Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps on German soil. Established by the SS in 1937, the camp served as a forced labour camp for political prisoners, Russian Prisoners of War and groups the Nazi Party identified as 'degenerate'.
It was not common for Allied Prisoners of War to be sent to concentration camps, but over the summer of 1944, 168 Allied airmen were sent to the Buchenwald. Many of the airmen had crashed in occupied France and after being caught evading capture, disguised as civilians or carrying false papers, German Authorities considered the airmen to be spies. Their status as Prisoners of War under the Geneva Convention was not respected, and the airmen were sent to the Concentration Camp on 20 August 1944.
On arrival at Buchenwald the Allied POWs were shaved and denied shoes and for the first three weeks of their imprisonment were forced to sleep outside without shelter. To combat the difficult living conditions, the group of Allied POWs banded together, holding meetings as the KLB Club. On 19 October 1944, 156 airmen were transferred to Stalag Luft III, the remainder were transferred over the following weeks, but in that time American POW Levitt Beck, succumbed to disease and died in the Camp.
Attempts were made to evacuate the camp from 6-11 April 1945, but after receiving a response to a message sent to the US Army, prisoners staged a resistance, storming the watch towers and killing guards. US troops of the 6th Armored Division arrived on 11 April 1945 to Liberate the camp.
It is estimated that over 56,000 people died at Buchenwald during its operation.
Military | Second Lieutenant | Glider Pilot (MOS 1026) | 437th Troop Carrier Group
Stratton entered the service as a private (service # 18062300) on 26 June 1942 from Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas. He was single, without dependents, had four years of college and his civilian occupation was listed as "Chiropractors".
Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
Crashed N of Grindavik, Iceland due to low fuel on a ferry flight en roue to the 8th AAF on 17 Mar 1944 in B-24H #41-28668. RTD. Shot down11 May 1944 in B-24 #4294999. Prisoner of War (POW).
Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 406th Fighter Group
Levitt Beck was born in Houston, Texas, he attended Huntington Park High School in California, graduating in 1938, and worked as an architect.
Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 353rd Fighter Group
Shot down 12 June 1944 over France west of Paris. Evaded. Captured August 1944-Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Stalag III-Liberated at Moosburg April 1945.
Awards: DFC, AM (3 OLC), POW, WWII Victory, EAME.
American photographer and documentary photographer. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry, the firsthand American female war photojournalist, and the first female photographer for Henry Luce's...
Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
Prisoner of War (POW). Hit by flak and had mid air collision and crashed near Chartres on 8/1/44 in B-17 Stormy Weather 42-39873. He was one of 2 survivors.
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot, Co-Pilot | 384th Bomb Group
Shot down 24 April 1944 in B-17 #42-31346 'Shack Rabbit'. Initially evaded. Arrested. Prisoner of War (POW).
Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 489th Bomb Group
Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed at Richville on 6/25/44 in B-24 #4295249
Military | Flight Officer | Fighter pilot | 355th Fighter Group
Assigned to 358FS, 355FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) ramrod to Munster. Apparently hit by flak 11 Mar 1944 and crashed at Maastricht-Scharn, Holland in P-51B #43-6554. Prisoner of War (POW).
Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.
Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 489th Bomb Group
Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed at Richville on 6/25/44 in B-24 #4295249 Flew 15 missions shot down on 16th. Spent 6 weeks with French Underground then 7 days in prison in Paris, then taken to Buchenwald on 8/18/44. Stayed there 2...