THIRD U.S. ARMY DISCOVERS NAZI ATROCITY
When U.S. troops of the 26th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army, captured Schwarzenfeld, Germany April 22, 1945, another story of Nazi murder and atrocity was revealed. The Americans discovered that many hundreds of helpless persons, including Allied prisoners-of-war and Polish Jewish slave laborers, had been shot in cold blood by Nazi SS troops, and their bodies thrown into a mass grave. The executions took place one day before the American forces captured the town. After making official record of the circumstances, U.S. Military Government officers ordered local German civilians to exhume the bodies and provide coffins and a civilized burial for the victims. Schwarzenfeld is 47 miles east of Nuremburg and 28 miles west of the Czechoslovakian border.
The original blogger wrote this:
Seven days after American soldiers first stumbled on to the massacre at Ohrdruf, they liberated twenty thousand concentration camp internees at Buchenwald. Five days after that the British freed forty thousand prisoners from Bergen-Belsen.
Those two events overshadowed some of the other atrocities uncovered by Allied soldiers in the days afterwards. In one, over a thousand men were burned to death in Gardelegen, Germany on April 13th, two day before troops from the 102nd Infantry moved into that town.
A similar incident took place in Schwarzenfeld, Germany on April 21st, again just before that town was captured by American soldiers. In any other war, at any other time, the discovery of hundreds of executed prisoners, including prisoners-of-war in a freshly dug mass grave would have been front page news. In the Germany of 1945, it was just more of the same. What notice there was of the Gardelegen and Schwarzenfeld atrocities quickly evaporated.
For the victims of Gardelegen, there is at least some remembrance. It’s a different matter entirely when it comes to those murdered at Schwarzenfeld There’s nothing on the Net about the Schwarzenfeld graves, and the Holocaust survivor memoirs I’ve found mentioning the town only do so in passing.
The Ohrdruf pictures posted earlier may have been unseen for sixty years, but they at least depicted scenes that were known from other photographs, scenes that anyone with interest and a browser could have found.
No such pictures exist on the Net of the Schwarzenfeld killings, or of the camp at Schwabmunchen, the subject of the next post in this series. The mere mention of either is almost as scarce.
Which is the whole point of these posts. In the years to come, information not on the Net might was well not exist. There may be more information about the deaths at Schwarzenfeld available offline, though I haven’t found it in any of the libraries at UNC, and if it was important to anyone, it would have been posted long ago.
A few hundred dead in one small German town is just a drop in the ocean of millions that died in World War II, but their deaths deserve what memory we can give them nonetheless.