by the traditional kiss on either cheek. I learned that he was a captain from France's famous Saint Cyr Military Academy and had received particularly sadistic attention from the SS Troopers. He looked to be seventy- five but was only forty-five. His last step had taken him to the edge of the stairs. He had gone as far as possible to escape the fury of war when the Americans fought into Nordhausen. He lay dust-covered, where he had nearly been crushed by falling walls - yet he displayed remarkable discipline and composure. With care, he was lifted upon a litter and taken to our waiting ambulances. I often wonder if he made it back to life, and if he had ever been able to tell his story. We went downstairs into a filth indescribable, accompanied by a horrible dead-rot stench. There in beds of crude wood I saw men too weak to move dead comrades from their side. One hunched-down French boy was huddled up against a dead comrade, as if to keep warm, having no concept that the friend had been dead two or three days and unable to move his own limbs. There were others, in dark cellar rooms, lying in disease and filth, being eaten away by diarrhea and malnutrition. It was like stepping into the Dark Ages to walk into one of these cellar-cells and seek out the living; like walking into a world apart and returning to bring these shadow-men into the environment of a clean American ambulance. In one bomb crater lay about twenty bodies. We pulled three or four feebly struggling living ones from the bottom of the pile; they had been struggling for five or six days to get out but the weight of the other bodies piled on them had been too much for their starved, emaciated frames. We saw those on a bank who had been cut down by machine guns in trying to escape the fury of the guards. I saw one man feebly stagger to attention and salute us as tears slowly trickled down his cheeks. Too weak to walk, this man was genuinely moved to pay tribute to those who were helping him - showing him the first kind act in years. A few men were able to walk on their swollen, bulging feet; they had no shoes and they were unbelievably dirty. There were lash marks on many of their scantily covered backs - definite proof of beatings and floggings by their inhuman guards. One Parisian business told me he had been kicked and beaten repeatedly. He was comparatively healthy, as he had been in camp only three months. He told me that many of the 3,000 dead in the camp had been worked, beaten and forced at top speed until they could work on longer, after which they were starved off or killed outright." Lt. Col. Felix Sparks on the Liberation of Dachau At 0730 on the morning of April 29th, the task force had resumed the attack with companies L and K and the tank battalion as the assault force. The attack zone assigned to company L was through the city of Dachau, but did not include the concentration camp, a short distance outside of the city. Company I was designated as the reserve unit, with the mission of mopping up any resistance bypassed by the assault forces. Shortly after the attack began, I received a radio message from the Regimental Commander ordering me to proceed immediately to take the Dachau concentration camp. The order also stated: "Upon capture, post an airtight guard and allow no one to enter or leave." As the main gate to the camp was closed and locked, we scaled the brick wall surrounding the camp. As I climbed over the wall following the advancing soldiers, I heard rifle fire to my right front. The lead elements of the company had reached the confinement area and were disposing of the SS troops manning the guard towers, along with a number of vicious guard dogs. By the time I neared the confinement area, the brief battle was almost over. After I entered the camp over the wall, I was not able to see the confinement area, and had no idea where it was. My vision was obscured by the many buildings and barracks which were outside the confinement area. The confinement area itself occupied only a small portion of the total camp area. As I went further into the camp, I saw some men from company I collecting German prisoners. Next to the camp hospital, there was a L-shaped masonry wall, about eight feet high, which had been used as a coal bin. The ground was covered with coal dust, and a narrow gage railroad track, laid on top of the ground, lead into the area. The prisoners were being collected in the semi-enclosed area. As I watched about fifty German troops were brought in from various directions. A machine gun squad from company I was guarding the prisoners. After watching for a few minutes, I started for the confinement area. After I had walked away for a short distance, I hear the machine gun guarding the prisoners open fire. I immediately ran back to the gun and kicked the gunner off the gun with my boot. I then grabbed him by the collar and said: "what the hell are you doing?" He was a young private about 19 years old and was crying hysterically. His reply to me was: "Colonel, they were trying to get away." I doubt that they were, but in any event he killed about twelve of the prisoners and wounded several more. I placed a non-com on the gun, and headed toward the confinement area. It was the forgoing incident which has given rise to wild claims in various publications that most or all of the German prisoners captured at Dachau were executed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure. The regimental records for that date indicate that over a thousand German prisoners were brought to the regimental collecting point. Since my task force was leading the regimental attack, almost all the prisoners were taken by the task force, including several hundred from Dachau. During the