naked skeletons walking as if on stilts, told the Britishndelegation that they had heard of camps further east wherenconditions were still worse, and paid tribute to the precisionnof RAF bombing, which (they said) had killed about 200nNazis, 400 prisoners, and 150 Nazi women residing nearby.nThe huts themselves, which once numbered over 50,nhave now been razed, leaving only concrete foundationsnmarked with information about those who lived in them, ornceased to live. The crematorium, too, is marked on thenground. There were no gas chambers at Buchenwald, andnkilling was mainly by shooting or hanging. But the centralnarea has been laid waste. Essentially, as it stands today,nBuchenwald is a huge empty space surrounded by wire.nThe exhibition is instructive, in a misleading sort of way,nand remarkable for its effrontery. A film shows something ofnNazism, as you would expect—but much too aboutnAmerican atrocities, real or alleged, in Vietnam. Thoughnthe exhibition tells the story of the rise of Hitler, there is nonword of the Hitier-Soviet pact of 1939-41—a topic stillnlargely taboo east of the Iron Curtain, even after Gorbachev’snvisit to Poland in July 1988, a nation that the pactndismembered—and nothing about the genocidal theories ofnMarx and Engels where Hitler probably found in print thenidea for his Final Solution. Still less is there any hint thatnBuchenwald, along with Sachsenhausen and other camps innformer German lands, were used for years by the Sovietsnafter 1945 for a similar purpose. It is admitted that the campnwas liberated by the US and not by the Red Army. But thenAmerican liberators are reviled for having failed to supportn”the only consistent resistance among the prisoners,” whichnmeans that they did not promptly hand over the camp to itsnCommunist underground. The hero of the display is ErnstnThalmann, leader of the German Communist Party,nthough the truth is that he was never a prisoner here, havingnbeen brought in one morning in August 1944 to be shot.nNazis are not called that; still less are they called NationalnSocialists, since socialism is officially a sacred name throughoutneastern Europe, and its moral authority is not to bensullied or questioned. So, as elsewhere in East Germany,nthey are called fascists — a name they never used.nLeon Blum has left a detailed account of life and deathninside Nazi Buchenwald during the last two years ofnworld war. Shortly after his liberation, in an article calledn”The Last Month,” he described his careful segregation innthe camp from the thousands of prisoners who, as he at firstnfailed to guess, were dying around him. A camp was anstrictly compartmentalized organism, and you could spendnmonths, even years in one without knowing its full purpose.nThe hut Blum shared with his wife was on the edge of thenofficers’ quarters: Blum scarcely left it for two years, andnnever wandered into the camp at large; and no one enterednit but the SS. On a rare visit to the dentist, he would bentaken by car as a privileged prisoner, talk to no one in thenhospital and return in equal solitude. The huts for specialnprisoners were continuously patrolled by SS men with dogsnand machine guns, some of them always to be seen betweennthe huts and the perimeter fence, night and day, and thenBlums survived in their tiny cabin as if in a tomb. In factnthere were old friends in neighboring huts of whose verynexistence they remained unaware for nearly a year.nThat segregation, as Blum insists, explains his ignorancenof what the camp was largely for. The first hint, he tells, wasnthe strange smell which we often had at eveningnthrough the open windows, enveloping us all nightnlong when the wind persisted in the same direction.nIt was the smell of the crematorium.nThough there was a lot of death at Buchenwald, “we nevernknew exactly what one died of, or how one died.” ThenBlums were to understand better in August 1944 when,nafter an American bombing raid on the camp, ordinarynprisoners were brought in to clear up the mess. Blum’sndescription is unforgettable:ntheir faces gaunt, hollow and furrowed, their bodiesnfloating under striped smocks, their feet bare insidentheir wooden clogs . . . They passed us harnessednlike draft animals to a cart loaded with rocks andnsands; or in long lines, their shoulders bent under anlong tree trunk, like captives in some Egyptian ornAssyrian frieze.nThe Blums contrived to exchange a few words with Frenchnand Belgian prisoners, learning about friends in the camp,nand realizing from their talk how vastly different the life ofnordinary prisoners was from their own. And they heard, too,nof even worse sectors elsewhere, reserved for Russians,nPoles, and Jews. But it is astonishing to record that it wasnonly after his liberation, when he heard the testimony ofnother survivors, that the great Leon Blum — the mostnfamous of all residents of Buchenwald in its first stage, and anresident there for nearly two years — realized that he hadnlived in a charnel house.nBlum’s intuition that Nazi cruelty must be infectious wasnto prove true.n”You are already conquerors in this sense,” he wrotenbitterly after the war of his Nazi captors. “You havensucceeded in communicating to the world your cruelty andnyour hatred.” The world, he predicted, would respond, andnit did — “waging war like you, in exasperated rage.” Blumntrembled at the thought, in his liberty, and with reason. FornSoviet Buchenwald was in all likelihood andeadlier place than the Nazi camp, in thensense that a higher proportion of itsnprisoners died. But they died not quickly, bynshooting and hanging, but by starvation andnabove all disease, tuberculosis being thengreatest of all killers.nthough Buchenwald in its second life, under the Russians,nmay have killed only 13,000 prisoners, they representednover a third of the camp population of those years, or farnmore than the proportion of Nazi dead. It is a curious detailnof the British parliamentary report of 1945 that the prisonernwho had been in charge of cremating bodies in the NazinnnJULY 1989/17n