U.S. Troops Liberate Buchenwald
Because of the efforts of a few prisoners in Buchenwald, most notably Polish engineer Gwidon Damazyn, a short-wave transmitter and small generator had been ‘organised’, built and hidden in a room in the camp. At midday on 8 April, whilst large-scale evacuations were taking place all around, Damazyn and Russian prisoner Konstantin Ivanovich Leonov sent a message prepared in Morse code by leaders of the camp’s resistance. It read:
‘To the Allies. To the army of General Patton. This is the Buchenwald concentration camp. SOS. We request help. They want to evacuate us. The SS wants to destroy us.’
The message was sent out in English, German and Russian and repeated several times. Some minutes later, the headquarters of the US Third Army responded with: ‘KZ Bu. Hold out. Rushing to your aid. Staff of Third Army.’ It is alleged that once Damazyn heard this news, he fainted.When news of the American response spread, Communist inmates stormed the watchtowers of the camp and killed the remaining Nazi guards, using arms they had secretly been storing since 1942.
On 11 April at 3:15pm, a small detachment of soldiers from the US 9th Armoured Infantry Battalion, from the US Third Army, arrived at the camp. Visitors to the former camp will notice that the clock tower at the entrance gate is permanently set to this time. The soldiers were met by the horrendous sight of thousands of dying, emaciated prisoners, but were given a hero’s welcome. Later in the day, other sub-camps of Buchenwald were liberated, and provisions of food, water and medical supplies were hastily arranged.