early period of our entry into the camp, a number of company I men all battle hardened veterans, became extremely distraught. Some cried, while others raged. Some thirty minutes passed before I could restore order and discipline. During that time, the over thirty thousand camp prisoners still alive began to grasp the significance of the events taking place. They streamed from their crowded barracks by the hundreds and were soon pressing at the confining barbed wire fence. They began to shout in unison, which soon became a chilling roar. At the same time several bodies were being tossed about and torn apart by hundreds of hands. I was told later that those being killed at the time were "informers." After about ten minutes of screaming and shouting, the prisoners quieted down. At that point, a man came forward at the gate and identified himself as an American soldier. We immediately let him out. He turned out to be Major Rene Guiraud of our OSS. He informed me that he had been captured earlier while on an intelligence mission and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never carried out. Within about an hour of our entry, events were under control. Guard posts were set up, and communications were established with the inmates. We informed them that we could not release them immediately but that food and medical assistance would arrive soon. The dead, numbering about nine thousand, were later buried with the forced assistance of the good citizens of the city of Dachau. On the morning of April 30, our first battalion resumed the attack towards Munich. At this point, I should point out that Seventh Army Headquarters took over the actual camp administration on the day following the liberation. The camp occupation by combat troops after that time was solely for security purposes. On the morning of April 30, several trucks arrived from Seventh Army carrying food and medical supplies. The following day, the 116th and 127th Evacuation Hospitals arrived and took over the care and feeding of the prisoners. Chuck Ferree-Liberation of Dachau Pronounce it as though you were clearing something nasty from your throat...DACHAU. My first inkling that this pleasant Bavarian village would become a word to chill the blood, came from the terrible odor as my passenger and I disembarked from our little two-seater Stinson L-5. We were at least a mile away maybe more, but we could still smell something very disagreeable. The SHAEF officer climbed into a Command car with another General, and off they went. I hopped into a jeep with a S/Sgt. who wore the shoulder patch of the 45th. Infantry Division...the Thunderbird Division, which had been in constant combat for almost three years. We followed the command car. It was cold in the jeep, even though the sun shone brightly, and I wore my fleece-lined flight jacket. It had snowed the night before. The date was April 29th. 1945. The Sgt. began telling me what to expect when we reached our destination, which was Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp liberated only that morning. I asked about the bad odor, he said, "just wait, it gets a lot worse." Dachau had its typical Bavarian attractive homes and neat gardens. This gave me no hint of what lay beyond the landscaped entrance to the death camp. The first place the Sgt. drove me to was the awful proof of the rumors---boxcars and bodies.The stories we had heard gave no indication of the grotesque forms of the victims and their emaciated condition. These miserable creatures had kept an unusual rendezvous with death. The train loaded with prisoners had been shipped away as the American Liberators approached. The camp at their destination refused to accept them. Without food or water they had been shuttled around from camp to camp and ended up back at Dachau. Most had died on the return trip. The few who had managed to climb from the box cars were shot down by the SS. The bony frames stuck out like skeletons, no meat on those bones. Many of the cars were open gondolas. The dusting of snow gave the cadavers a ghostly aspect. We passed along a row of imposing homes of camp directors and entered a gate decorated with a large German Imperial eagle. The barracks inside bore lighting-decorated SS insignia. We passed a large kennel, it's occupants lay victims of the wrath of the recently liberated prisoners. Large and once beautiful German Shepherds, throats slashed, heads crushed. We then saw a building appropriately marked "Braus Bad," to lure victims into the gas chamber. Warnings were painted on the building and the door; the international signal for danger...a skull with crossed bones. Leaving the gas chamber we found further proof of the Nazi claim to everlasting infamy--- human bodies heaped hodge-podge filling two rooms and sprawling out the doors. It was here that the cold weather worked to the advantage of the witnesses. The stench of the bodies and the accompanying filth would have been unbearable under other conditions. The order permeated right through my heavy leather jacket. Between these crowded morgues was the creamatorium where four yawning doors stood open and eagerly consumed more victims. Outside there was much evidence of bones and ash where the furnaces had been emptied many times of their gruesome contents. Beyond this scene was a stall which had been used as an execution chamber where many had met death by the firing squad. This death farm was separated from the main stockades by a high wire fence and a moat. Swarming along the fence were hundreds of the more fortunate prisoners who were now liberated and expressing their gratitude. Beneath the murky waters of the moat were the features of several SS guards and on the opposite bank was a fitting