Nazi Germany Establishes Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Buchenwald concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager or 'KZ' Buchenwald) was a Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg (Etter Mountain) near Weimar, Thuringia, Germany (at the time, Germany), in July 1937, and one of the largest and first camps on German soil.

Camp prisoners worked primarily as forced labour in local armament factories. Inmates were Jews, Poles, political prisoners, Roma and Sinti, Jehovah's Witnesses, religious prisoners, criminals, homosexuals, and prisoners of war (POWs). Up to 1942 the majority of the political prisoners consisted of communists and Anarchists; later the proportion of other political prisoners increased considerably. Among the prisoners were also writers, doctors, artists, former nobility, and princesses. They came from countries as varied as Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Italy, Romania and Spain (some Second Spanish Republic exiles). Most of the political prisoners from the occupied countries were members of the resistance.

From 1945 to 1950, the camp was used by the Soviet occupation authorities as the NKVD special camp number 2.

Weimar is a famous German town known for centuries for its cultural life. Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, and Bach lived in Weimar. Goethe used to climb the Ettersberg and sit and work under a beech tree. It was this place which was chosen by the Nazis to establish the concentration camp of Buchenwald (Beech Wood)

On June 3, 1936, the Inspector of Concentration Camps, SS General Eicke, proposed to transfer the concentration camp of Lichtenburg to Thuringia. The field of Ettersberg was officially chosen on May 5, 1937 and on July 16, 1937, the first 300 prisoners arrived in the camp (at this time, the name of the camp was "Konzentrationslager Ettersberg"). On August 6, 1937, the name of the camp was changed to Konzentrationslager Buchenwald (Buchenwald Concentration Camp).