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1937: Quiet Before the Storm
 pg. 116 
The Buchenwald concentration camp was among the most infamous in Germany. Here, as elsewhere, the Third Reich's officials kept extensive records on each prisoner, and each prisoner had to go through registration (pictured). Most of the Jews sent to Buchenwald were soon shipped out to other camps.
Photo: American Joint Distribution Committee/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Devices such as this Dehomag D11 tabulating machine permitted the SS to keep track of the huge numbers of prisoners held in concentration camps. Manufactured by the German Hollerith Machine Company, a subsidiary of IBM, this data processing apparatus was state of the art in the 1930s.
Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

In the summer of 1937, the Buchenwald concentration camp opened in the hilly woods just outside Weimar, a German city famous for its cultural heritage. The camp soon became a torture center.

Ilse Koch, the wife of camp commander Karl Koch, developed a morbid taste for tattooed skin stripped from the corpses of inmates. Another camp commander habitually unleashed vicious dogs against Gypsy prisoners who refused to undergo sterilization. The victims were torn to pieces. Homosexual prisoners underwent pseudoscientific experiments, in which they were injected with typhus bacillus. Tens of thousands perished at Buchenwald between 1937 and 1945--victims of disease from overcrowding and poor sanitation, hard labor, torture, medical experiments, and gassings.

The camp initially housed political prisoners, but was enlarged in 1938 to take in large numbers of Jews. In the wake of Kristallnacht, more than 10,000 Jews filled the barracks. During the war years, inmates were exploited as slave labor for the armament industry. By 1945 the evacuation of camps in Eastern Europe brought a tremendous influx of inmates into Buchenwald; at war's end in April 1945, more than 47,000 were imprisoned there.
Photo: Lorenz Schmuhl/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

 March 14, 1937: Pope Pius XI issues an encyclical, "Mit brennender Sorge" ("With Burning Concern"), repudiating Nazi racism and totalitarianism. Pius XI respectfully chastises the Nazis for violating their concordat with the Church by attempting to control Catholic education. The wording of the encyclical implies that Pius is seeking a rapprochement with the Third Reich. The Pope does not denounce widespread German-Christian antisemitism. Indeed, Pius reminds his readers of the Jews' crime of deicide.
1937: Quiet Before the Storm
 pg. 116 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.