What presidents were in military american
Buchenwald commemoration: Jorge Semprun's speech in full
On April 11, 1945 - that is, sixty-five years ago - an American army jeep drove to the entrance of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Two men jumped down. Not much is known about either of them. The documents available hardly explain anything. What is certain is that it is a civilian. But: why was he there, in the vanguard of the Sixth Armored Division of the North American military under the leadership of General Patton? What is his job? What is his job? Maybe he is a journalist? Or, probably more likely, is he an expert or civil adviser to a military intelligence and reconnaissance service? One does not know.
In any case, at five o'clock in the afternoon on a memorable day, he is standing in front of the monumental entrance gate of the concentration camp. He stands there, accompanying the second man in the jeep.
His identity is known: he is a lieutenant, more than that, a lieutenant colonel, a military reconnaissance officer assigned to the psychological warfare of General Omar N. Bradley's staff.
We don't know what the two Americans thought when they jumped down from the jeep and looked at the inscription in wrought-iron letters over the Buchenwald lattice gate: EVERYONE'S HIS ITS.
We do not know if they had time to at least glimpse the full extent of this criminal and arrogant cynicism. A sentence that refers to the equality of people, which stands at the entrance of a concentration camp, this deadly place, this place where only the completely arbitrary and most brutal injustice was practiced, where there was only one equality for the deportees: equality before death.
The same cynicism can be found in the sentence above the entrance gate to Auschwitz: WORK MAKES YOU FREE. A cynicism that was absolutely characteristic of Nazi sentiment.
We do not know what the two Americans thought at any historical moment. But we know very well that they were greeted with cheers and applause by the armed deportees who were on guard at the entrance to Buchenwald. We know they were celebrated like liberators. And indeed they were.
We don't know what they thought, we hardly know anything about their biographies, their personal history, we don't know their likes or dislikes, we don't know anything about their family environment, not even about their years of study, if they have had them.
But we know their names. The civilian's name is Egon W. Fleck and Lieutenant Colonel Edward A. Tenenbaum.
Here, on the roll call square of Buchenwald, sixty-five years later, in this dramatic square, let's repeat these two forgotten and great names: Fleck and Tenenbaum.
Here, where the throaty, gruff, aggressive voice of the Rapportführer echoed, every day of every week, where he issued orders and insults; here, where on some Sunday afternoons the sensual and warm voice of Zarah Leander could also be heard through the loudspeaker system with her constant love slogans, here we want to be loud, as loud as possible, and if we had to scream, repeat these two names. Egon W. Fleck and Edward A. Tenenbaum.
And this is now the wonderful irony of history, an incredibly significant revenge in history: the first two Americans to come to the entrance of Buchenwald with the liberation army on April 11, 1945, are two Jewish men. And as if that weren't enough: they are two American Jews of German origin who emigrated not so long ago.
We know, but it is not pointless to repeat this fact, that in the imperialist war of aggression which National Socialism started in 1939 and which aimed at creating totalitarian supremacy in Europe and perhaps even in the whole world, we know that there was an eminently important, one essential intention in this war: to continuously and consistently exterminate the Jewish people, an insane yet priority project that was one of Hitler's war aims.
Without making a secret of it or making any concessions to any moral restrictions, racial anti-Semitism formed part of the genetic code of the ideology of Nazism, and it has been since Hitler's first writings, since his very first political activities.
For the so-called “final solution” of the Jewish question in Europe, Nazism organized the systematic extermination in the archipelago of the special camps of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Poland.
Buchenwald is not part of the said archipelago. It is not a direct extermination camp, with the continuous segregation and dispatch of prisoners to the gas chambers. It is a forced labor camp with no gas chambers. The death in Buchenwald is the natural and predictable result of the extremely harsh working conditions, the systematic malnutrition.
As a result, Buchenwald is a JUDEN PURE camp.
However, due to specific historical causes, Buchenwald knows two different stages of massive presence of Jewish deportees.
One of these stages falls in the first years of the camp's existence, when after the Kristallnacht and the general pogrom, personally organized by Hitler and Goebbels in November 1938, thousands of Jews, especially those from Frankfurt, were sent to Buchenwald.
In 1944 the veteran German communists still remembered the murderous brutality with which these Jews from Frankfurt were underhanded and murdered en masse. The survivors were then deported to the extermination camps in the east.
The second stage of the Jewish presence in Buchenwald falls in 1945, towards the end of the war, specifically in the months of February and March. At that time tens of thousands of Jewish survivors were evacuated from the camps in the east to Central Germany on the orders of the SS because of the advance of the Red Army.
