Liberation Stories

For more information about the liberation of Ohrdruf, click here.

Richard (Dick) Colosimo (Edited by Walter C. Irla): Coleslaw (added 9/03)

This is but an abbreviated version of what indeed was an extraordinary and unique day at Ohrdruf for Walter and me. An infamous day that we shall never forget.

Fateful Steps Into History (added 8/03)

My name is Tom Cleary. I believe you know my father, Bob Cleary, a veteran of the 89th Infantry Division who has previously contacted you regarding the liberation of the Ohrdruf concentration camp. Over the years, I have tried to get my father to talk more publicly about his combat experiences, but like many veterans of "the greatest generation," he is reluctant to discuss this chapter of his life. He feels he did what was asked of him and served his country with honor - end of story.

Naturally, I am proud of his service and the history that was made in the process. As such, I have been quietly promoting my father's wartime exploits for three reasons: 1) to teach up and coming generations of the horrors that were inflicted by the Nazis on others; 2) remind people of the sacrifices that have been made by those who have served in the armed forces to defend freedom and oppose tyranny; and 3) give some credit to a modest old soldier. I would appreciate it if you could post the attached newspaper article on the 89th Infantry Division's website, under the section devoted to "Ohrdruf History.'

This story was published on the cover of the local section of the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 27, 2002 - Memorial Day.

Thank you, Tom Cleary

Ralph Craib: The Forgotten Death Camp (added 8/03)

Fifty years ago tomorrow, the 355th U.S. Infantry Regiment and the Fourth Armored Division unveiled to the world scenes of brutality and criminality that is still difficult to comprehend.

As a sergeant in the Second Infantry Battalion barely 20 years old, I had walked-and fought-over several hundred miles, from Luxembourg to eastern Germany, in the preceding months. Violent Death and devastation were not new to us, yet nothing prepared us for the horror of Ohrdruf Nord, the first of Adolph Hitler's death factories to be captured by the Allies.

A. Hirsch: Ohrdruf Remembered (added 4/02)

I next decided to walk along the length of the building and enter the first door I came to.  By this time guys from the other units were coming around to investigate, just as I was doing.  We went through a doorway that revealed a narrow hall.   The wall facing us had two furnace doors with the name of Benz cast into the forging.  Looking inside I saw only gray ash.  It was then that someone behind me said. "Hey, these furnaces are for cremating!"  It hit me like a clap of thunder.  I was stunned and realized the truth that this isn't a factory, this is a concentration camp!  Up to this moment there was nothing to give me the true identity of this place.  In shock I continued walking down the hallway not knowing what I would see or what to expect next.  The place I came to was a large yellow tiled room with showerheads high up on the walls. I realized that this room was the gas chamber and capable of holding at least fifty people.  The murdered victims of this room were cremated in the Benz f urnaces that we saw in the hallway just moments before.  The thought of so much mass murder, so many innocent lives being wasted was overwhelming.

Ralph Cole: Ohrdruf-North Stalag III (added 4/02)

April 4, 1945, the Fourth Armored Division and the 355th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division, part of General George Patton's famed Third U.S. Army, liberated the first death camp, Ohrdruf or North Stalag III, a sub camp of Buchenwald, located near Weimar.

Harold Mathews--Kahla Revisited, The Liberation of a Displaced Persons Camp (added 1/02)

Harold Mathews recounts the liberation of a slave labor camp and a German aircraft factory.

Bruce Nickols: The Story of an 89th Liberator

Fifty years have passed since this day but I recall my first impression of the camp called Ohrdruf which I found later was associated administratively with the camp called Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was named after the town of the same name, apparently locally famous for its history of being the place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of his works.

Holocaust--Confirmation and Some Retribution: Ralph Rush (added 2/01)

Ralph's firsthand account of the liberation of the Ohrdruf, the first concentration camp liberated by the western Allies.