Known as the deadliest conflict in human history, World War II was beyond devastating and the feeling of loss and pain is still evident today, even to those who had no association with the tragedies that took place. World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global battle that directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries and resulted in 50 million to 85 million fatalities. To say that the war was a tragedy is an understatement.
A group of German civilians had to face the crimes that their distant ancestors committed when they were forced to watch a video that encapsulated the horrid, yet truthful images resulting from the atrocities that were carried out by the Nazis.
The video below shows the German locals as they are taken around the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany following the days that it was liberated by American troops. Nearly one thousand Weimar residents were led by US troops to the camp just four days after the liberation, so they could see the atrocities that went on there. Groups of 100 at a time were marched through the area. Shortly after these tours, American journalist, Edward R. Murrow, came to the camp to report on the conditions.
Murrow shared the following description in a radio report…
“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.
Several on the tour can be seen crying as they are walking around the camp amongst emaciated piles of bodies on the backs of trucks and items that belonged to the victims can be seen lying out for all to see. There are several portraits that look as if they were drawn by loved ones while in captivity. One woman is so overcome with emotion that she collapses and two soldiers have to carry her out of the area.
According to SS documents, this camp was responsible for 35,000 deaths, however; some say that the number was most likely a lot higher. As one of the largest concentration camps, Buchenwald held disabled people, Jewish people, gypsies, homosexuals, and Soviet Prisoners of War. It was the first camp to be liberated by American troops. Ohrdruf was a subcamp of Buchenwald and wasn’t liberated until April 4, 1945 by the US 89th Infantry Division. On April 11th, troops finally made it to the main camp at 3:15pm.
The clock that read 3:15 all those years ago, is still at the museum today, the hands still resting on the same time.
Commenters shared their own memories of the aftermath of the war…
“I remember around 1984 when they released the tapes that the Germans had taken from the concentration camps. I was in my late teens living at home in Montreal. Every night I stayed up watching TV looking at piles of bodies skin & bones being thrown into huge ditches, actual real footage from inside the camps.”