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Buchenwald drawing

Liberation of Buchenwald, April 11, 1945, 3:15 p.m.

9. Buchenwald

Abe tries to convince the officers that he is well enough to work, and he is transferred to Ohrdruf. His gangrene-infected foot makes it obvious that he cannot work. The Nazis put him in a barrack for those considered too sick to be worth medical attention. They are there to die. There is only straw on the floor to sleep on. He convinces an officer that he is well enough to be medically treated and is transferred to an infirmary. He then is sent back to Buchenwald.

Abe is soon too sick to leave his bunk except to go to the bathroom. But soon he gets an unexpected surprise. He hears singing outside his barracks. When the huge barracks doors swing open, Nazi officers are marched in, bound in rope. They are followed by singing prisoners who are poking them with the Nazis' own rifles and bayonets. The former prisoners are followed by American soldiers, who stand there like giants in their camouflage uniforms and net-covered helmets. The prisoners at Buchenwald are finally liberated!

The illustration shows the clock in the Buchenwald watchtower is still set at 3:15, when the prisoners were liberated on April 11, 1945. The clock is still set at 3:15 today.

Abe is placed in a hospital, formerly reserved for Nazi officers. The doctors almost have to amputate his foot, but it soon heals and Abe is released. Abe goes on to tell how he and several other survivors live together in Germany, rebuilding their lives. They become fast friends. Abe, of course, goes right back to work and to school, while most survivors are intent on having fun and enjoying life for a while. Abe meets Ellie Mueller, a German Lutheran, and falls in love. He struggles with his love for her, because Abe had been raised in ultra-orthodox Jewish tradition. He finally decides that he deserves some happiness and he asks Ellie to marry him, with the conditions that she convert to Judaism, that they raise their children in the Jewish tradition, and that they leave Germany. She eventually agrees and they decide to emigrate to America. Abe's story ends when he is getting off the train in Augusta, Georgia, the home of his sponsors. Ellie follows a year later. His son, Joseph, tells of their remarkable success in Augusta, where they proudly raised their family in the Jewish tradition.