9th Air Force Insignia Orv Iverson

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Orv Iverson's perspective from being in the first group of American's witnessing the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

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Orv's story - Buchenwald

Orv by Buchenwald sign

Orv Iverson was with the first troops at the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp and witnessed the aftermath of this horrendous atrocity. These are some of his own reflections on the horrors he saw.

I believe it was the last of April 1945 when we arrived in Weimar and set up the radio station near the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. At first opportunity I paid a visit to the camp. I guess by now I should have been hardened to death and suffering. Well, what I 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 overwhelming. Sort of smelled like the out house on our farm, but much worse. Starved corpses were stacked like cordwood in front of the furnace buildings, where their bodies were cremated and the heat was used to heat the SS barracks. The bone ashes were piled outside the furnace room and was used for fertilizer. Some the living prisoners were barely able to walk, some were in the hospital, stacked like loaves of bread in in wooden shelves, no mattresses, and lying in their own excretion. In the latrine there was a six foot trench where some of the prisoners had fallen and were lying in feces. 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 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 camp site. Many shed tears, some were overcome, emotionally, and some stared in cold silence.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

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Buchenwald Ovens The Last Mile 16kb Bodies awaiting furnace Children of Buchenwald
"Human Furnace" The Last Mile Piled bodies at Buchenwald Children of Buchenwald

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photos by Orv Iverson

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