monument to the depth of the Nazi culture. Frozen on the ground were the bodies of several SS troopers who had been slain by their liberated captives before they could surrender to the Americans. At the bottom of each of the many high watch towers, more bodies lay. SS guards who had tried to put up a fight and were killed by the Infantrymen of the 45th. Division. After seeing many more horrors of Dachau it was small wonder that the only superman who still held his head up high was the larger-than-life-sized statue of the SS trooper on the wall. After 3-4 days touring Dachau, the SHAEF officer and the others in our group flew back to Frankfurt. My passenger commented to me as we settled into our seats: "Jesus Christ, I wonder how many more of these fucking places we're going to find." Henry Herder Jr. Liberation of Buchewald Slowly, as we formed up, a ragged group of human beings started to creep out of and from between the buildings in front of us. As we watched these men, the number and the different types of buildings came to my attention. From them came these human beings, timidly, slowly, deliberately showing their hands, all in a sort of uniform, or bits and pieces of a uniform, made from horribly coarse cloth with stripes running vertically. The stripes alternating a dull gray with a dark blue. Some of those human beings wore pants made of the material, some had shirt/jackets, and some had hats. Some only had one piece of the uniform, others had two, many had all three parts. They came out of the buildings and just stood there, making me feel foolish with all of that firepower hanging on me. I certainly wouldn't be needing it with these folks. The jeeps, our company commander's and a few others, rolled forward very slowly toward these people, and, as they parted, drove slowly through them, to the brick building next to that tall chimney, and our officers disappeared inside. Our platoon sergeant had us form up some and relax, then signaled that horde of human beings to stand fast; he just held both hands up, palms out, and motioned them backwards slowly. Everything was very quiet. The tanks were all in slow idle. Hesitatingly we inched closer to that strange group as they also started inching closer to us. Some of them spoke English, and asked, "Are you American?" We said we were, and the reaction of the whole mass was immediate: simultaneously on their faces were relaxation, ease, joy, and they all began chattering to us in a babble of tongues that we couldn't answer--but we could, and did, point the muzzles of our weapons at the ground, making it obvious these weapons were not "at the ready". It was then that the smell of the place started to get to me. Our noses, rebelling against the surroundings they were constantly subjected to were not functioning anywhere near normally. But now there was a new odor, thick and hanging, and it assaulted the senses. There was still space between us and the group in front of us, the people on both sides now relaxed, one side considerably more jubilant than the other, but all of the tensions were gone. We were inching closer together when our platoon sergeant was called back to one of the tanks and got on the radio. He wasn't there but a few minutes, came back, formed up our platoon, and took us back away, toward the place where we had entered the camp, back toward the fences through which we had ripped holes. At each hole in the fence he left two of us. The sergeant left us there with instructions that we were to let no one through that hole from either direction. He left Bill and me in the middle of the hole in the fence, and told us to hold that hole. Bill and I were vigorous young things with an immense curiosity, and it was difficult standing still in the middle of a hole through a set of three fences. We hadn't the vaguest idea what we had run into. Not yet. Soon Sergeant Blowers came by and told us that all of the people inside of the camp had been told to stay inside of the fence, that we were down by the holes to make sure they stayed inside. Bill and I were told to go into the tower, go to the top floor, to stay there, and to keep people from coming out through the hole. We still had no idea what this place was. Containing the prisoners was not expected to be any trouble because they understood the need, and they were being provided for in every way that we could think of: the field hospital had just arrived, a big mess unit was on the way, loads of PX rations were coming. Sergeant Blowers told us that some of the prisoners spoke English. Then he got even quieter, looked at the ground for as moment, raised his eyes, and looking over our heads, began very softly, so softly we could barely hear him. He told us that this is what was called a "concentration camp", that we were about to see things we were in no way prepared for. He told us to look, to look as long as our stomachs lasted, and then to get out of there for a walk in the woods. I had never known Sergeant Blowers to be like this. The man had seen everything I could imagine could be seen, and this place was having this effect on him. I didn't understand. I didn't know what a concentration camp was, or could be, but I was about to learn. Bill, Tim, and I started off through the trees, down the hill to the front gate which was only a couple of hundred yards away. The gate was a rectangular hole through the solid face of the building over which was office space and a hallway. High up above the opening for the gate was a heavy wooden beam with words carved into it in German script, Arbeit Macht Frei. In a clumsy way I attempted to translate the inscription to Bill and Tim as, "Work will make you free". The three of us headed through the gate, through the