This afternoon I received a translation of a German letter of support for the American Liberators’ Memorial project in Buchenwald. It was sent to the German press. The letter is unique. It is from Germans to Germans.
The proposed Buchenwald Memorial is deliberately designed to be simple, with minimal text to avoid historical quarreling. The central interpretive element is the iconic image of American soldiers entering Buchenwald.
The project is proposed and sponsored by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. The Buchenwald Foundation and Commission will review the proposal on July 3. If approved, it will be dedicated, April 2020.
It has been 75 years and no memorial by anyone has ever been done. It is ironic that a Jewish effort is the first ever to propose a memorial honoring the American Liberators of the Nazi horror camp of Buchenwald.
Buchenwald was not set up as a Jewish death camp. It was a Concentration Camp of Death for anyone the Nazis hated. There are 44 memorials in Thuringia for the Russians – 0 for the Americans. While the GDR (the German Democratic Republic) controlled East Germany, the narrative was the Communists liberated Buchenwald. The Communists also ran Buchenwald on the inside for the Nazis.
There are modest plaques in Dachau, and Mauthausen for the American liberators.
There is no assurance the Germans will approve the memorial.
Buchenwald Foundation website https://www.buchenwald.de/en/1066/
Foundation Director, Prof Dr. Volkhard Knigge Phone: +49 (0)3643 430 130
From Germans to Germans – the importance of memory and Buchenwald.
The Verein der Natur- und Heimatfreunde Niederzimmern e.V. has been dealing with the events surrounding the end of the war in April and May 1945, among other things, for a long time within the framework of its work on local and regional history.
One focus of this work is to emphasize the importance of the role of the U.S. Army in the liberation of the Weimar region and to give it the appropriate place in the consciousness of the population.
The historiography of the former GDR, in particular, has systematically and consistently suppressed the fact that Thuringia was liberated from Nazi rule by American soldiers. Unfortunately, this is still affecting today.
With this aim in mind, our association launched the ” Liberty Convoy” project to commemorate 70 years of liberation in 2015, which has since become a community of interests. In 2016 we organized a Living History Day with the same objective, which met with considerable, positive public interest.
As part of a documentary project to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in our region, we are producing a film documentary supported by the Thuringian State Chancellery entitled ” Die letzten Augenzeugen (The Last Eyewitnesses) “. It will be released in April 2020.
From April 3 to 5, 2020, we plan to conduct another “Liberty Convoy” with historical vehicles, uniforms, and equipment of the U.S. Army from that time.
The aim is to pay tribute to the role played by the American armed forces in the liberation from Nazi terror on the anniversary when the increasingly rare opportunity to speak to veterans and contemporary witnesses still exists.
Against this background, we are very pleased with the initiative of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation with its president Mr. Jerry Klinger and with encouragement from the Eisenhower Institute to erect a monument for the American liberators of the Buchenwald concentration camp. It is proposed to be dedicated for the 75th anniversary.
We see this as an important and long overdue contribution to an honest and appropriate culture of remembrance at this place. Buchenwald is steeped in history for Americans and Germans alike.
We plan to support this important project materially. We are asking our association members and friends for donations to help make the American Liberators’ Memorial at Buchenwald a reality.
Verein der Natur- und Heimatfreunde Niederzimmern e.V.
Member of the Board