The Story of the First Concentration Camp to Be Liberated

The first concentration camp to be liberated was Ohrdruf, in April of 1945. It was a "work camp." Or so the locals in the town of Ohrdruf told themselves. An American company discovered the horrifying reality. The first thing the company saw inside the camp's gates were thirty bodies, still wet: prisoners that the German soldiers had shot before driving off in trucks. As the GIs crept forward, the surviving prisoners who could still walk (about half of the 500 who were there) “cautiously” came out of the barracks. They told how the German soldiers had made a hasty attempt to cover up the almost 2000 slave laborers that Ohrdruf had killed. Half had been exhumed from a mass grave, and half had been stacked in several buildings awaiting incineration.

No one had seen anything like this before. While spies and even escapees had been telling of the concentration camps, their reports were not widely known or believed. The American GIs left all the bodies where they were, and notified the division commanders. They shared their rations with the survivors and waited. At noon the division commanders arrived, and Patton himself came at 3:30 pm. General Eisenhower flew in from Belgium early the next morning. The highest commander of the Allied forces had to see this, and decide what was to be done.

When Eisenhower left, Patton brought the mayor of Ohrdruf and his wife to the camp to see for themselves what they had been telling themselves they did not know. German guards came to Ohrdruf off-duty, spending their pay on drinks and women, and undoubtedly telling stories of what the place they worked. Then Patton ordered the mayor, his wife and all the other able-bodied townsfolk to come back the next day and dig individual graves for the dead prisoners. They completed 80% of the graves, and promised to come back the next day and finish the burials. The mayor and his wife were found dead of suicide the next morning. Their suicide note said simply, “We didn’t know! – but we knew.”

The anatomy of the clitoris was shown in greater detail in an 1844 medical textbook than it is in today's medical textbooks. Why did things go backwards? In 1844 it was believed that the clitoris played a role in conception, so it was given a detailed anatomical drawing and write-up.

Left Behind

In 2014, archaeologists conducting surveys in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park found a .44-40 Winchester rifle propped against a juniper tree. Manufactured in 1882, apparently it had stood there for a century.

“It looked like someone propped it up there, sat down to have their lunch and got up to walk off without it,” Nichole Andler, the park’s chief of interpretation, told the Washington Post. Possibly it had belonged to a miner, a rancher, or a hunter. Winchester manufactured 25,000 of this model in 1882, so its presence isn’t exactly surprising. But why did the owner abandon a $25 rifle? If it could talk, that rifle probably has a good story to tell.

When Did Cats Arrive In Japan?

The domesticated cat may have arrived in Japan, via Korea, during the Nara period -- that's sometime between 710 and 794 CE. They were highly valued for their ability to kill rodents, and slowly became adopted as personal pets as well.

A Crystal Pendant With Hathor's Head

From Nubia, sometime between 743 and 712 BCE. It was found in the tomb of an unknown queen of King Piankhy (also called King Piye).

The Lakshmi of Pompeii

  But wait, you're thinking -- Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess, right? She is, the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity and the wife of Vishnu. But this particular Lakshmi figurine was found in the ruins of Pompeii. It is beautiful proof of the trade links between the Roman Empire and the other great civilizations of their day.

Where In The World Has France Invaded?

We focus too much on the British Empire. Let's give France its colonizing, imperialist due.

Famous stutterers from history include Moses, Greek orator Demosthenes, Friedrich Nietzsche, King George VI of England, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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