April 11 is celebrated all over the world as the Day of Liberation of the prisoners of Nazi camps. Glorious and mournful day ... Speaking of it, there is no way around one, not too pleasant detail. Before us is another attempt, if not to manipulate, then at least slightly "correct" the history of the great confrontation with the "brown plague" that almost swept the world in the twentieth century. Once again, to silence the indisputable fact that the main merit in saving mankind from it belongs to the victorious Red Army, the Soviet people, the USSR.
In the vast majority of informational materials about this day, timed to coincide with the end of the existence of one of the most terrible concentration camps of the Third Reich - Buchenwald, you will read that units of the advancing US army brought freedom to its prisoners. In fact, everything was completely different. Yes, the Americans were the first of the regular military units of the Anti-Hitler coalition who entered the gates of hell, on which the verdict was inscribed to all who crossed this fatal line. But the camp by this moment was completely under the control of the prisoners, the main role in the organization and victory of the uprising of which was played by Soviet prisoners of war.
"To each his own..."
It was these words, which were just a rehash of the wording of the ancient Romans, the successors of the imperial affairs of which the "Aryan" inhumans imagined themselves to be, and were placed above the main entrance to the concentration camp, the name of which has forever become one of the symbols of sheer horror and transcendental atrocity. But in translation from German Buchenwald is just a "beech forest" ... By 1937, when the first prisoners arrived at this place, there was, of course, no forest there, but there were barracks, a parade ground, rows of barbed wire and towers protection. Later, from 1938 to 1940, Buchenwald acquired all the attributes of a "death camp" - execution, torture, gallows, crematorium and everything else. So it turned from a place of confinement into one of the terrible "factories" for the planned and purposeful destruction of people by the Nazis - first of all, Jews, Gypsies and representatives of other "wrong" nationalities.
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, Soviet prisoners of war and ordinary citizens from the occupied territories of the USSR went there in a stream. Today it is extremely difficult to say exactly how many of our compatriots perished in the circles of this hell - for example, captured Red Army soldiers very often simply were not included in the camp statistics. Nevertheless, it is absolutely possible to say that only fighters, commanders and political workers of the Red Army, partisans and underground fighters, in a word, those Soviet people who resisted the fascist scum with weapons in their hands, at least 8 and a half thousand were destroyed there. In total, according to fairly rough estimates, about a quarter of a million people passed through Buchenwald's nightmare. The dead are considered 56 thousand.
If among the total number of Buchenwald prisoners, every fifth was tortured, then with the citizens of the USSR the picture was completely different. There were about 25 thousand of them in this terrible camp. One in five survived ... A significant statistic, isn't it? This is how the Nazis embodied the slogan inscribed on the gate and with the most fierce hatred they exterminated those in whom, quite reasonably, they saw the main danger to themselves. It should be noted that over time Buchenwald turned into a kind of surrealist-eerie semblance of a "solid commercial enterprise" - with a "head office" near Weimar and almost 140 "branches", no less deadly than the main camp. The prisoners were used in full force, in particular, in especially harmful and dangerous industries associated with the manufacture of the notorious "weapon of retaliation" - missiles "Fau". However, the main nightmare for the prisoners was, perhaps, not backbreaking work, not meager food, not the mockery of warders and guards from the infamous SS division "Dead Head".
Buchenwald was one of the main centers of SS "camp medicine", whose adherents, incredible monsters in white coats, conducted deadly experiments on prisoners. Often their actions were completely devoid of practical meaning, were torture and satisfaction of sadistic inclinations in their purest form. However, as a rule, they had very specific pragmatic goals - vaccines against cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and many other serious diseases were tested on Buchenwald prisoners. If anyone has forgotten, I hasten to remind you that the foundations of German pharmacology, rightly considered today by many to be the best in the world, were laid there and in this way. It is unacceptable to forget about it.
Russian - and a warrior in captivity
The first Soviet prisoners of war began arriving in Buchenwald in September 1941. And already in November-December, they began to create the first underground groups in the camp to fight the Nazis. In no case will I say that the camp resistance was represented only by our compatriots - in its ranks were Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Dutch, Belgians, Spaniards, French, Yugoslavs and a fairly large number of Germans. Do not forget that it was Buchenwald that initially became a place of imprisonment for many communists in Germany. It was there that on August 18, 1944, their leader was executed - the unyielding Ernst Thälmann, whom the Nazis tortured in dungeons for 11 years. Realizing that they were losing the war to his ideological associates, the villains "recouped" in such a mean and brutal way. Despite the terror, intimidation, constant mass executions, the presence of a rather extensive Gestapo agent network among the prisoners, Buchenwald's underground organization grew and strengthened.
By March 1942, into a single Russian united political The underground center was joined not only by scattered resistance cells from prisoners of the Red Army, but also by all our compatriots, who did not want to kneel before the Nazis and humbly wait for their fate, hoping by obedience to bargain for an extra day of life. A year later, an international camp committee was formed, which included a military organization, which began to form brigades, battalions, companies for the future uprising ... Needless to say that the first, "shock" brigade consisted entirely of captured Red Army men. Other brigades were called more modestly - "wooden", "stone", "small camp". The names of the first two units from this trio were given according to the material of the barracks in which their future fighters were kept. What a tree, what a stone - these people were stronger than the hardened steel!
