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Dead bodies, evidence and the death march from Buchenwald to Dachau, April–May 1945
Christopher E. Mauriello

This article utilises the theoretical perspectives of the forensic turn to further expand our historical understandings and interpretations of the events of the Holocaust. More specifically, it applies a theory of the materialities of dead bodies to historically reconstruct and reinterpret the death march from Buchenwald to Dachau from 7 to 28 April 1945. It focuses on dead bodies as ‘evidence’, but explores how the evidential meanings of corpses along the death-march route evolved and changed during the march itself and in the aftermath of discovery by approaching American military forces. While drawing on theories of the evidential use of dead bodies, it remains firmly grounded in empirical historical research based on archival sources. The archives at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp contain eyewitness accounts and post-war trial testimony that enable a deeply contextualised ‘microhistory’ of the geography, movements, perpetrators, victims and events along this specific death march in April and May 1945. This ‘thick description’ provides the necessary context for a theoretical reading of the changing evidential meanings of dead bodies as the death march wove its way from Buchenwald to Dachau and the war and the Holocaust drew to an end.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
The French search mission for the corpses of deportees in Germany, 1946–58
Jean-Marc Dreyfus

(Auschwitz II).12 HRMV.indb 131 01/09/2014 17:28:40 132  Jean-Marc Dreyfus Some of the deportees’ bodies were not incinerated, however, particularly in the final months of the war, due to the increase in the number of deaths and the absence of fuel (wood or coal) for the incinerators. The bodies were then buried in mass graves, either near to the camp or kommando,13 or in the municipal cemeteries or Jewish cemeteries in the neighbouring villages.14 The prisoners who survived until the concentration camp system was dismantled were then taken on forced ‘death marches’, in

in Human remains and mass violence
Open Access (free)
Or how to make the Armenian corpses disappear
Raymond H. Kévorkian

first priority for the Young Turks was to conceal all traces of their crimes as quickly as possible. The first phase of the genocide The first phase of the genocide, from April to September 1915, consisted of the forced deportation (the ‘death marches’) of the DHR.indb 89 5/15/2014 12:51:10 PM 90  Raymond H. Kévorkian Armenian and Syrian populations from the Ottoman Empire, in particular from six eastern provinces, where the majority had their historic roots. These are wild, mountainous regions, at average altitudes of 2,000 metres; the enclosed valleys

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
The daily work of Erich Muhsfeldt, chief of the crematorium at Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, 1942–44
Elissa Mailänder

At this camp in Franconia, for about four weeks, Muhsfeldt undertook his last concentration camp duty, now as roll-call leader. During the evacuation and the death march53 he was to prove his ability and use his expertise in the disposal of corpses one last time in the service of the SS, as the leader of the funeral squad. DHR.indb 57 5/15/2014 12:51:07 PM 58  Elissa Mailänder Conclusion: a man for all phases Despite his initial reluctance, Muhsfeldt developed in Majdanek broad-ranging expertise, indeed talent, in everything related to corpse disposal. In the

in Destruction and human remains
Open Access (free)
Why exhume? Why identify?
Élisabeth Anstett and Jean-Marc Dreyfus

persons, intervening in dozens of countries around the world, and whose director, Luis Fondebrider, was a guest at our conference in Manchester. The temporality of the search for and identification of corpses, and not just their globalized character, is thus an important element in the analysis of these phenomena. In some countries, the search for bodies began immediately after the massacres, such as in Poland in 1945, where Jewish survivors tried to give the victims of the death marches a dignified burial.12 But in Spain, it was not until sixty years after the end of

in Human remains and identification
Open Access (free)
Portraying the exhumation and reburial of Polish Jewish Holocaust victims in the pages of yizkor books
Gabriel N. Finder

came mainly from Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, deemed it their solemn responsibility to afford a proper burial to Jewish victims of Nazism who, in this case, had died on German soil, either in concentration camps or on death marches, but were largely strangers to the survivors. Forming committees for this 56   Gabriel N. Finder purpose, displaced persons buried or exhumed and reburied the Jewish dead under the protection, albeit frequently begrudging protection, of the American military, with the financial support of the American Joint Distribution

in Human remains and identification
Yehonatan Alsheh

killing factory, in which the high-pressure slaughter characteristic of the battlefield and the slaughter pit takes place almost daily over a long duration of time • normal, ‘everyday life’ sites turned sites of mass death such as: oo the village oo the urban setting oo the bombarded area • but also non-bounded sites of mass death over extended time spans, in which the survivors are forced to move on, leaving the corpses behind, such as the trail marched during forced expulsions and death marches • and last but far from being least, societies on their own territory

in Human remains and mass violence