Captain, United States Army Air Corps, 9th Air Force, XIXth Tactical Air Command, 312th Fighter Control Squadron
APRIL 12, 1945 WEIMAR, GERMANY
The moon hangs low over Buchenwald tonight; the sky is starry; the air is warm. There is a ring around the moon—a very deep orange-colored ring which could easily pass for red. To those of us who toured Konzentrationslager Buchenwald this afternoon, it is definitely red—as red as the blood which flowed from the human veins of its miserable internees. God knows enough blood has gushed down its large concrete trough—to be blotted up by the dry earth within the electricallycharged barbed wire confines of this diabolical camp.
Somewhat vaguely, I recall the barbarous cruelties and atrocities related in the volumes of ancient history. How far removed they seemed—deeds of centuries ago; deeds of uncivilizedness; small unpleasantries which inevitably accompany the transformation of a world! Could such a thing take place today? Impossible! Except maybe on some undiscovered cannibal-infested island. Even then death would be more or less a speedy procedure—a head whacked off suddenly or a quick plunge into boiling oil.
Until today, thus ran my thought. But I toured Buchenwald, the day after our unit liberated it. It was still “in the raw.” Go with me now on the same eerie Tour of Horror.
Weimar, Germany, is a fair-sized city 130 miles southwest of Berlin. A good highway leads out of Weimar to the concentration camp, and our jeep made the four or five miles in a few minutes. A huge factory, completely bombed, flitted by and the wire enclosure of Buchenwald loomed ahead. As we stepped inside the main gate and scanned the square mile of camp area, wondering which way to turn, one of the internees approached and asked in amazingly good English whether we wanted a guide. Of course, we welcomed his offer.
Our guide's name was Reinhold Schienhelm. He was a native of Lorraine, France; age thirty-eight; Konzentrationslager Number 42588; reason for internment—espionage and pro-Ally sentiments (actually, he was a telegraph operator who refused to work for the Nazis); civilian occupation—seaman; traveled widely—spent some time in the United States; date of internment—September 1942. He spoke freely about what he knew, readily answering all my questions. When he mentioned things which seemed incredible, I cross-examined him to see whether