The War: Nebraska Stories
9 of 12

The Horrors of War:
Concentration Camps


German storm troopers force Jewish people from the Warsaw ghetto to move with their hands up. Warsaw Ghetto — May, 1943. From The Stroop Report: The Warsaw Ghetto is No More.
Courtesy The Holocaust History Project
One horrible by-product of war is that crimes against humanity sometimes occur away from the battlefields. A very sad example was the creation of concentration camps by Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist political party. Racist, nationalistic, imperialistic, anti-communist, and militaristic, the "Nazis" claimed that Jewish people were members of an "inferior race".

Between 1933 and 1945,
the Nazis murdered approximately 6 million Jews.
This devastation became known as the Holocaust.

Zyklon B gas
Zyklon B, one type of lethal gas used by the Nazis to murder people in concentration camps.
Courtesy Thomas J. Dodd Papers
concentration camp
Long provided this photo of concentration camp victims lining up to receive clean, new clothes after the Allies liberated their camp.
Courtesy Roy Long
Roy Long
Roy Long, First Lieutenant, 66th Infantry, 71st Division helped liberate some of the camps.
Courtesy Roy Long
In order to accomplish this horrible task more "efficiently", the Germans shipped Jews (and other "undesirables", such as Gypsies or disabled people) to concentration camps. Here, killing was carried out in systematic ways, mostly with poison gas.

The Allies declared Victory in Europe (V-E Day) on May 8, 1945. Nebraskan Roy Long was one of the troops who helped liberate the Concentration Camps.
An NET Television’s THE WAR: NEBRASKA STORIES interstitial. Courtesy 2007 NET Foundation for Television

orphan from concentration camp
Six-year-old war orphan with Buchenwald badge on his sleeve. June 19, 1945.
Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration, 531302
Roger Peters
Roger Peters served in Germany when the camps were liberated. Corporal, Technician 5th Grade, 1143rd Engineer Combat Group.
Courtesy Roger Peters
The conditions in the camps were terrible. The prisoners had been starved, were often physically harmed, and suffered from disease due to neglect — no heat, no water for bathing, no health care, etc. It was a difficult sight for U.S. soldiers who helped liberate the camps.

When Nebraskan soldier Roger Peters had a small accident with a motor scooter in Germany after the Allied victory, he came across an ex-detainee of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and discovered a new meaning for the word, Freedom.
An NET Television’s THE WAR: NEBRASKA STORIES interstitial. Courtesy 2007 NET Foundation for Television

map of concentration camps in Europe
Map of German concentration camps in Europe during World War II, United States War Department, 1945.
Courtesy Library of Congress, g5701s ct003445, & NET Learning Services
There were hundreds of concentration camps created by the Germans to house "undesirables". This map shows the location of the major camps, including the Gunskirken Lager concentration camp in Austria that Roy Long helped to liberate and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany near where Roger Peters found a helping hand.

For More Information within Nebraska Studies:
On the Home Front: Propaganda

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