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Full Extent of Nazi Prison Camp System Still Emerging

Scholars are still discovering the full scale of the Nazi prison camp system during WWII as President Obama visited remembrances and anniversary celebrations in Europe this week. Ray Suarez reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, new details about the number of Nazi prison camps during World War II, one of which President Obama toured today. Ray Suarez has our story.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    It was a visit both official and personal. President Obama walked the grounds of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two leaders, born long after the Second World War, visited the camp with a man who had been a prisoner at Buchenwald, Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel.

    They saw the foundations of barracks, guard towers, and railroad tracks. Later, the group placed white roses on a memorial to the camps' victims.

    The Nazis imprisoned 250,000 people here. Roughly 56,000 died, including some 11,000 Jews. The camp was in operation for almost eight years until its liberation by allied forces in 1945.

    Mr. Obama pledged today never to forget what he saw at the camp, and he criticized those who deny the events of the Holocaust.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened, a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The visit had special meaning for the president. His great-uncle served in a U.S. infantry division that liberated Ohrdruf, a nearby satellite camp, in the spring of 1945.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    He returned from his service in a state of shock, saying little and isolating himself for months on end from family and friends, along with the painful memories that would not leave his head. And as we saw some of the images here, it's understandable that someone who witnessed what had taken place here would be in a state of shock.

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