Shot to Death and Left by the Wayside

On the morning of 6 April 1945, the SS drove some 450 concentration camp inmates through Clausthal-Zellerfeld. The residents were accustomed to the sight: other death marches had passed through the town on the preceding days.

This march came from the nearby Buchenwald subcamp in Bad Gandersheim. Again and again, the SS shot and killed exhausted inmates who couldn’t keep the pace. On this morning alone, they murdered eleven inmates at the Hirschler Brink on the town periphery.

All that remained of the victims were a few concentration camp ID tags and an amulet the 23-year-old French mechanic René Bevilacqua had fashioned for himself in the concentration camp using the simplest of means. The SS left the corpses by the wayside and ordered a German forestry worker to have the police destroy the inmate uniforms. All traces were to be obliterated. The death march continued on for another three weeks, finally ending in Dachau. Only about 200 of the inmates from Bad Gandersheim survived to be liberated.

(Karsten Uhl)