Flossenburg Concentration Camp: Liberation Anniversary.

This week marks the 66th anniversary of the Liberation of the Flossenburg Concentration Camp, during World War II.  In late April 1945, members of Patton’s Third Army, specifically advance units from the 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions, liberated the facility.  Even these battle-hardened GIs would never forget what they witnessed.

The Flossenburg Concentration Camp was constructed in May 1938, east of Nuremburg, near the Czech border.  In its seven years of operation, prisoners would run the gamut, from GIs to Eastern Europeans, from Poles to political dissidents, from homosexuals to, of course, Jews.  By the time of its liberation, some 30,000 plus would die at Flossenburg.

In his book, BOOTPRINTS, Hobert Winebrenner, a member of the 90th Infantry Division‘s 358th Infantry Regiment, aptly described his feelings upon entering Flossenburg.  “It stung in that there had been days, although few and far between, when I’d actually felt sorry for the Krauts—like those anti-aircraft gunners at Mainz, literally burned alive,” he wrote. “But as we moved farther east and continued to unmask the Nazi prison and labor camps, my heart soured. After witnessing the carnage at Flossenburg, I raged with hate.  I still find myself at a loss for words to describe it.  Terms like ‘war crimes’ or ‘atrocities’ fall short. They’re too sterile, too bookish when compared to the ghastly sights, sounds and smells of that place. Although words must suffice, they’ll never do it justice. Words don’t make you retch or reel away or cover your nose and mouth, but Flossenburg did.

View looking down into Flossenburg Concentration Camp - April 1945. (U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo, Courtesy National Archives)

“I viewed the ovens, the bleak housing, the despicable sanitation system, the dead and perhaps worst of all, the living. I saw stacks of corpses. Apparently, the crematorium couldn’t keep up with the brisk pace of death. Those who survived looked like living skeletons, dead men walking.

” … It was humanity at its worse, and I saw enough to last me a lifetime. But sadly, the Flossenburg facility was not where the story ended. With word of our imminent assault, camp guards and officials fled the grounds, force-marching over 10,000 inmates southeast.”

On Thursday, we’ll return to the Flossenburg Concentration Camp to take a closer look at those who suffered so mightily–the inmates.  We’ll also examine the Camp’s final days, the forced march and the subsequent war-crimes trials.  Please join us.

2 Responses to “Flossenburg Concentration Camp: Liberation Anniversary”

  1. milton s boule says:

    97 inf 303 reg 2bt co g i and my squad walked through the gate of flossenburgh concentration late april 1945. i dont know the exate date but we were the first after the ss troops left,the gates were open in and out and not a mouse in sight.we waited in place until our officers investagated then we moved on.officers and men were left to take care of the prisoners.

  2. Colleen Sullivan says:

    My Dad, George V. Murphy was in the 97th Infantry during WWII…he used to tell us he drove General Patton’s jeep….are there any 97th Infantry guys reading this? Love to know if you knew my Dad.

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