BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

world

Refugees In Germany Are Not Being Housed At Buchenwald Despite What You May Have Read

A number of news reports in recent days have falsely suggested Germany was housing refugees in the notorious camp, as the country struggles with an influx of people seeking asylum.

Posted on September 14, 2015, at 2:38 p.m. ET

Thousands of refugees and migrants have flooded into Germany in recent days, and the country's government has said it is struggling to find accommodation for everyone.

Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images

After more than 12,200 refugees arrived in Munich on Saturday, the country reintroduced temporary border controls on Sunday in a bid to try to bring some order to the influx of desperate people seeking asylum.

Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images

According to some news outlets, the situation has become so dire that refugees are now being housed in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

After the Daily Mail story on Friday, the report spread. Many stories used pictures of the main gate of the Buchenwald camp.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was reported in the Middle East.

And in Israel.

Russian media in particular seemed to love the story.

Sputnik ran a story that used a picture of the barbed wire fence at the camp, where more than 56,000 died.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even the Russian embassy in the U.K. was sharing the "news," using a picture of Holocaust detainees.

The reports all tell of 21 refugees who have been housed in an old building for SS guards at the Buchenwald camp.

What many of the reports fail to make clear, though, is that refugees are being housed not at the Buchenwald concentration camp, but at a site located several hours away in Schwerte.

Google Maps

Camp Schwerte-Ost was a satellite labor camp of Buchenwald during World War II, housing some 700 prisoners who worked on Nazi railroads.

Bernd Thissen / AFP / Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

According to Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, the barracks and guards' quarters were torn down long ago.

The 21 refugees housed on the camp grounds are living in a postwar building previously used as a kindergarten and artist studios, according to town officials.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

What's more, the refugees were moved to the Schwerte building back in January — a fact many of the recent reports glossed over.

As the Washington Post reported at the time, the decision came amid a lot of soul-searching in Germany over whether the move was insensitive to the memory of the Holocaust.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The accusation that we in Schwerte are ignorant of our history and insensitive, deeply hit the council and the city administration," Mayor Heinrich Böckelühr said at the time, defending the decision.

"There is a lively welcoming culture here. And putting refugees up in mass shelters, containers, or gymnasiums is not our understanding of successful integration."

The recent flood of stories all seem to stem back to a report published in The Australian newspaper on Sept. 5.

Using pictures from the i-Images photo agency, the report shared the story of Eritrean refugees Abdurahman Massa and Ayaya Tsinat, who the newspaper claimed were living in "ramshackle barracks" once used by SS guards.

Ben Stevens / i-Images

“I don’t mind what it was before, it is a bed for me,’’ Massa said. “This is good for me.”

Ben Stevens / i-Images
ADVERTISEMENT

But according to the Daily Mail:

Twenty-one male asylum seekers have been moved to the former barracks of the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp, where SS officers killed thousands of prisoners during the Second World War.

Russia Today, which was one of the outlets to run the Buchenwald story in recent days, originally reported the Schwerte story back in January.

Buchenwald, meanwhile, operates as a museum and memorial today.

Jens Schlueter / Getty Images

Guards and local Weimar officials have been horrified by reports suggesting refugees were being housed at the camp.

Jens Schlueter / Getty Images
ADVERTISEMENT

Schwerte lies just outside of the city of Dortmund, which has seen an influx of refugees in recent days. So how have they been treated?

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

When some of the refugees arrived in the city, they were met with applause and welcoming signs from locals.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

They've been given meals...

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

Toys...

Ina Fassbender / Reuters
ADVERTISEMENT

And locals have donated clothes.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

Refugees have shown their gratitude.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

❤️

Ina Fassbender / Reuters
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT