University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
612-624-0256


CHGS

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

" I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words. If I have offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I'm not in the least sorry...."
- Edward R. Murrow, CBS Reporter
“They Died 900 a Day in ‘the Best’ Nazi Death Camp,” PM, April 16, 1945.

History

Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp for political prisoners, was established outside the city of Weimar, Germany in July 1937. Unlike other camps that carried the slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei," Buchenwald's entrance carried the slogan "Jedem das Seine" ("To Each his Own)." At the time of its liberation on April 11, 1945, it contained inmates of 51 nationalities. One of its most famous prisoners was Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Also included were American POWs. The number of victims is put at 56,545 according to Nazi records on the camp. Buchenwald was not an extermination camp as the camps in occupied Poland. Rather, its main purpose was slave labor. As the area where Buchenwald is found became part of the Soviet occupation zone of Germany and the DDR (Duetsche Demokratische Republik), it was used as camp for anti-Communists until February 10, 1950. Therefore, like several other camps, it has a double history. As many as 22,000 inmates died at Buchenwald under the Soviets.

Buchenwald Photos: Minnesota Liberators
Buchenwald Documentation: Photo Packet

Memorialization

The first memorial at Buchenwald was an oblisk made out of wood, torn from the barracks by the inmates in April of 1945. The original memorial lasted a month and was memorialized with "A Memorial To A Memorial" in 1995 by Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz.

The old memorial at Buchenwald, built in Communist-controlled East Germany, commemorates victims from 13 countries of origin but not Jews specifically. The monument was designed by Fritz Cremer and dedicated on September 14, 1958. The monument contains ashes of victims from Buchenwald and other camps. An example of socialist realism, this memorial includes the following elements: an entrance in the form of a Greek temple, a group of stele with friezes showing the ‘fascist’ brutality in the camp, stele that descend down a hill, two fire pits on each end of a long walk at the bottom of the hill connected by ceremonial urns on bases with each country of origin indicated, a bell tower, and sculptural ensemble of victims and liberator overlooking the valley below.

In 1990, after the reunification of Germany, a process of reconceptualization began at Buchenwald. A historians’ commission suggested that both the Nazi concentration camp and the Soviet “special camp” be commemorated. In addition to the old memorial, the site now includes an exhibition on Buchenwald Concentration Camp, an art exhibition, an exhibition on the history of the memorial, as well as an exhibit on Soviet Special Camp No. 2 that opened in 1997.

Memorial To A Memorial: CHGS
Horst Hoheisel's Counter-memory of the Holocaust: The End of the Monument by James E. Young

Photos Buchenwald 2007

Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Map of Buchenwald
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance to Buchenwald and clock frozen at time of liberation
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance to Buchenwald and clock frozen at time of liberation
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance gate: "Jedem das seine," ("To Each his Own")
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance gate: "Jedem das seine," ("To Each his Own")
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance gate: "Jedem das seine," ("To Each his Own")
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Blood road built by inmates near ramp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Former roadbed of the railway ramp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Housing for German Shephard dogs of the SS (1938)
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Housing for German Shephard dogs of the SS (1938)
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Housing for German Shephard dogs of the SS (1938)
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Inside the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Inside camp. Most original buildings are gone.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Inside camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Inside camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Artist Horst Hoheisel of Kassel and his monument to the original Buchenwald Memorial built by Camp survivors in April 1945.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hoheisel's Monument
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Jewish memorial in three languages
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Jewish memorial in three languages
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Jewish memorial in three languages
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Block 8
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Block removed
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sinti and Roma Memorial at Buchenwald
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sinti and Roma Memorial at Buchenwald
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Sinti and Roma Memorial at Buchenwald
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sinti and Roma Memorial
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sinti and Roma Memorial
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Storage house and latrine in foreground (inside restored brick)
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Explanation of Buchenwald Little Camp. Photo of inmates including Eli Wiesel at Liberation.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Victims in the Little Camp, Architect Steven B. Jacobs, New York
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Text about Little Camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Text about Little Camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Little Camp detail and cities of origin of victims
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Little camp details and architects/sponsors
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Little camp details and architects/sponsors
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Little camp details and architects/sponsors
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Little camp details and architects/sponsors
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Little Camp memorial
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Pylons that held electric fence
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Restoration work creates ethical question
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Latrine
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners killed during the Soviet period of the camp, 1945-1950. Stainless steel poles commemorate each victim shot in the forest area. Each pole is numbered at the base.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to Political Prisoners
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Crematorium
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to murdered Jews
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Memorial to murdered Jews
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
SS baracks outside camp near entrance

Original Buchenwald Memorial Images

Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Entrance in form of a Greek Temple
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Six Stellae describing Fascist (Nazi) cruelty in the camp
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Urns and pedestels commemoration 17 countries of origin of victims
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Fire pit
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Second fire pit and bell tower
Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Bell tower from below
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sculpture of victims and partisan fighters at Bell Tower overlooks countryside near Weimar
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sculpture of victims and partisan fighters at Bell Tower overlooks countryside near Weimar
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sculpture of victims and partisan fighters at Bell Tower overlooks countryside near Weimar
Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Sculpture of victims and partisan fighters at Bell Tower overlooks countryside near Weimar

The photos on this page were taken by Stephen Feinstein during a tour of the camp with artist Horst Hoheisel of Kassel, who has created several monuments in Buchenwald and Weimar.