Air Raid

On 9 February 1945, the U.S. Air Force attacked the armaments works to the north of Weimar. Yet hundreds of people also died in the town. The parent factory of the “Gustloff Stiftung” – comprising a branch operation in Buchenwald, an arms factory and a machine tool factory – was the target. Eight in ten bombs fell there in extremely confined spaces.

Directly adjacent to the factory was a Buchenwald subcamp with more than 2,000 inmates. The company management forced them to keep working even after the air raid alarm had sounded. They were permitted to seek shelter only after the bombs had hit. The wooden buildings of the two barrack camps, where the night shift was resting, were completely destroyed. The inmate death toll during the attack was 356; others succumbed to their severe injuries in the days that followed. The dead included men from 13 European countries, including Raphaël Elizé, France’s first black mayor and a member of the Résistance.

(Harry Stein)


Reference: Association Passé Simple (ed.), Raphaël Elizé (1891–1945): Premier maire de coleur de la France métropolitaine, Brissac-Quincé 2010.