A Funeral in Lehnstedt

On this Sunday, 6 May 1945, two days before the end of the war, 350 persons gathered on the periphery of Lehnstedt near Weimar for a funeral. As the mayor and local farmers’ leader had announced to the village inhabitants in a public notice, participation en bloc would be seen as proof that the population was not complicit in the crimes committed by the “SS beasts”. The attendance was high.

Four weeks earlier, on 7 April, inmates of a death march from the Buchenwald concentration camp had spent the night in a barn in the town. They received neither water nor bread, nor did the SS or local Nazis permit any other act of sympathy. During the night, the SS fired shots into the overcrowded barn. Then they had the 16 victims, mostly Jews, hastily buried in a neighbouring field.

Liberated Buchenwald inmates who came to the village in early May demanded the dead be disinterred, identified and laid to rest with dignity. Ten well-known village Nazis were compelled to do the work.

(Harry Stein)

Reference: Katrin Greiser, Die Todesmärsche von Buchenwald: Räumung, Befreiung und Spuren der Erinnerung, Göttingen 2008.