Today in History, April 11, 1945:
“To the Allies. To the army of General Patton. This is the Buchenwald concentration camp.
We request help. They want to evacuate us. The SS wants to destroy us.”
The Allies were driving across Europe, and as a result, the German War Machine was in panic. When the Russians overtook concentration camps on their front, the Germans “evacuated” thousands of Jews, Gypsies and prisoners of war to their second largest concentration camp, Buchenwald, Germany.
Buchenwald had housed slave labor, and murdered thousands, since 1937. EIGHT interminable years of forced labor, torture, rape, experiments on human beings.
Now when the Americans approached Buchenwald, the SS planned to “evacuate” the prisoners there, and destroy the camp to destroy the evidence.
The hundreds of thousands of prisoners were…evidence.
The prisoners had managed to construct a makeshift transmitter and sent the above message in several different languages in desperation.
After years of no hope, of unimaginable horrors….they received a reply, “KZ Bu. Hold out. RUSHING TO YOUR AID. Staff of Third Army.” The prisoner who had risked his life to send the plea for assistance…fainted.
Emboldened, several prisoners who were able, charged the machine gun towers surrounding them and took control of the main camp (there were several satellite camps).
On April 11 elements of the US 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, U.S. 6th Armored Division, US Third Army (Patton’s Army) entered Buchenwald and liberated it.
US Army commanders ordered the Mayor and citizens of the nearby towns to provide food for the starving prisoners until US supplies could arrive.
Reportedly Patton ordered that the citizens of nearby towns, who had known of the atrocities but remained silent, to tour the camps that included stack after stack after stack of bone thin bodies. A lesson?
Each generation thinks that they have “progressed” beyond such inhumanity. It is a delusion. As long as man exists, evil will exist. It must be recognized and guarded against.