Saving Lives

The medics and officers of the Third U.S. Army’s 120th Evacuation Hospital had been working day and night for a week. Sunday, 22 April 1945 was no exception. But it was only now that they managed to curb the mass dying in the liberated Buchenwald concentration camp.

The rescue unit under Colonel William E. Williams had arrived on the evening of 15 April. They quickly took stock of the disastrous situation and set to work, assisted in their efforts by 270 nurses and doctors from the inmates’ infirmary under chief physician Dr. Joseph Anselme Brau, a French survivor.

The unit’s medics sanitized over a thousand rooms, cleared out a number of SS caserns and, within a few days, set up a huge hospital comprising eleven wards. They moved 4,700 sick inmates there from the stable barracks of the Little Camp. Thanks to the medicine, penicillin and blood plasma they had brought along, they were able to save many lives at the last minute.

(Harry Stein)

Reference: United States Army, “Buchenwald and beyond: 120th EVAC” (1946), World War Regimental Histories, 173 (http://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/173, accessed 22 March 2021).