Those who liberated the Nazi extermination camps firmly believed that the horrors that happened there needed to be witnessed widely, so they would never happen again.
In early August 1945, portions of the Third US Army came upon Ohrdruf, a Nazi labor camp and a subcamp within the larger Buchenwald system.
Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George Patton toured the camp. The sights and smells of what had happened there -- torture, mutilation, murder -- were so overpowering that even a veteran soldier like Patton (on the left here at the camp) turned away and vomited.
The Army forced civilians from the town to come to the camp, to witness what had happened in their name and in their backyard, and to bury the dead.

For some, the reckoning with the truth was too much. The mayor of Ohrdurf and his wife, for instance, hanged themselves.
But Ike didn't think only Germans needed to witness what fascism had wrought in their name.

He thought it was vital that Americans see it with their own eyes too. He ordered all available units in the area to tour the camp, and hoped congressmen and reporters would come too.
Eisenhower understood that Americans needed to witness these horrors, to understand what had happened in Germany as a bulwark against it happening again elsewhere.

Sadly, it's a lesson more and more Americans have forgotten, as the war generation has passed from our midst.

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More from @KevinMKruse

31 May
I just found my dad's notebook from an Introduction to American Government course he took at Kansas State in the summer of 1965, and it is phenomenal.
There's a lot going on here, but the John Birch Society's take on Earl Warren deserves special attention.
I'm wondering if this, in July 1965, was the first time he'd heard about this new "Medi Care"
Read 5 tweets
21 May
I'm thrilled to announce that @julianzelizer and I have put together a terrific crew of historians for a forthcoming collection on myths about American history, to be published by the good people at @BasicBooks .
For a while, we've been looking for a way to take what historians do on Twitter -- challenging the myths and misrepresentations that partisans make about American history -- and fleshing them out into a full volume aimed at a broad readership.

We hope this collection does that.
Read 7 tweets
10 May
There's bipartisan opposition when the questions are presented in Republicans' odd framing by a Republican polling outfit, a detail which is finally revealed in the tenth paragraph here.
Should we teach students that race is THE most important thing about them?

Who's actually proposing that?
Should we teach students that racism is the cause of ALL differences in outcomes and achievement? Every single one? Every time?

Again, who's actually arguing that?
Read 4 tweets
28 Apr
Ray Charles' cover of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire is an all-timer.

Especially the live version he did on Cash's TV show:

Honorable mention to this cover, which I love:

Oh, and this rockabilly take on T. Rex is amazing:

Read 4 tweets
26 Apr
The promotion of these far-right gun proposals as “constitutional carry” is really bizarre, given how earlier generations of conservatives had a *very* different understanding of the 2nd Amendment.
Here’s Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Nixon appointee, talking about how the NRA had committed the greatest “fraud” by spinning the 2A into much more than it was.

Here's Ronald Reagan in 1991, that same year:
Read 5 tweets
15 Apr
The brilliant @AriBerman made a guest appearance in my seminar on the political history of civil rights, and I'm delighted to report that he *nailed* the dress code.
We look like the waitstaff at a restaurant that uses the phrase "farm-to-table" waaaaaaay too much.
We look like the backup singers to a Conway Twitty performance on "Hee Haw."
Read 7 tweets

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