Buchenwald: a reminder of Weimar’s somber past

Both Nazis and Soviets killed prisoners there


Miami Herald Staff Writer

BUCHENWALD, Germany — Its name can be translated as Beechwood Forest, and many majestic trees of this species still stand on the surrounding areas. But its history can’t be told without revulsion.

A visit to this notorious concentration camp is a must for anyone taking a trip to nearby Weimar, Europe’s Cultural Capital for 1999. Buchenwald not only was one of Hitler’s camps […] but from 1945 to 1950 it was Special Camp 2, used by Soviet police and occupation forces for the internment and ultimate death of Germans. The use of Buchenwald as a part of the Soviet gulag system was not publicly known until 1990, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of both Germanys.


Though rumors of Special Camp 2 had circulated through the years, its existence was largely unknown to the West until the collapse of East Germany in 1990. Between 1945 to 1950, more than 28,450 people were interned here. In February 1947, the Soviets started sending large convoys of prisoners to camps in the Soviet Union; their fate is unknown. But another 7,113 people died in Special Camp 2, according to Soviet data. Their bodies were buried in mass graves marked only with steel tubes intermingled among the beechwood trees.