January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, a day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp was one of the largest in Germany. Between April 1938 and April 1945, some 238,380 people of various nationalities including 350 Western Allied prisoners of war were incarcerated there. One estimate places the number of deaths at more than 56,000. Although Buchenwald was not an extermination camp as such, and did not have gas chambers and large crematoria, inmates were killed through starvation, forced labour, medical experiments, lethal injections, and hangings.
Towards the end of the war, as the Red Army advanced from the east, overcrowding at Buchenwald increased with a tide of prisoners evacuated from camps like Auschwitz and Dachau. Thousands died in the last months of the camp’s operation due to lack of food and water, and because of the sheer number of individuals interned behind the barbed wire, which increased and facilitated the spread of disease.
Denbighshire Archives holds a graphic but restrained and objective report on conditions at Buchenwald Camp shortly after its liberation by American troops. The report was produced by an all -party Parliamentary delegation which included Sir Henry Morris-Jones, MP for West Denbighshire, who has signed this copy (April 1945). This week (27th-31st Jan 2014) we have a small exhibition on display including the report at our office in Ruthin. Click on images below to enlarge.