Gatehouse at Buchenwald concentration camp

Clock on top of gatehouse stopped at 3:15 p.m.

Pictured above is the gate house (Torgebäude) with a clock on the guard tower at the top of the building. The clock is stopped at 3:15 p.m., the hour that prisoners belonging to "the international resistance organization" took over the camp, just prior to the arrival of soldiers with the 6th Armored Division of the US Third Army at 5:30 p.m. on April 11, 1945.

Gate house with prison wing in the foreground

The gate house was one of the first buildings to be completed when construction on the camp started in July 1937. The main watchtower on the top of this building had three guards with machine guns aimed at the whole camp.

One of the side wings of the gate house housed the camp jail or "bunker." The other side was for the SS administration offices. The photo above shows the gate house from inside the camp. The side closest to the camera is the camp prison with small barred windows. In the background you can see one of the two preserved guard towers; the camp originally had 22 guard towers.

Directly in front of the gate building was the Appellplatz or roll call square where the prisoners were counted morning and evening; the square was lighted at night.

Dutch Jews stand on Apellplatz for roll call

After roll call, the prisoners marched through the gate, on their way to work in the quarry or factory, as the camp orchestra played melodies from Viennese operas.

Prisoner's orchestra in Buchenwald concentration camp

The photograph below is another view of the gatehouse from inside the camp; in the foreground is a hand-drawn cart used by prisoners in the camp and a replica of a tree trunk which was used for the notorious punishment called "hanging on the tree." This punishment consisted of hanging a prisoner by his arms with his hands tied behind his back. Martin Sommer who was in charge of the "bunker" or camp prison at Buchenwald is credited with devising this horrible punishment.

Handcart and replica of tree trunk used for hanging punishment