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Forced burial of death march and concentration camp victims by German civilians; Russian POWs in a hospital; survivors at Buchenwald

Film | Digitized | Accession Number: 2011.124.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1327 | Film ID: 2921

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    Forced burial of death march and concentration camp victims by German civilians; Russian POWs in a hospital; survivors at Buchenwald


    (LIB 5968) Schwarzenfeld, Germany. LS of many coffins loaded onto horse-drawn carts. German civilians from Schwarzenfeld unload and carry the coffins, walking past rows of corpses. Many civilians dig graves in a fenced area. The remains of a striped uniform are visible on at least one of the bodies awaiting burial. Houses are visible in the background. The victims died while on one of several evacuation transports from Flossenbuerg, en route to Dachau. On April 16th, a transport of some 1700 Jewish prisoners left Flossenbuerg. Near Schwarzenfeld, their train was strafed and destroyed by Allied planes, killing some of the prisoners, and more were shot by the SS. An estimated 7,000 prisoners died while on evacuation transports from Flossenbuerg. Mass graves continued to be discovered in this area until the late 1950s. See Photo Archives worksheet 37292 for more information.

    02:17:07 (LIB 6210) Recklinghausen, Germany. POW camp for Germans. Lineup of German civilians in a fenced area. American investigator George Atlas and another investigator question the men in turn. 02:18:09 One of the investigators questions Willi Fabian, a former railroad official and staff member in the Rothensee concentration camp. Fabian was charged with mistreating laborers from Allied nations and was arrested on April 19, 1945 in Barleben Germany. Atlas and the other investigator continue to interrogate prisoners. When US Ninth Army troops captured the concentration camp for Soviet civilians located near Recklinghausen, Germany, they converted it into a separation center for prisoners of war and war criminals. After the first German prisoners arrived at the camp they were sent to the interrogation department, which was supervised by Captain Harold Puttfer and Lieutenant H. Goodman. The camp had three sections called "cages." One of these was for women, another for persons incarcerated for minor offenses, and the third for hardened criminals. All three sections were filled to capacity, totaling 20,000 prisoners. Identifications and historical information obtained from USHMM Photo Archives worksheets 82898 and 80919.

    02:18:58 (LIB 6259) May 3, 1945 Flossenbuerg. German civilians remove coffins from a brick building (barracks?) and load them onto an ox-drawn cart. The sides of the cart have been decorated/camouflaged with tree branches. The civilians lead the oxen out of the camp. 02:19:34 CU of the Arbeit macht Frei sign on the gate. The civilians unload the coffins within a fenced area for burial. Crowded around the fence are German civilians who are being forced by the American military to watch the burial. Young women toss flowers onto the coffins. A former prisoner (?) speaks to the crowd. Two army chaplains read bible verses over the coffins. CUs of some of the female onlookers - some are crying. Tec Sgt. James F. Flaha of the 97th Infantry Division band (identification from USHMM Photo Archives worksheet 06542) blows taps over the coffins.

    02:20:53 (LIB 6276) (See also 111 ADC 4618). Hamm, Germany. Sign posted on a tree reads Prov. PVX Hospital Hamm. Exterior of the hospital, followed by interior shots with very emaciated, ill-looking patients in hospital beds. One man has a sort of cage contraption over his abdomen. CU of a man wearing a striped prisoner uniform. This hospital was operated by the 666th Medical Collecting Company and the men are Soviet soldiers. Two of the men have tuberculosis.

    02:21:27 (LIB 6689) Volary, Czechoslovakia. Corpses lie in mass graves. German civilians exhume the corpses and lay them out on the ground in preparation for burial while other civilians arrange coffins in the background. One man dusts dirt off of face of a corpse. Men lay the corpses into coffins, then men, women, and children file past them. A group of US soldiers stands watching them. 02:22:52 a Jewish chaplain says Kaddish in front of the coffins and civilians. The setting is dramatic - the civilians are gathered below the chaplain and the coffins, overlooking a small valley with farmland. CUs of some of the civilians - mostly women, many wearing headscarves.

    02:23:19 (B 1220) Estedt, Germany. Two German civilians drive a horse-drawn cart containing corpses covered in white sheets. Men and boys dig graves for the corpses. The wagon bearing the corpses arrives at the burial site and men wearing black gloves unload the cart. 02:23:56 One of the men pulls up the uniformed sleeve of a corpse to show a tattoo (number A-7923 ?). CU of the corpse's face, which is quite decomposed. The corpses are lowered into the graves and the civilians shovel dirt on top of them. During a death march of Polish, Soviet, and Jewish prisoners from Mieste to Gardelegen, a number of prisoners escaped into the Zichtauer forest, where some of them were spotted by local farmers, who immediately alerted the police. The prisoners were captured and marched to a site near Estedt, where they were shot and buried in a mass grave.

    02:24:35 Excellent quality. Familiar high-angle shots of Buchenwald after liberation, showing prisoner barracks, moat, and guard towers. Survivors (?) sleep on straw in the sun. Familiar shots of corpses in front of building between two wreaths. A former prisoner and then an American GI with a camera walk by the pile. 02:25:08 Survivors sit around a memorial in the shape of an obelisk with the inscription K.L.B. 51,000 (concentration camp Buchenwald; 51,000 was the estimated number at the time of those killed at Buchenwald). This memorial was erected by the survivors within days of liberation. Allied flags hang over a sign in several languages that thanks the Allied soldiers on behalf of the Czech prisoners. Three survivors sit beneath another sign calling for "Death to the Nazi criminals!" Clear CUs of emaciated survivors. One of them wears a handkerchief on his head with the insignia of the Waffen SS (presumably to protect him from the sun). CUs of young survivors. One pumps up the tire of a bicycle. Former prisoners leave on medical trucks; others gather around, talking. CU of a man on a stretcher.
    Event:  1945
    Volary, Czechoslovakia
    Buchenwald, Germany
    Flossenbuerg, Germany
    Estedt, Germany
    Schwarzenfeld, Germany
    Recklinghausen, Germany
    Hamm, Germany
    Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration
    Producer: United States. Army. Signal Corps.

    Physical Details

    B&W / Color
    Black & White
    Image Quality
    Time Code
    02:16:22:00 to 02:26:17:00
    Film Format
    • Master
    • Master 2921 Video: Digital Betacam - NTSC - large
      Master 2921 Digital: MotionJPEG2000 - HD
      Master 2921 Video: Digital Betacam - NTSC - large
      Master 2921 Digital: MotionJPEG2000 - HD
      Master 2921 Video: Digital Betacam - NTSC - large
      Master 2921 Digital: MotionJPEG2000 - HD
      Master 2921 Video: Digital Betacam - NTSC - large
      Master 2921 Digital: MotionJPEG2000 - HD

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    You do not require further permission from the Museum to access this archival media.
    Public Domain
    Conditions on Use
    To the best of the Museum's knowledge, this material is in the public domain. You do not require further permission from the Museum to reproduce or use this material.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Film Provenance
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased the film excerpts from the National Archives and Records Administration in February 2011.
    Copied From
    Film Source
    United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Motion Picture Reference
    File Number
    Legacy Database File: 5528
    Source Archive Number: 342 USAF 13138 R1
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:43:35
    This page:

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