Experience: Liberation

Rose Bernbaum
Simon Binke
Edith Birnholtz
Rose Bohm
Miriam Brysk
Bella Camhi
Albert Cimmer
Sarah Cwagenberg
Raya Danishevskaya
Robert Devries
Henry Dorfman
Mala Dorfman
Naomi Engel Ebenstein
Arnold Einhorn
Belle Eisenberg
Isidor Eisenberg
Luba Elbaum
Isaac Engel
Irena Erlich
Louis Falek
Manya Auster Feldman
Fred Ferber
Gershon Flam
Erno Friedman
Mike Gluck
Etka Goldenberg
Alex Greenberger
Genia Greener
Isaac Greener
Sara Greenfield
Rachel Growe
Jack Gun
Sam (Anszel) Gun
Rose Guttman
Alex Hauser
Ilona Havas
Agnes Helfman
Otto Herczeg
Ben Hersen
Kurt Hirschfeld
Abraham Holcman
Sally Horwitz
David Kahan
Helen Kain
Ernest Kappel
Gabriella Karp
Anna Klein
Frida Klein
Sophie Klisman
Abraham (Zalek) Kolnierz
Edith Kozlowski
Sarah Kreisman
Alexander Kuhn
Nathan Lachman
George Laksberger
Sara Landsman
Naum Layer
Mayer Lebovic
Ruth Lehman
Fred Lessing
Manuel Levi
Magda Losonci
Agnes Lugosi
Thomas Lugosi
Edward Malinowski
Eby Mann
Martin Marks
Paula Marks-Bolton
Moniek Milberger
Bessie Mittelman
Emmanuel Mittelman
Paul Molnar
Ida Moskovitz
Saul Muskovitz
Diane Neuman
George Ohrenstein
Steve Oliwek
Jeannette Olson
Abe Pasternak
Harold Perlman
Sylvia Perlman
Henry Pestka
Irene Petrinitz
Lola Pines
Max Pines
Jack Pludwinski
Esther Posner
Phyllis Potach
Selma Rich
Helen Rosenberg
Yetti Rosenthal
Fay Rotberg
Mirel Rottersman
Agata (Agi) Rubin
Helen Solarz Sadik
Nathan Sadik
Mania Salinger
Aaron Salzberg
Katherine "Kathy" Sattler
Julius Schaumberg
Vera Schey
Margaret Schwartz
Margit Schwartz
Sandra (Sunny) Segal
Ina Silbergleit
Sara Silow
Gisela Solomon
William Sperber
Ida Steuer
Joseph Steuer
Helen Strassberg
Fela Szymkowicz
Alex Ungar
George Vine
Sabina Water
Larry Wayne
Ruth Webber
Jack Weinberger
Michael Weiss
Sidy Weiss
Eva Wimmer
Bella Zarnowiecki
Aron Zoldan
“As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Nazi Germany, they began to encounter tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. Many of these prisoners had survived forced marches into the interior of Germany from camps in occupied Poland. These prisoners were suffering from starvation and disease.

“Soviet forces were the first to approach a major Nazi camp, reaching Majdanek near Lublin, Poland, in July 1944. Surprised by the rapid Soviet advance, the Germans attempted to hide the evidence of mass murder by demolishing the camp. Camp staff set fire to the large crematorium used to burn the bodies of murdered prisoners, but in the hasty evacuation, the gas chambers were left standing. In the summer of 1944, the Soviets also overran the sites of the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centers. The Germans dismantled these camps in 1943 after most of the Jews in Poland had already been killed.

“The Soviets liberated Auschwitz, the largest extermination and concentration camp, in January 1945. The Nazis had forced the majority of Auschwitz prisoners to march westward (in what would become known as "death marches"), and Soviet soldiers found only several thousand emaciated prisoners alive when they entered the camp. There was abundant evidence of mass murder in Auschwitz. The retreating Germans had destroyed most of the warehouses in the camp, but in the remaining ones the Soviets found personal belongings of the victims. They discovered, for example, hundreds of thousands of men's suits, more than 800,000 women's outfits, and more than 14,000 pounds of human hair.

“In the following months, the Soviets liberated additional camps in the Baltic states and in Poland. Shortly before Germany's surrender, Soviet forces liberated the Stutthof, Sachsenhausen, and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.

U.S. forces liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, on April 11, 1945, a few days after the Nazis began evacuating the camp. On the day of liberation, an underground prisoner resistance organization seized control of Buchenwald to prevent atrocities by the retreating camp guards. American forces liberated more than 20,000 prisoners at Buchenwald. They also liberated Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenbürg, Dachau, and Mauthausen.

“British forces liberated concentration camps in northern Germany, including Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen. They entered the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, near Celle, in mid-April 1945. Some 60,000 prisoners, most in critical condition because of a typhus epidemic, were found alive. More than 10,000 of them died from the effects of malnutrition or disease within a few weeks of liberation.

Liberators confronted unspeakable conditions in the Nazi camps, where piles of corpses lay unburied. Only after the liberation of these camps was the full scope of Nazi horrors exposed to the world. The small percentage of inmates who survived resembled skeletons because of the demands of forced labor and the lack of food, compounded by months and years of maltreatment. Many were so weak that they could hardly move. Disease remained an ever-present danger, and many of the camps had to be burned down to prevent the spread of epidemics. Survivors of the camps faced a long and difficult road to recovery.

United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem
Accessed on July 26, 2011

An inmate of the Bergen-Belsen camp, after liberation. Bergen-Belsen, Germany, after April 15, 1945.
Accessed on July 26, 2011

Liberated prisoners demonstrate the overcrowded conditions at the Buchenwald concentration camp, Germany, April 23, 1945.
Accessed on July 26, 2011