Orv, England 1944 Orv Iverson
WWII autobiography

Chapter: Liberation of Buchenwald
Concentration Camp

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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.

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