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Lily Lamb

Miss Schmidt

Honors English 9

February 27, 2018

An Annotated Bibliography: Liberation of the Concentration Camps

Hart, Stephen A. “Liberation of the Concentration Camps.” BBC, 17 Feb. 2011,

www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/liberation_camps_01.shtml.

Amongst the western public there was, towards the end of WWII, already at least a slight

awareness of the crimes being committed by Hitler’s Third Reich. This awareness was

increased greatly in the summer of 1944 when news reports went out about the

discoveries made when the Soviets reached Germany’s extermination camps in Eastern

Poland, and even more so when the advancing army arrived at the infamous Auschwitz in

1945. Auschwitz was one of the Nazi’s six extermination camps, they were built for the

total extermination of the European Jews and managed to kill over three million before

they were invaded. Even more haunting discoveries were yet to be made by the

advancing allied forces. For, as they advanced the Nazis attempted to move their

prisoners from more threatened camps, and so created an even worse situation of torture

and chaos. The Americans found the first, recently abandoned work camp on 4 April

1945; the first camp liberated by the British was Bergen-Belsen, which had recently been
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crowded by the addition to its population of about 60, 000 evacuated Jews from the

Auschwitz system. This camp was surrendered to the British by the Germans due to it

containing nearly 9,000 inmates who were ill with typhus and had no access to medical

care as the Germans did not want the disease to spread to soldiers. When the British took

the camp, they found camp No. 2 to be a typical German prison-camp, and it was only

when they pushed on to No. 1, where about 60, 000 evacuees had been placed, that they

found an infamously horrifying situation. This situation, was brought about by diseases

flourishing amongst the overcrowded area, and the German’s decision to stop providing

any means of life to the inmates whose fate seemed already so decidedly bleak. The

British soldiers found 20, 000 unburied corpses laying, rotting in No. 1, and about 50,

000 survivors who were nearly indiscernible from the actual deceased. The Liberators

tried their very best to help the inmates, but there were too many ill to heal them all.

About 13,000 inmates still died in Belsen even after liberation and despite all the British

relief efforts. The Liberators had to deal with the dead as well as the living, to prevent the

spread of typhus as much as possible. Their first idea was to have the ex-guards of the

camp carry the corpses to mass graves, but this proved to be too slow and the final

solution was just to bulldoze the corpses into the graves. The camp did not last to stand as

a lesson, for when all the inmates had been placed elsewhere, the camp was burned as

one last prevention of the spread of the diseases it contained. Though the camp did not

last, pictures and reports of it did pass onto the public, and this fed a repulsion of the

Nazi’s and their ways that carries on in our culture, to this day.
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Lade, Diane C. “70 Years Later, Liberators Recall Horrors of Concentration Camps.” Sun

Sentenial, 21 Apr. 2015, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/fl-liberators-world-war-

20150417-story.html

The WWII Veterans of South Florida remember their experiences in the ending moments

of WWII, 70 years after they occurred. Some fought in the last few battles, some were

present for Germany’s surrender, and others were the ones to uncover the extent of

Hitler’s crimes in the discovery of his concentration camps. These American soldiers

who were the first to enter the compounds of work, torture, and death during the Spring

of 1945 became know as Liberators, and they now share their experiences, which may

have been earlier unspeakable, as the last few eye-witness accounts of the true horrors

that occurred during the Holocaust and WWII.

Liberator, Albin Irzyk claims to have been completely surprised by the discovery of the

camp, Buchenwald, hidden by a pretty town in central Germany. He had received some

information the previous night about finding bodies, but he was still not completely

prepared. His first conclusion upon seeing the hastily slaughtered bodies lying about was

that they could be only piles of ragged clothing. Most of the liberators were similarly

unprepared and those who share their tales tell of the slow, dreadful realization that came

upon them.

George Katzman was present in Dachau and took pictures of the horrors discovered there,

per instruction of the Army, so that these events may never be denied. Katzman has, in

fact, had much experience in passing on the message and memories despite any
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inclination he had against reliving the harrowing experience. He, on one occasion, used

his photos to prove to a University Professor that the Holocaust wasn’t just a hoax, and

he has, on many occasions, given presentations to various bodies even though discussing

the topic drains him.

The third Florida resident with a tale of the Liberation experienced things from the other

side. Julius Einstein was an inmate of Dachau and was present on the very day on which

Katzman took his photos and collected his stories. Einstein can remember fondly the

moment when a soldier was kind enough to replace his pants for him, and the way in

which the entire Liberation felt like a miracle for all the inmates. Einstein has met three

soldiers who were part of the liberation of Dachau on that morning, including Katzman.

Einstein is still thankful for them and feels that each meeting is almost like a family

reunion.

“Liberation.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial

Museum, www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007724.

