Emaciated and suffering from an array of diseases, Jewish prisoners in their barracks at Buchenwald concentration camp are photographed after the camp was liberated by the U.S. 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division, of United States Army Central. Prisoners from all over Europe were incarcerated at Buchenwald and worked primarily as forced laborers in local armament factories; these included Jews, Poles, Soviet POWs, repeat criminal offenders, homosexuals, Gypsies (Roma), Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious minorities, Freemasons, the mentally ill, foreign forced laborers arrested on various charges, communists and others with political ideologies that opposed National Socialism, amongst others. On 4 April 1945, the U.S. 89th Infantry Division overran Ohrdruf concentration camp, a subcamp of Buchenwald. Buchenwald was partially evacuated by the Germans on 8 April 1945. In the days before the arrival of the American army, thousands of the prisoners were forced to join the evacuation marches. Those remaining at Buchenwald were liberated 11 April 1945 and later that day elements of the U.S. 83rd Infantry Division liberated Langenstein, one of a number of smaller camps comprising the Buchenwald complex. Elements of the U.S. 80th Infantry Division took control of the camp the following day. Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Thuringia, Germany. April 1945.
A French Jew sits amongst the dead at Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald concentration camp, following the camp’s liberation by the U.S. 3rd Armored Division and various 104th Infantry Division attachments on 11 April 1945. Near Nordhausen, Thuringia, Germany. April 1945.
Portrait of 19-year-old Polish slave laborer Jan Sówka awaiting execution by hanging for the murder of a German policeman. On 26 April 1942, a Polish forced laborer who worked at Bauern Schmidt’s courtyard was beaten to the point of unconsciousness by a German policeman named Albin Gottwald. Two Polish men took revenge on Gottwald and stabbed him to death on a forest path between Poppenhausen and Einöd. The two Poles then escaped. One of the two Poles, Jan Sówka was apprehended shortly after his escape. On 11 May 1942, nineteen prisoners from Buchenwald concentration camp were taken to the place in the woods where Gottwald’s body had been found. They were to be punished for the act committed by Sówka and his accomplice. The German soldiers built three gallows, two consisted of ten hooks each, and one was a single gallows. The nineteen Polish prisoners were positioned behind the gallows, and Sówka stood on the opposite side. The executions began at 10:50 where the prisoners were hanged one after another. Finally, Sówka was in turned hanged after being forced to witness the reprisal hangings of the other inmates. Hundreds of Polish forced laborers from the surrounding area were rounded up and forced to watch the executions. Poppenhausen, Thuringia, Germany. 26 April 1942.