The Village and the Death March

On 9 April 1945, a procession of concentration camp inmates reached the village of Daumitsch in the present-day Saale-Orla district. The primarily Jewish inmates had a violent two-day march behind them. They had left Buchenwald on the morning of 7 April. The murders had been ongoing since their departure: the accompanying SS guards ruthlessly shot and killed anyone who collapsed from exhaustion.

They also shot some of the inmates to death in Daumitsch. The exact circumstances have remained unclear to this day. When the march continued on its way, the dead remained behind. For fear of revenge by the U.S. troops, village residents hastily covered up the traces of the crimes – as in so many places. There was no concern for treating the dead with dignity. According to witnesses, the mayor used a pitchfork to carry the corpses to a pit.

It took the Soviet occupiers to arrange for the ceremonial interment of the twelve death march victims in August 1945. The former village mayor was brought before a court martial; his property was confiscated.

(Julia Landau and Michael Löffelsender)