On April 12, 1945, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Generals Omar Bradley (12th Army Group CG) and Lt. General George S. Patton (3rd Army CG), visited Ohrdruf Nord, a sub-camp of Buchenwald [#3 above], and one of the first concentration camps liberated by American troops. Patton vomited. Bradley went mute. Eisenhower resolutely wanted to see and learn as much as possible. “Get it all on record now,” he said. “Get the film. Get the witnesses. Because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say this never happened.”

Eisenhower then ordered every nearby American soldier to likewise visit Ohrdruf. “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against.” Three days later, in his first letter home, Eisenhower wrote, “The other day I visited a German internment camp. I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world! It was horrible.”

Bodies stacked like cord wood

Bodies stacked like cord wood at Ohrdruf concentration camp. April 12, 1945

General Eisenhower never visited another concentration camp. On April 25th 1945, after journalists and some members of Congress had toured newly liberated Buchenwald, Eisenhower told them, “You saw only one camp yesterday. There are many others. Your responsibilities, I believe, extend into a great field, and informing the people at home of things like these atrocities is one of them… Nothing is covered up. We have nothing to conceal. The barbarous treatment these people received in the German concentration camps is almost unbelievable. I want you to see for yourself and be spokesmen for the United States.” [pages 774-5, Ike the Soldier: As they knew him” (G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York, 1987) by Merle Miller]

In his memoir, Crusade in Europe, Eisenhower later recalled: “The same day I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however, that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock…I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or the assumption that “the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.” . . .

I not only did so but as soon as I returned to . . . headquarters that evening, I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. “I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion to leave no room for cynical doubt.”

The document called German Concentration Camps, declassified in 1964, but written 20 years earlier in 1944 proves what America already knew. This pdf is stored at the FDR Library in New York and you can read it here. 

Sample pages from the declassified report