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Holocaust History: Concentration Camps

This LibGuide is a starting point for general research on the concentration camps, with resources on genocide, survivor memoirs, and primary sources.

Brief History

The Ohrdruf concentration camp, a subcamp of Buchenwald, was a Nazi forced labor and concentration camp built in Thuringia, Germany in November 1944. It was the first Nazi camp liberated by the United States Army.

In March 1945, there were close to 20,000 prisoners from the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungry, Belgium, Greece, Yugoslavia, and other countries imprisoned there. Prisoners slept in huts, stables, and in tents without beds. The prisoners were forced to construct railways leading to a proposed communication center, which never was never completed due to the United States advance. Workdays were 10 to 14 hours, involving strenuous labor building roads, railways, and tunnels. Prisoners who were unable to work were moved to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp or back to Buchenwald.

As the United States troops advanced towards Ohrdruf, the SS began evacuating almost all the prisoners on death marches to Buchenwald. The 4th Armored Division and the 89th Infantry of the Third United States Army liberated Ohrdruf on April 4, 1945. Appalled at what he saw, General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered documentation of the site and requested that journalists and members of Congress come there to see for themselves the heinous crimes the Nazis had committed.


The following summary derived information from the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library