University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Images of Buchenwald

Images from Buchenwald from Cyril John Corrigan Minnesota GI, born in St. Paul

Statement from Cyril John Corrigan on what he saw at Buchenwald (In his own words)

“Still lots of former inmates living there until they could be sent home. There had been several thousand there. I don't know how to describe adequately how horrible it was. When the American troops overran the place, most of the S.S. troop guards scrammed. Those who didn't are there yet (permanently) or were captured. Many of the inmates (every country of Europe was represented including Germany) were so far gone in malnutrition (nearly all prisoners suffered from it) that they died even though they were freed by our troops. We saw their skin and bones (about all that was left of them) piled up like wood, waiting to be buried. We also saw the four big incinerators where the S.S. troops had cremated those who died or were killed (often several hundred a day). There were the remains of some incompletely cremated bodies still in the ovens. Out in the yard was a pile of bones (that hadn't been buried I guess) about as big as the pile a ton of coal makes. We saw, too, the laboratory where doctors experimented on prisoners with typhus germs and phosphorus burns - I understand that the results were usually fatal to the experimentees! The so-called hospital they had for those prisoners too sick to work (and that meant practically dead) was a single floored wooden hut about 15 x 30 yards. Inside were shelves about 6 feet deep and maybe 3 feet apart. That made about 4 shelves up to the ceiling counting the one that was on the floor. One section of shelf, about 6 or 7 feet long was for 5 (count 'em) patients. The T. B. action was right in the middle of one side - Even when we got there, the place still smelled like the poultry barns at the State Fair and was not nearly so well ventilated. The guards being fanatical Nazis (S.S. Troops) beat the prisoners for any or no cause. Those marked for death were beaten, hung or shot to death. As a nice final touch, to top all this that I've told you, is the Commandant's wife. She had a hobby of making things. She made lampshades and such knickknacks from the skin of prisoners who had nice tattoos! I've been pretty well convinced that the Nazis are monsters, but that is about the last straw. This might seem sorta fantastic to you but this isn't just something I've heard about or read about. I actually saw all this myself and talked to some of the prisoners who could speak English and/or French.”

“Canteen check - one of the prisoners (Prague) gave it to me - he said they got these instead of money but there was so little they could buy at the canteen that it was just a joke. Anyway, you've got the whole story here and not a very nice story it is either"

Motto of Buchenwald : "In through the gate, and out through the chimney" (the incinerators, of course)

Cyril John Corrigan was born Jan 16, 1920, at 2032 Ashland Ave, St. Paul and died in 2003.

Related Site

Photos from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp at Weimar Germany taken by Members of the 45th Evac Hospital 1st Army