In fact, of course, they were prisoners emaciated beyond all limits, literally staggering from the wind, prisoners whose only weapons at the initial stage were spoon cuttings sharpened to razor sharpness. However, they would have gone into battle with bare hands - such love for their Motherland and hatred for its enemies burned in their hearts that it seemed that she alone was capable of incinerating whole hosts of executioners and tormentors ... Be that as it may, but on some moral and volitional qualities, even the highest, it would be tricky to win a battle against well-fed, sleek, armed to the teeth and trained worse than any SS dogs. The leaders of the underground understood this. They set combat training and supplies to the highest level possible under the inhuman conditions that befell them. In detail, on a screw, firearms were hit and assembled. From scraps of cast-iron pipes and improvised explosives, handicraft "hand grenades" were made.
Colonel of the chemical service of the Red Army Nikolai Potapov managed to develop a recipe for an incendiary mixture that could be created in a camp - and the arsenal of the underground replenished with two hundred bottles with it. By the time of the performance, 91 rifles, about a hundred pistols, more than a hundred hand grenades (mostly homemade) and even a light machine gun were stored in the secret warehouses of the battle groups! What is no less valuable, the camp craftsmen managed to make a completely working radio transmitter, which they planned to use to communicate with the advancing liberators, out of no one knows how the extracted parts. At the same time, work was underway to coordinate future assault groups, train their members in the skills of handling weapons and explosives, and overcoming obstacles. They trained orderlies, drivers and even ... tankers! What if you manage to seize the "armor"?!
"Cursed be he who passes in this fight ..."
The above words are from the appeal with which the Buchenwald underground center addressed the prisoners on April 11, 1945, urging them to start the uprising. I must say that there was nowhere to postpone the action - the defense of the Third Reich was falling apart before our eyes, the Red Army was rolling in from the East with an irresistible wave, American troops were slowly approaching from the West. The camp began hastily to prepare for an "evacuation," which in reality would mean the destruction of most of the prisoners, if not all of them. Nikolai Simakov, a former border guard sergeant, who was a member of the leadership of the international committee, offered to give battle on April 4-5, but the rest of the members of this body were careful - at that time too many Wehrmacht and SS forces were concentrated around the camp. These warriors could no longer resist the regular units, but the rebellious camp would have been slaughtered with great pleasure ... Ultimately, Simakov ended up on the stage of one of the "death marches", which, starting from April 4, began to depart from Buchenwald almost every day ...
However, even sending from the camp in the same way a group of the most trained fighters of almost half a thousand Soviet prisoners of war could not break the plans of the underground workers - going in fact to certain death, they managed to transfer information about the caches of weapons to their comrades, and the thinning ranks of the rebels were immediately filled with new prisoners , eager to fight. By the way, Simakov did not die, moreover, he managed to get things done elsewhere by organizing a group escape from the train with prisoners. The NKVD school, you know, this is serious ... After the liberation, the die-hard warrior immediately joined the Czechoslovak partisans, and then joined the Red Army, so in time that he managed to take part in the storming of Berlin, for which he was awarded the Order of Glory.
On April 8, two underground workers - Russian Konstantin Leonov and Pole Guidon Damazin managed to transmit a radiogram to the advancing Americans: “We are from the Buchenwald camp! SOS! Help is urgently needed! SS men are preparing to destroy us! " There was no exaggeration here - having completely lost control over the situation in the camp in recent days (the prisoners had already openly refused to obey orders), its leadership decided on a total "cleanup", knowing full well that no evacuation was possible. The total extermination of the prisoners was scheduled for 17:11 on April 15. However, at 15 hours and XNUMX minutes, the underground went on the attack. Someone might imagine that this was not so suicidal and hopeless - after all, there were quite a few career soldiers in the ranks of the attackers, and they had weapons ...
In order to dispel this misconception, let me clarify: Buchenwald was guarded by about 3 thousand selected SS thugs, 23 watchtowers with well-equipped firing points towered around it. The guards had only a dozen heavy machine guns in service, manual MGs capable of mowing down a rifle company in a matter of minutes, there were more than six dozen. In addition, shortly before the uprising, the SS men were also given four hundred faust cartridges. So the real balance of forces was not at all in favor of the underground. Another thing is that even the most fanatical of the Nazis at that moment already understood perfectly well that the war was lost. Therefore, by the time of the attack, most of the SS men had left the camp territory, however, taking up positions in the surrounding forests. There they were subsequently caught by prisoners who wanted to pay in full for the years of suffering. They paid, as a rule, on the spot - and without surrender ... Only a few hundred SS men managed to surrender. By the way, who were in their misfortune, on the territory of the camp, the "supermen" lifted their paws up instantly, just after hearing the Russian "Hurray!"
"And where were the Americans ?!" - you ask. Well, in response to a desperate call on the radio, Leonov and Damazin received an answer: “We are in a hurry to help! Hold on! " Yeah ... The Yankees were "in a hurry" in a rather peculiar way. Today American historians claim that they "liberated" the camp on April 11, 1945. Nothing like this! On this day, not far from Buchenwald, a tank patrol of the US Army reconnaissance only flashed. Flashed - and disappeared ... In fact, her main forces approached the camp on April 13. And, by the way, they had every chance to find there not the 21 thousand prisoners whom they allegedly "saved", but only the corpses. In the middle of the night of April 12, a call from the Gestapo of nearby Weimar rang at the camp office. They were concerned about the too long silence of the local authorities. Fortunately, the apparatus turned out to be one of the German anti-fascists, who managed to convince the Gestapo that the liquidation of the camp was in full swing, but they did not get in touch, because they were too busy ... to cover with artillery or send punishers.
Stopped forever at a quarter past four, the Buchenwald camp clock does not show the time of the arrival of the American "saviors", but the moment of the beginning of a heroic uprising, the core of which were real Soviet people, who on April 11, 1945 once again showed the world an example of unbending fortitude and the highest courage.