On a recent tour of the forward areas in First and Third Armies, I stopped momentarily at the salt mines to take a look at the German treasure. There is a lot of it. But the most interesting — although horrible — sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where ... [there] were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.
“Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.”
— Letter, General Dwight D. Eisenhower to General George C. Marshall, April 15, 1945
What General Eisenhower and his party witnessed in April of 1945 was some of the real-life evidence that hinted at the notion that Nazi Germany was systematically exterminating large numbers of people. Eventually, the mass slaughter of certain European civilians by the Nazis during World War II, with a particular focus on such ethnic groups as Jews and Gypsies, would become known as “The Holocaust.” As Eisenhower suspected, it did not take long for the Holocaust deniers to appear. Wikipedia defines Holocaust denial as “the act of denying the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust during World War II. The key claims of Holocaust denial are that Germany’s National Socialist regime had no Final Solution policy and no intention of exterminating Jews, that Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas chambers to mass murder Jews, and that the actual number of Jews killed was significantly (typically an order of magnitude) lower than the historically accepted figure of 5 to 6 million.”
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