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Gate Building

At the end of Caracho Path was the entry gate with a wrought iron inscription, legible only from within: "To each his own."

View across the empty roll call square to the gate building. The window panes of the detention cell building can be seen on the right annex.
View over the Appellplatz to the gate building. On the right you can see the window coverings of the detention cell building, 1943. Photo: identification service of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
View through the camp gate at the inscription "To each his own". Behind the gate American soldiers and former prisoners.
Camp gate with the inscription "To each his own" shortly after the liberation, April 1945. Photo: Éric Schwab.

The structure of the entry gate formed the main watchtower of a total of 23 towers, and it was the only permitted entry and exit point to the camp. Often beatings, kicks, and whippings accompanied the labour detachments of inmates leaving and entering the camp in rows of five. During the time the camp was in use, a beam spanning the passageway bore the writing "Justice or Injustice—My Fatherland" on the side facing the SS.

The words on the gate represent the exclusion of those who did not belong to the community of National Socialism, that is all those who did not belong to the propagandized notion of the "Volksgemeinschaft" (people's community).

All announcements made by the SS were broadcast over the loudspeaker at the gate building. The upper platform of this structure with its floodlights offered a view of the entire camp, especially roll call square. It served as a viewing platform during visits by official delegations.

When the tanks of the 3rd U.S. Army Division rolled across Ettersberg in 1945, the political inmates belonging the resistance in the camp occupied the gate building and raised a white flag. They thereby signalled the flight of the SS from this area to the U.S. troops and temporarily took command. The moment of their liberation—3:15 pm—is today commemorated by the frozen position of the hands of the gate clock.

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