U.S. soldiers in front of the camp gate. In the foreground, SS ammunition crates and hand grenades, April 18, 1945. Photo: Ardean R. Miller, U.S. Signal Corps. National Archives Washington

Chronology of the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp in April 1945

In early April 1945 nearly 48,000 persons were imprisoned in Buchenwald Concentration Camp. In response to the fact that the U.S. Army had advanced as far as Gotha, the SS began vacating the camp on April 7. Despite various delay tactics on the part of the inmates, the SS succeeded in sending some 28,000 on so-called death marches. The designation was justified: approximately one in three inmates died on the march or was shot to death by members of the SS, the Volkssturm ("People’s Militia") or the Hitler Youth. On the basis of reports made by the committee of liberated camp inmates as well as by U.S. Army units, it has been possible to reconstruct the dramatic hours leading up to the end of SS rule of the camp.

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