Chasing Down Inmates

On 8 April 1945, American fighter planes attacked the goods station in the Lower Saxon town of Celle, a strategic transport hub. The pilots were unaware that their bombs also hit a train carrying concentration camp inmates. Several hundred of the inmates died.

Like many of the survivors, Armand Roux and Camille Delétang fled the burning waggons. The two Frenchmen were carrying a folder containing notes and portraits of inmates they had made secretly in the Holzen subcamp of Buchenwald over the course of the preceding months. With the aid of the locals, members of the SS, soldiers and policemen chased down the fleeing inmates and murdered 170 of them.

Armand Roux and Camille Delétang survived the massacre. The SS drove them to the nearby Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The folder that meant so much to them had been torn from their hands in the chaos. It did not turn up again until 2012. A local resident had found it in her garden not far from the station on the day of the massacre.

(Michael Löffelsender)


Bernhard Strebel, Celle April 1945 revisited: Ein amerikanischer Bombenangriff, deutsche Massaker an KZ-Häftlingen und ein britisches Gerichtsverfahren, Bielefeld 2008.

Jens-Christian Wagner (ed.), Wiederentdeckt: Zeugnisse aus dem Konzentrationslager Holzen, Göttingen 2013.