Thousands of emaciated deportees came to Buchenwald - including Sinti and Roma - were brought here under inhumane conditions, in the middle of winter, from distant Poland. Many died during this endlessly long journey. Those who could still reach Buchenwald, the already overcrowded camp at that time, were housed in the barracks of the quarantine camp, in the SMALL CAMP, or in tents and
Camps that were set up specifically for their makeshift housing.
Among these thousands of Jews who came to Buchenwald at that time and who gave us direct information that gave us a living and bloody testimony to the industrially carried out and brutally rationalized mass extermination in the gas chambers, there were many children and young people among these thousands of Jews .
The clandestine anti-fascist organization of Buchenwald made it possible for these Jewish children and young people who had survived Auschwitz to receive a little help. Not much, and yet it was extremely risky: it was an important gesture of solidarity, of brotherhood.
Among these Jewish adolescents was Elie Wiesel, the future Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Among them was Imre Kertesz, the future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
When President Barack Obama visited Buchenwald a few months ago, Elie Wiesel, now a North American citizen, accompanied him. One can assume that Wiesel took this opportunity to inform the President of the United States about the experience of that indelible past, about his personal experiences as a Jewish youth in Buchenwald.
In any case, it seems appropriate to me, at this solemn moment, in this historical place, to remember the experience of those Jewish children and young people, survivors of Auschwitz, the last circle of Nazi hell. To remember those who became known for their literary talents and their public activities, such as Imre Kertesz and Elie Wiesel, as well as those who have gone down as simple heroes in the anonymity of history.
Nor is this a bad time to emphasize a fact that is inevitably looming on the horizon of our future.
I said it five years ago in the National Theater in Weimar: the longest lasting memory of the Nazi camps will be the Jewish memory. And this for its part - as described - will not be limited to the experiences of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Since January 1945, in view of the advance of the Soviet Army, as I have already said, thousands upon thousands of deported Jews have been evacuated to the concentration camps of Central Germany.
It is therefore possible that a global image of annihilation will persist in the memory of Jewish children and adolescents who will surely survive 2015: a universalistic reflection is possible and, I believe, also desirable: in this sense it is incumbent on it Jewish memory has a great responsibility: for the next ten years all European memories of the resistance and the suffering suffered have only the Jewish memory of annihilation as the last refuge and bulwark against oblivion. It is the oldest memory of that life, since it was the very recent experience of death.
But let's go back to that April 11, 1945 for a moment. Let us return to the moment when Egon W. Fleck and Edward A. Tenenbaum brought their jeep to a halt in front of the Buchenwald gate.
If I were many years younger, I would probably begin a historical investigation now, a novel-like exploration of those two people, an investigation that would open the way to a book about that April 11th more than half a century ago, a literary one Work in which fiction and reality would mutually support and enrich one another.
But I don't have time for such an adventure.
I will therefore limit myself to recalling a few sentences from the preliminary report which Fleck and Tenenbaum wrote two weeks later, on April 24 to be precise, for their military superiors, and which can be found in the national archives of the United States.
When we turn into the large access road - so write the two Americans - we saw thousands of men, dressed in rags and emaciated, marching east in disciplined formations. These men were armed and had superiors who surrounded them. Some departments carried German rifles, others had "bazookas" hanging over their shoulders. They laughed and made gestures of angry glee as they walked on ... These were the Buchenwald deportees who set out to fight as our tanks overtook them at 50 kilometers per hour.
This "preliminary report" is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost because the two Americans, impartial witnesses, clearly describe the reality of the armed uprising organized by the anti-fascist resistance in Buchenwald - and which led to many polemics during the Cold War years.
Most importantly, at least for me, because of the human and literary point of view, there is one word in this report: the German word "Panzerfaust".
Fleck and Tenenbaum do indeed write their report in English, of course. But when they refer to the individual weapon that can be aimed against a tank, which is called "Bazooka" in almost every language in the world, and it is definitely called that in English, they resort to the German word.
This suggests to me that Fleck and Tenenbaum, the civilian and the military, are Americans of younger German descent. And so begins a new chapter in the novel-like exploration that I would like to begin.
But there is another, very personal reason why the term “bazooka”, literally the fist against the tank, is so important to me. On that April 11, 1945, I was in the column of armed men who were angry and happy. I was one of the "bazooka" carriers.
Deportee 44904, the red triangle on his chest and the letter "S", for Spaniards, printed on a black background. This Spaniard was me in the midst of the jubilant bearers of bazookas or bazookas.
Today, so many years later, in this dramatic space, the roll call area of Buchenwald, at the last frontier of a life of shattered certainties and illusions that I have preserved against wind and weather, allow me a serene, serene and fraternal memory of that young man who held a bazooka in his hands at the age of 22.
Thank you for your attention.
(translated by Michi Strausfeld)
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