In Yalta, a Soviet bathing resort on the Crimean Peninsula, the heads of government of the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom gathered for a closing group photo. Over the previous eight days, the “Big Three” had forged their anti-Hitler coalition plans for the period after victory over Nazi Germany. The future of Germany, its division into occupied zones, a basic outline of Europe’s post-war order and the establishment of the United Nations had all been on the agenda – decisions that, months later, would also influence the fates of many liberated concentration camp inmates.
For the men and women in the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora camps, liberated Europe was no more than a vague hope buried beneath the bitter realities of camp life. The camp administrations registered more than 130 dead and further “arrivals” from cleared camps in the East – many of them more dead than alive – on the same day: 11 February 1945.