Buchenwald is the third Nazi concentration camp I have visited after Auswitch and Birkenau in Poland.
Buchenwald concentration camp (in German is Konzentrationslager (KZ) Buchenwald) was a German Nazi concentration camp located on the Ettersberg (Etter Mountain) near Weimar, Germany. It was established in July 1937 and became one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German land.
This camp lodged prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes, religious and political prisoners, Roma and Sinti, Jehovah’s Witnesses, criminals, homosexuals, and prisoners of war. These camp prisoners worked primarily as forced labor in local armament factories. This camp was used by the Soviet occupation authorities as an internment camp, known as NKVD special camp number 2, from 1945-1950.
The tour to Buchenwald is one of the activities in summer school I attended in University of Erfurt. Since we were in group, we were lucky to have a guided tour so we can get comprehensive information of this historical place. ‘Not a happy place to visit, but still it is part of the history’ is the statement mostly said by my German friends. I really respect for this. I was lucky enough to get into this camp, but was too sad to listen to every story explained by our tour guide.
Embedded in the camp’s main entrance gate is the slogan Jedem das Seine (literally “to each his own”, but figuratively “everyone gets what he deserves”).
The Nazis constructed Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany in 1937. The camp was operational until 1945 as its liberation. The former camp was used as an NKVD special camp for Nazis by the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1950. The Soviets handed over Buchenwald to the East German Ministry of Internal Affairs on 6 January 1950.
Originally the camp was named after the hill Ettersberg. It was later renamed to Buchenwald (German for beech forest) because of the close ties of the location to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was being idealized as “the embodiment of the German Spirit” (Verkörperung des deutschen Geistes). The Goethe Eiche (Goethe’s Oak) stood inside the camp’s perimeter, and the stump of the tree is preserved as part of the memorial at KZ Buchenwald.
Between April 1938 and April 1945, about 238,380 people of various nationalities were incarcerated in Buchenwald. That included including 350 Western Allied POWs. One estimate places the number of deaths in Buchenwald at 56,000.
During an American bombing raid on August 24, 1944 that was directed at a nearby armament factory, several bombs, including incendiaries, also fell on the camp, resulting in heavy casualties amongst the prisoners and damage to the Goethe Eiche.
This is the crematorium. The oven is made by Topf & Sohne, which I will tell in another section, since we also visited Topf & Sohne in Erfurt, the company which produced those oven.