The Soviets were the ones who began the liberation of Nazi concentration camps toward

the end of the war. The first camp liberated by the Soviets was the Majdanek camp of

Poland in the summer of 1944. Among the other camps entered by the Soviets was the

hastily evacuated Auschwitz. Here, the retreating Germans had left behind sick and

exhausted prisoners and thousands of confiscated possessions. The soldiers of America,

Canada, France, and Great Britain also assisted with the liberations. The American troops
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liberated Buchenwald as well as Dachau. While, the British were responsible for

liberating Bergen-Belsen. Despite the German’s best attempts at hiding their crimes, the

Allies still found thousands of dead bodies and prisoners who resembled living-skeletons.

The prisoners they found were dirty, starved, and practically animals. There was a

massive, combined effort by the Allied sources, physicians, and relief workers to help the

prisoners as much as they could. Many of the remaining prisoners were too weak to be

saved and couldn’t even digest food. Within just a few days of liberation, about half of

the prisoners discovered in Auschwitz had died despite best efforts of the liberators.

There was a mixed reaction from the survivors to their freedom. Some were excited to

see their families, some felt guilty at having survived, and others were simply

overwhelmed with it all. The prisoners timidly tried to get their lives back on track from

the nightmare that they had previously been through.

“The Holocaust: World Response.” World Response to the Holocaust,

www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/world-response-to-the-holocaust

When the Holocaust ended, the stories of it finally reached the civilians. These civilians

were shocked and horrified at the skeletal figures that they saw laying in massive piles,

the living skeletons that recalled, to them, their torture. These civilians then asked the

questions: How was this allowed to happen? Were the Allies aware? Apparently, some

were aware, for American newspapers had published stories of the early Jewish

mistreatment in Germany, and stories of the Holocaust by1942. Though, the stories
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published were small and hidden amongst the other news, and either denied or

unconfirmed by the US government. The Government then, also, hid any information that

came up as undeniable, such as reconnaissance photos that showed prisoners lined-up

before gas chambers. Not only were the government’s own photos kept classified but also

any photos that were smuggled from the camps. Along with the photos, there were

multiple reports delivered by escaped Jews from earlier in the Holocaust. These reports

were all secrets as well. Though the public were not widely aware, the governments were,

and yet not much actually happened. Not much action was taken, despite the early

opportunities, like Prime Minister Churchill’s idea to bomb the Auschwitz death camp,

and his offered trade with the Nazi’s that would have saved one million Jews from the

concentration camps. Eventually President Roosevelt issued a statement condemning the

Germans for their genocidal actions and, finally, more support arose for the Jews.

Support such as the Pope’s request that Hungarian Jews be hid, and the British bombing

of Auschwitz in 1944. When the news of the Holocaust finally, truly reached the public,

the limited response of the Allied forces did as well. Ultimately, nearly 11 million

civilians in total were destroyed during the Holocaust. There would certainly have been a

considerably smaller loss should the global community have been more aware of the

terrors before the end of them and had taken more action against them.
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Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux,

2017.

Elie Wiesel was a teenager when the Nazis began their collection and torture of Jews. His

neighbors tried their best to stay optimistic, and they determinedly insisted that the Nazis

would never reach them, but the hopes were vain ones. The Nazis did reach Sighet, they

did make the Jews’ lives an utter misery, and they did take them away to concentration

camps. Wiesel was separated from his family, put through various tests and selections,

and brought within feet of death all on his first night in the camp. His situation got

slightly better when he was moved from Birkenau to the main Auschwitz camp where he

was under the control of a more merciful man and did nothing much more than eat. Until,

again, he switched between the sections of Auschwitz. Wiesel was put to work in Buna

along with his father, and it was here that he truly fell into a pattern with the processes of

the camp. Unfortunately, getting used to the camp meant becoming used to torture and

death. Wiesel examines this adaption and the loss of humanity that occurs amongst both

prisoner and Nazi, one which leads sons to abandon their fathers and for all to focus only

on survival. This raw fight for survival only gets worse as the time goes on. Though

Wiesel’s time in the camp does in fact go on, he manages to survive despite feeling

inadequate, despite losing his God and a lot of his humanity. He survives, and works, and

then the Allies approach, and with them come the first chance of liberation. Though, even

with the enemy so close, the Nazis continue trying to exterminate the Jews, and the

attempt leads to the Death March that Elie and all the other Jews make, from Auschwitz

to Buchenwald. Once in Buchenwald, the now already diminished population of inmates


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continues to shrink, they give up, and catch illnesses, and many, including Wiesel’s own

father, die when they are agonizingly close to their final liberation. Wiesel then depicts

the final, desperate attempts of the Nazis to keep going, the arrival of the American

liberators, and his experiences after liberation: at first only eating along with the other ex-

prisoners, then shortly after being hospitalized and finally seeing himself again and

noticing how he had changed.