Nazi Concentration Camp (Ohrdruf) in Germany WW II
We crossed the Rhine River at Koblenz, Germany and fought our way farther into Germany. We came upon a Nazi Concentration Camp named Ohrdruf, near the city named the same. When we went inside the camp, we were shocked by what we saw. We were used to seeing dead bodies on Utah Beach, St. Lo, Battle of the Bulge and at many other Fire Fights. But seeing the incredibly inhumane conditions and how the prisoners had been treated was just sickening. [We saw disturbing things.]
The Jewish and other prisoners were terrified of us at first, because of our uniforms. They thought they were in for more beatings, torture and cruelty. They soon realized we were not there to harm them. They were dressed in pajama like clothes with vertical black and white stripes and some were naked. At the entrance of the camp, the Nazi’s machine gunned many prisoners before they fled.
The G.I.’s were giving these prisoners Army Rations that they all carried. The senior American doctor in the camp ordered everyone to stop feeding these people, because your killing them. Our food was too rich for their starving bodies. The weaker ones died eating our rations.
We went inside the barracks. Each side of the room were three tor four shelves for the prisoners to lie on. No straw, no blankets, just wooden shelves. The prisoners looked at us with bulging eyes--sunken stomachs and reaching out to us. The barracks had an outhouse type toilet in the center. Men and women lived together and they lost all dignity they had. Between the smell of the outhouse, death, and the infections prisoners had obtained due to beatings, we had to exit the barracks. The barracks were made of one inch siding with no insulation. They were extremely hot in the winter and terribly cold in the winter. The lack of sanitation was unbelievable.
American soldiers found a German camp guard hiding in a culvert at the entrance to the camp. He looked to be about my age of 19 years old. You could see the fear in his eyes. The Americans looked like they might form a lynching party, but the M.P.’s took him away and I never saw him again.
The Jews and other survivors were confused at the sight of their Liberators and the American soldiers could not believe what they were seeing. Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” was not yet common knowledge.
The Ohrdruf Camp was a satellite camp near the infamous Buchenwald death camp. Buchenwald had the crematories and Ohrdruf did not. Ohrdruf sent many prisoners to Buchenwald for cremation. However, Buchenwald, could not handle such immense amount of prisoners and so the two camps dug huge pits. Needless to say what happened with those pits. Others were shipped off on trains.
After about five hours in the camp, we had to leave and get back to the war. Two days after we were there, Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton visited the camp to see the horror stories they had heard about.
We heard later that the U.S. Army made all the civilians in the city of Ohrdruf go through the camp to see the atrocities committed there. They all said they did not know this was going on. They all lied. You could smell the camp a great distance away.
When prisoners were freed, they had no place to go. No home, no transportation, no money, no family, no clothes, and were starving.
There were over three hundred concentration camps in Germany. Some with crematories, some with gas chambers and many dug huge pits to destroy the evidence of Nazi cruelty.
We have much evil today. We cannot weaken our Military.
God Bless America!