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Ray Buch photograph collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 1997.22

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    The collection consists of eight photographs and one copy print of the Mauthausen concentration camp near Vienna, Austria, at the time of liberation. The photographs were compiled by Ray Buch, a sergeant in the United States Army who assisted in overseeing the reburial of victims at Mauthausen after the war.
    creation:  1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Carol Foraker
    Collection Creator
    Raymond S. Buch
    Raymond (Ray) Buch (1920-2010) was born in New York City to Ukrainian immigrants, Ludwig (1893-1962) and Mary (nee Straub, 1896-1939) Buch, and was raised on a farm in New Jersey. Ray had four siblings: June (1925-c. 2005), Mary (b.1930), Gloria (1932-2002), and Francis (1934-2011). After completing high school, Ray worked as a construction carpenter until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1942. Ray’s construction background led to his assignment in the 11th Armored Division’s (AD) 56th Armored Engineer Battalion. He went through training in Louisiana and Texas before being deployed to Great Britain in September 1944. His unit arrived in France on December 16, 1944, and went into combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Ray was injured during this campaign, and was awarded the Purple Heart. The division continued across Europe to the Siegfried Line, the defensive line on the western border of Germany. The engineers were responsible for a variety of tasks to facilitate movement of the troops, including preparing roads, removing obstacles, building bridges, and clearing mines. Within the 2nd Platoon of Company A, Ray was one of the men who operated the mine detector equipment.

    In March 1945, the 11th AD entered the Rhineland campaign in Germany. In mid-April, Ray and his unit began encountering camp prisoners who were being force marched by SS guards. The guards fled, leaving behind a trail of corpses who died or were killed during the marches. Ray’s platoon was part of the 11th AD’s Combat Command A which was moving toward Linz, Austria. On May 5, they were removing dynamite from a bridge when Combat Command B liberated Mauthausen concentration camp and its former subcamp, Gusen. Ray and his platoon were still near Linz when Germany surrendered to the Allies. The war officially ended on May 9. The next day, Ray accompanied the bulldozer operators to Mauthausen to assist with the cleanup. While in the camp, Ray was able to film and photograph the scene, documenting the overcrowded barracks, the mass burials and the emaciated prisoners who were either clothed in rags or naked. The division was at Mauthausen for about 30 days before they were relieved by the 26th Infantry. Prior to their departure, the 11th began burning some of the buildings and backfilled the latrines and mass grave trenches.

    After Ray and his unit left Mauthausen, they were sent to Schwanenstadt to maintain roads and rebuild bridges. He also spent a few days guarding the prisoners in Ebensee, a former concentration camp converted to house SS prisoners, and was later sent to the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany. The division remained on occupation duty until they were inactivated on August 31, 1945

    Ray returned to New Jersey after the war and went to work as a home contractor. He married Mary Louise Stout (1928-2006) in April 1951, and the couple had two children. Ray led the New Jersey chapter of the 11th Armored Division Association, became a unit historian, and served as the association President in 1974.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Mauthausen (Austria)
    Personal Name
    Buch, Raymond S., 1920-

    Administrative Notes

    Carol Schillberg Foraker donated the collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:22:15
    This page:

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