The Buchenwald concentration camp on the Ettersberg near Weimar was established by the SS in 1937. The purpose of the camp was to combat political opponents, persecute Jews, Sinti and Roma, and permanently ostracize “strangers to the community” – among them homosexuals, homeless persons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and ex-convicts – from the “body of the German people”.
More than a quarter of a million persons were ultimately imprisoned in the concentration camp and its subcamps. In 1945, Buchenwald was the largest concentration camp in the German Reich. When the Americans reached it the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower, wrote: “Nothing has ever shocked me as much as that sight.”