Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Nicole Phelps

Second Advisor

Jonathan Huener

Abstract

This study examines the congressional mission to liberated concentration camps in April and May 1945. General Dwight D. Eisenhower requested a congressional mission and a group of newspaper editors and publishers to view firsthand the horrors of the concentration camp Buchenwald, so that the American public might be made more aware of German atrocities in concentration camps and to dispel the belief that the atrocity reports were wartime propaganda. The congressmen and newspapermen were horrified by what they saw at the German concentration camps, and many reported back to the American public about the atrocities and conditions in the concentration camps through articles, interviews, speeches, and rallies. Upon their return to the United States, the congressmen published a report on the conditions within the camps, and many of them spoke in Congress and to the public about the need to re-educate the Germans, try guilty Germans, and rebuild Germany. The congressmen and editors and publishers brought legitimacy to the reports of American war correspondents concerning German atrocities, and their efforts contributed to constructing a political climate that allowed for and legitimized the Nuremberg Trials, the U.S. Army denazification efforts, and the rebuilding of Germany through the Marshall Plan. To examine this mission, newspaper articles from April and May 1945 were collected from thirteen American newspapers, as well as the Times of London. Research was also conducted in the personal collections of two of the congressmen who toured Europe at that time, as well as at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This study goes beyond the existing research by examining the congressional mission to Buchenwald, Dora, and Dachau, which, though it has been briefly mentioned in existing Holocaust literature, has never been fully examined.

Language

en

Number of Pages

132