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April 11, 2005

April the Eleventh

April 11th, 1945

 US soldiers liberated Nazi concentration camp "Buchenwald".

Earlier today, in Germany, survivors, liberators and others gathered to remember the event.

From Ha'aretz:

Elderly survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp laid flowers and observed a moment of silence for victims of the Nazis, 60 years after U.S. troops liberated the camp.

Flags from some 30 nations hung in the cold drizzle on Sunday, representing the nations from which the camp's 240,000 prisoners came between 1937 and 1945. About 56,000 died - either worked to death, shot or killed in medical experiments.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. veterans came to the camp memorial outside Weimar for the commemoration, which kindled vivid memories for the survivors, most of them in their 70s and 80s.

Georg Sterner, a Hungarian Jew, recalled looking out from Barracks No. 37 when the first U.S. tank crashed through the barbed-wire perimeter fence on the morning of April 11, 1945.

"We were hanging out of the windows," said Sterner, who was 17 then. "It came slowly, slowly. It stopped between the trees. It revved the engine ... made a lunge, and broke through."

Inside, shocked soldiers from the U.S. 3rd Army found some 21,000 starving survivors and piles of corpses, some only partially burned in the crematorium ovens as the Nazi SS and their helpers fled the camp.

"It was so incredible - stacks of bodies, the smell, the total shock and confusion, people walking around by the thousands," said Jerry Hontas, who arrived the next day as a 21-year-old Army medic.

"We were so shocked we couldn't talk to each other for days," said Hontas, of Boca Raton, Florida. "We had no concept of this kind of insane cruelty."

On Sunday, some survivors came in wheelchairs. Others wore replicas of their striped inmate's uniforms and their old prisoner numbers.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 11, 2005 09:07 AM

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Elderly survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp laid flowers and observed a moment of silence for victims of the Nazis, 60 years after U.S. troops liberated the camp.Flags from some 30 nations hung in the cold drizzle on Sunday, [Read More]

Tracked on April 11, 2005 02:01 PM

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