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Photo: Paul Bodot. Association Française Buchenwald-Dora, Paris

Inmates and SS men

Inmates armed with rifles capturing SS men a few hours after the camp’s liberation, April 11, 1945

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Photo: Association Française Buchenwald-Dora, Paris

Liberator

Sergeant Paul Bodot, scout of the 4th Armored Division, in the jeep in which he reached Buchenwald at about 5:00 pm on April 11, 1945, beginning of April 1945

11 April 1945

Morning

Units of the 4th and 6th Armored Divisions of the Third U.S. Army continue their advance from the area around Gotha towards the east via Erfurt.

around 10:00 a.m.

Camp senior Hans Eiden and Franz Eichhorn are ordered to report to the camp gate. Concentration camp commandant Pister announces the withdrawal of the SS to Eiden and instructs him to take control of the camp when this plan goes into effect.

10:00 a.m.

The "enemy alarm" siren sounds. The order "All members of the SS out of the camp immediately!" is given over the loudspeakers.

10:30 a.m.

The international camp committee mobilizes the resistance groups and distributes illegally obtained weapons.

11:00 a.m.

Infantry fire of American troops northwest of the camp.

around noon

The members of the SS command staff flee. The watchtower personnel abscond.

1:00 p.m.

The first two tanks of the 4th Armored Division of the Third U.S. Army approach from the direction of Hottelstedt.

2:00 p.m.

Heavy machine-gun fire at the north-western edge of the camp; twelve American tanks are sighted near the service courtyard. Four American tanks circuit the camp to the north of the grounds. Heavy fighting between American troops and the SS to the west of the camp.

2:30 pm

Thanks of the 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division overrun the SS and command staff area without stopping. The SS has been militarily defeated.

2:45 p.m.

The armed resistance groups gather downhill from the muster ground.

3:00 p.m.

Otto Roth, the head of the military resistance groups, and two electricians enter the gate building by way of a ladder and occupy it without encountering resistance. The camp senior Hans Eiden follows them, hoists a white flag, and informs the camp of the situation in a short loudspeaker announcement.

4:00 p.m.

As planned, and without a struggle, the international resistance groups have taken control of the various areas of the camp and captured 76 prisoners in the process.

4:45 p.m.

Representatives of ten nations gather. They appoint a camp council and various commissions to ensure survival.

around 5:00 p.m.

Two scouts of the 4th Armored Division arrive at the camp gate in a jeep. Lieutenant Emmanuel Desard and Sergeant Paul Bodot - both Frenchman - learn of the combat operations from the liberated inmates. Lieutenant Desard appoints the camp senior head of the camp. He reports to the division staff what he has discovered: a liberated camp, armed and organized inmates.

around 5:10 p.m.

A reconnaissance troop of the 9th Infantry Batallion, part of Combat Team 9 of the 6th Armored Division, enters the camp at the northern end of the grounds. Captain Frederic Keffer, Sergeant Herbert Gottschalk, Sergeant Harry Ward and Private James Hoyt are greeted as liberators. Like Desard and Bodot, they remain for only a short time.

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