The Men of the Holocaust
Liberation of Buchenwald
As Soviet forces swept through Poland in 1945, the Germans evacuated thousands of concentration camp prisoners and sent them on death marches (54). More than 10,000 weak and exhausted prisoners from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen arrived in Buchenwald in January 1945 (55). In early April 1945, as US forces approached the camp, the Germans began to evacuate some 28,000 prisoners from the main camp and an additional several thousand prisoners from the subcamps of Buchenwald (56). About a third of these prisoners died from exhaustion during the march or shortly after arriving (57).
On April 11, 1945, in expectation of liberation, starved and emaciated prisoners stormed the watchtowers, seizing control of the camp (58). Later that afternoon, US forces entered Buchenwald (59). Soldiers found more than 21,000 people in the camp (60). Between July 1937 and April 1945, the SS imprisoned some 250,000 persons from all countries of Europe in Buchenwald (61). Exact mortality figures for the Buchenwald site can only be estimated, as camp authorities never registered a significant number of the prisoners (62). The SS murdered at least 56,000 male prisoners in the Buchenwald camp system, some 11,000 of them Jews (63).