It’s Not Easy to Make A Monument: The Long (and Unresolved) Effort to Commemorate American Liberators at Buchenwald

Jerry Klinger hoped to see a monument to the American soldiers who liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany. For years he’d looked to the 75th anniversary of the freeing of the camp and caring for its surviving inmates on April 11, 2020 as a perfect date for the memorial dedication. It did not happen. First, there was lukewarm support from Jewish group. Then opposition from left-wing German politicians and disagreements with communist historians about the exact meaning of “liberation.” And finally, Corona virus. Klinger, who father was liberated from Buchenwald, worked with the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Aboard to create a striking and informative memorial at Buchenwald’s Little Camp, dedicated in 2002. This new memorial, seemingly simpler, was harder to do. In this recounting, Klinger gives the history of his efforts, with all the ups and downs of the project.

Buchenwald’s liberation is Germany’s political football,” San Diego Jewish World (April 11, 2020).

Klinger is president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and has organized and funded many historical markers in the United States and abroad.

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