twenty or thirty feet to the other side of the building. We were slightly apprehensive of what we might see. Our antennae were up. We had been teased by bits of information, and we wanted to know more. The lane we were walking on bent to the right as we cleared the building. We had barely made the turn, and there it was. In front of us a good bit, but plainly visible. The bodies of human beings were stacked like cord wood. All of them dead. All of them stripped. The inspection I made of the pile was not very close, but the corpses seemed to be all male. The bottom layer of the bodies had a north/south orientation, the next layer went east/west, and they continued alternating. The stack was about five feet high, maybe a little more; I could see over the top. They extended down the hill, only a slight hill, for fifty to seventy-five feet. Human bodies neatly stacked, naked, ready for disposal. The arms and legs were neatly arranged, but an occasional limb dangled oddly. The bodies we could see were all face up. There was an aisle, then another stack, and another aisle, and more stacks. The Lord only knows how many there were. Anatoly Shapiro-Allied Soldier liberating Auschwitz Anatoly Shapiro, 92, has never forgotten what he saw at Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945. That was the day Shapiro, who says he is the first Russian officer to enter the infamous concentration camp, led his battalion to liberate it. In an interview Saturday in his apartment in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, where he sits alongside his wife, Vita, his tall, thin form is upright and his eyes are clear as he describes, through a translator, the things he says he still sees in nightmares 60 years later. "We saw German soldiers, and when we opened the gate, we saw one barrack, then the next, on and on for a hundred barracks," he recalled. "When I saw the people, it was skin and bones. They had no shoes, and it was freezing. They couldn't even turn their heads, they stood like dead people." "I told them, 'The Russian army liberates you!' They couldn't understand. Some few who could touched our arms and said, 'Is it true? Is it real?'" As a commanding officer, his task was to direct his men. Half his battalion -- originally 900 men -- had died in battle. But nothing they had endured had prepared them for what they found inside Auschwitz. His men pleaded with him to let them leave. "The general told me, 'Have the soldiers go from barrack to barrack. Let them see what happened to the people,'" he recalled. He ordered them to accompany him, and they went from barrack to barrack. He remembers, "In German, it said, 'damas,' -- women. When I opened the barrack, I saw blood, dead people, and in between them, women still alive and naked. "It stank; you couldn't stay a second. No one took the dead to a grave. It was unbelievable. The soldiers from my battalion asked me, 'Let us go. We can't stay. This is unbelievable.' "We went to the barracks for men; it was the same as the barracks for the women. "People in the barracks were naked, or [had] just thin clothes, no shoes, in the freezing cold; it was January. Only a few people could talk; they didn't have energy. But a few people were able to talk, so slowly. [They told us] once a day they got a little water, no bread, no anything. If someone died, they took the clothes, to get a little warmth, anywhere. They died from hunger and cold. "I was shocked, devastated." Shapiro remembers two barracks for children. "Outside it said, 'kinder.' Inside one, there were only two children alive; all the others had been killed in gas chambers, or were in the 'hospital' where the Nazis performed medical experiments on them. When we went in, the children were screaming, 'We are not Jews!'" It turned out that they really were Jewish children and were afraid they were about to be taken to the gas chambers. He remembers the Russian Red Cross trying to feed the people. "Immediately they started cooking chicken soup, vegetable soup, but the people couldn't eat because their stomachs were like" -- instead of using words, he shows his clenched fist. After the Red Cross had removed survivors, Shapiro continues, he directed his soldiers to begin cleaning the barracks to prevent disease from spreading. Because of the repression of Judaism in the former Soviet Union, Shapiro says he did not know how many Jews the Nazis had killed until he learned that the figure was six million when he and his family immigrated to the United States in 1992. Shapiro has been asked to speak after the president of Poland at the Jan. 27 ceremony in Krakow commemorating the liberation. As it turns out, he cannot be at the ceremony, but he feels it is crucial to speak about what he saw so that future generations will remember. He is particularly gratified to be able to talk about what he saw because he was not able to do so in the former Soviet Union. "If I had spoken of what I saw, I would have been sent to jail," he said. "Today, I never forget what happened in Auschwitz and in the war to our six million, and to all [those who died at the hands of the Nazis]." Auschwitz was one of the first camps that the Allies reached, so the anniversary of its liberation prompts reflection by the liberators of other camps as well. Bruce Nickols REPORT ON SURRENDER OF THE GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMP AT OHRDRUF: 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 in the 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 some were wandering about. This was the first camp to be "liberated" by the Allied armies in Germany. Orhdruf 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.
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