- German soldiers pause for a moment of silence at the mass funeral on the palace grounds of the Archduke of Mecklenburg in Ludwigslust, where the townspeople were forced by U.S. troops to bury the bodies of prisoners killed in the Woebbelin concentration camp.
The original Signal Corps caption (from copy from Ron Leidelmeyer) reads, "NEW NAZI HORROR CAMP DISCOVERED. One of the worst Nazi concentration camps uncovered by Allied troops was liberated at Wobbelin, Germany, a small town five miles north of Ludwigslust and 90 miles northwest of Berlin. Soldiers of three Allied units -- the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division, the Eighth Infantry Division of the Ninth U.S. Army and airborne troops of the Second British Army -- entered the camp and found sick, starving inmates barely surviving under indescribable conditions of filth and squalor. They found hundreds of dead prisoners in one of the buildings while outside, in a yard, hundreds more were found hastily buried in huge pits. One mass grave contained 300 emaciated, disfigured corpses. The dead included Poles, Russians, Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen and Germans, all of whom had been working as slave laborers for the Nazis.
It is estimated that at least 150 of the original 4,000 prisoners succumbed daily, mostly from starvation and savage treatment at the hands of Nazi SS troops who operated the camp. Some of the bodies found were burned almost beyond recognition and systematic torture of the inmates was revealed by the physical condition of most of the survivors. Military Government officers immediately ordered leading citizens of nearby Ludwigslust and other towns to march through the camp and witness the atrocities committed by representatives of the German Government. Most of the civilians disclaimed any knowledge of the camp's existence despite the fact that many of the prisoners worked in the area.
The local residents later were made to exhume the bodies from the mass graves at the camp and provide decent, respectable interment of all dead prisoners. Two hundred were buried in the public square of Ludwigslust May 7, 1945, and an equal number were buried in the garden of the highest Nazi official of Hagenow. Eighty more were laid to rest in the town of Schwerin.
BIPPA EA 66633
THIS PHOTO SHOWS: German soldiers stand bareheaded at the graves of these victims of German cruelty. In the background, soldiers of the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division witness the burial proceedings at Ludwigslust. U.S. Signal Corps Photo ETO-HQ-45-46088.
SERVICED BY LONDON OWI TO LIST B
CERTIFIED AS PASSED BY SHAEF CENSOR
1945 May 07
- Ludwigslust, [Mecklenburg] Germany
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
- Event History
- Woebbelin, a sub-camp of Neuengamme, was captured by British and American troops on May 4, 1945. Upon entering the camp, the liberators discovered nearly 4,000 prisoners, one-quarter of whom were already dead. Outraged by what they found, the ranking Allied commanders in the area forced civilians from the nearby towns of Schwerin, Hagenow, and Ludwigslust to view the concentration camp and then bury the bodies of prisoners in their towns. Approximately 200 bodies were buried in Ludwigslust on the grounds of the palace of the Archduke of Mecklenburg. A somewhat smaller number were buried in the garden of the leading Nazi official in Hagenow and 80 bodies were interred in Schwerin. Every fourth grave was marked at each site with a Star of David in honor of the unidentified Jewish dead.