April 12, 1945- The Buchenwald concentration camp was founded in 1937 near the town of Weimar, Germany. Approximately 250,000 prisoners were incarcerated in this camp until its liberation in 1945. Weimar is a German city known for its highly cultured citizenry. It was the home of many of the upper class intellectual members of Europe’s society.
Among others, Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, and Bach lived in Weimar. Though technically not an extermination camp, approximately 56,000 prisoners were murdered in Buchenwald (not including many others who died after being transferred to other extermination camps). They died from vicious medical experiments, summary executions, torture, beatings, starvation, and inhuman work conditions. The camp was also known for its brutality. German officers would force inmates to eat their meager soup ration off the mud on the ground; would keep them standing in the cold until they froze to death; and they would even use skin of dead inmates to make lamp shades.
On the 29th of Nisan 1945 the Sixth Armored Division of the United States Third Army liberated the camp. Among the more famous inmates who spent time in Buchenwald are Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel. Elie Wiesel, who went on to write stirring accounts of the Holocaust, for which he earned the Nobel Peace Prize, was also an inmate at Buchenwald. Toward the end of the war, the Nazis evacuated inmates from Buchenwald to Flossenberg, where they were liberated.