This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps and the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe. Holocaust Remembrance Day observance was designated Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Observances and remembrance activities will occur nationwide between Sunday, April 19, and Sunday, April 26.
The genocide now known as the Holocaust occurred between 1933 and 1945 when the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (commonly known as the Nazis) and their collaborators carried out the systematic persecution and murder of 6 million European Jews and persecuted and killed millions of others whom they considered politically hostile, racially inferior, or socially unfit. This organized extermination was largely accomplished through the Nazis incarcerating millions of victims within a system of approximately 15,000 labor, death, and concentration camps, which were spread across occupied Europe.
As Allied military forces advanced across Europe, they encountered and liberated Nazi concentration camps, mass graves, and shocking evidence of Nazi crimes against humanity. The Soviets were the first to encounter the camps in 1944 with the U.S., British, and Canadian Allied forces shortly thereafter in 1945. The horrific conditions the soldiers confronted were beyond anything they could have imagined.
General Eisenhower visited Ohrdruf concentration camp with General Omar Bradley and General George S. Patton. General Eisenhower wrote of his visit to this camp in a letter dated April 15, 1945, to General George C. Marshall:
“The things I saw beggar description… The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty, and bestiality, were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick… I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’.”
For additional information regarding the camps and the U.S. Army units recognized for liberating the camps, go to the following links.
* Warning, images and content found at the link(s) below may contain graphic material that could be disturbing to some people.
U.S. Center of Military History
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum links:
U.S. Army units/divisions recognized as camp liberators:
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