The 89th Infantry Division in World War II was the first unit to actually come upon a Nazi concentration camp. The discovery of the Ohrdruf camp, by the 89th Infantry Division, is memorialized in the Holocaust Museum located in Washington, DC. camp
Ohrdruf was a work camp, not an extermination camp, but the difference is difficult to discern. Prisoners were literally worked to death and disposed of by burning in incinerators, which was the most “cost-effective method”. As the Allies approached, panic set in for the guards. Those inmates who couldn’t walk were shot. Others were forced to march towards a “safe haven”, with most of them dying in the effort. It was a horrible and unbelievable scene which seared its way into one’s memory.
Almost 50 years after World War II ended, veterans of the 89th and their families visited France and Germany as part of our final “Tour of Remembrance.” Towards the end of the trip, we visited Ohrdruf and, to our surprise (although we had been forewarned) found nothing, absolutely nothing. All traces of it had disappeared. There is only a graveyard for POWs and a German Army Training Camp. It was like it never existed. But it did and we can testify to it personally. Most Germans today were not even born then but we pray that the German people never let future generations forget what a mad regime can do.