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Ohrdruf Concentration Camp: GI's Remember

by Sol Tannenbaum

Sol Tannenbaum, a New Yorker, went overseas in 1944 with the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. He fought in Normandy, across France, the Battle of the Bulge, and into Germany. His unit was sweeping through Germany when it encountered the totally unexpected on April 14, 1945: Ohrdruf, a concentration camp, sixty miles southwest of Buchenwald.

"I was one of the first people into the camp. I heard the sound of shots which we thought might have been enemy resistance but turned out to be guards shooting the inmates. We captured the guards. They never had a chance to kill again.

All I can remember is the total shock and revulsion at what I saw. My fellow GIs around me were saying, 'Oh God, what is this?' Bodies were piled up like cordwood. The few inmates who were alive were emaciated, just skin and bones,"

This experience had a powerful effect on Mr. Tannenbaum. He became active in Holocaust remembrance programs. He told audiences: "This experience made me even more determined to keep reminding the world about what happened under Hitler.

Christians and Jews have to continue remembering. I have to tell my children and my children have to tell their children."

Source: GIs Remember, (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1994).