The Liberation of Ohrdruf
In April of 1045, American troops of the 4th Armored Division of the 3rd Army were the first of the American troops to discover a concentration camp. This camp was called Ohrdruf and was a subcamp of Buchenwald, a larger camp in the area.1 In the late of 1944, around 10,000 prisoners were being housed in this camp, and another 10,000 would be sent by March of 1945. The camp consisted of mainly Russians, Poles, and Hungarian Jews, as well as smaller numbers of other groups from around Europe. Work days were initially 10 to 11 hours, but were increased to 14 later on. The prisoners were used to construct roads, railways, and tunnels.2 Knowledge of what the Germans were doing to the Jews and other people was well known among the Allies; however, the liberation of Ohrdruf was the first real experience the Americans had with the Nazi concentration camps.
Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allies, said that the crimes committed at Ohrdruf made a powerful impact on him. He wanted to bring members of Congress and journalists out to the camp so that they may witness the atrocities that happened at the camp.3 It even left a powerful mark on General Patton. When recounting his experience with the camp and the Nazi attempt to burn the remaining bodies, he states, “[t]hey were not very successful in their operations because there was a pile of human bones, skulls, charred torsos on or under the griddle which must have accounted for many hundreds.”4
Troops from the 4th Armored Division of the 3rd Army
looking over the dead bodes of the camp victims
There is no doubt that this atrocity committed by the Nazis, and what the soldiers and commanders of the American troops must have felt when bringing themselves to witness the Nazi’s final solution to the Jewish problem.
 “U.S. Policy During WWII: U.S. Army & the Holocaust.” Jewish Virtual Library. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/usarmy_holo.html>.
 “3 – Gedenkstätte Buchenwald.” 3 – Gedenkstätte Buchenwald. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <http://www.buchenwald.de/563/>.
 ”Ohrdruf.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10006131>.
Ohrdruf – Photograph. Digital image. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/media_ph.php?ModuleId=10006131&MediaId=3718>.