Skepticism on the Threshold of Atrocity
"When one explores the hall of memories, some moments cannot be forgotten or dimmed by the passage of time. I remember the day — clear and sunny — riding in a convoy into Eisenach, Germany, on April 11, 1945, as World War II was ending; and a 3rd Army courier delivering a message to us to continue on to a concentration camp (Buchenwald), 10 or more miles further east, near Weimar.
I was a reconnaissance sergeant, photographer, camoufleur and part-time historian in S-2 (Intelligence Section) of the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion. We were in the 8th Corps of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
And the Army issued an immediate order for any man within access to Buchenwald to go to it before anything was really moved. We spent about an hour and a half trying to find if we were going the direction by various MPs.
And we felt that this was a misrepresentation, that there was no such thing as a Buchenwald atrocity camp, as we had been shown in some indoctrination theater. So it had taken us about an hour to find the place. We thought maybe they were just fooling us again, and it would be not worth trying to find. Finally we found it. And as we approached the entrance, we looked at the outside. We said, 'Well, this place isn't what they said it was.'
And still I said, 'This place is nothing.' It looked almost like the federal penitentiary here in Atlanta from the outside as we approached it. And then as we turned in the gate, we saw a number of the small wooden structures that housed the prisoners. And I later found out that Buchenwald had been a correctional penitentiary, you might say, similar to the federal pen, prior to the confinement of prisoners of war, Jews, but mostly they were Jews there."