Massacre of SS guards at Dachau

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
User avatar
Siegfried Wilhelm
Member
Posts: 744
Joined: 17 Jun 2002 15:19
Location: Kleinkleckersdorf, NC, Confederate States of America

Massacre of SS guards at Dachau

Post by Siegfried Wilhelm » 31 Dec 2003 15:57

What happened to the captured camp guards at Dachau? I have heard that they were all murdered---by one man (with a machinegun).
Was anything ever done to this man? Who was he? Obviously against the rules of war.
What's the story here?

SW~

AdolfDettmer
Member
Posts: 395
Joined: 31 Aug 2003 22:47
Location: Michigan

Post by AdolfDettmer » 31 Dec 2003 17:55

I dont know much about this. Pretty much all I know is what you have stated, and I say they got what they deserved.

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8793
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by michael mills » 02 Jan 2004 01:24

In the autumn of 1944, the guard companies at Dachau had been sent to the front. They had been replaced by Luftwaffe personnel no longer fit for active service at the front; these men had been transferred to the Waffen-SS for the purpose of serving as camp guards.

Whether any or all of those former Luftwaffe-men committed any crimes against the prisoners they were guarding is a moot point, and one that would need to be detrmined by further research.

One of the main things that had enraged the US soldiers who captured the camp was the discovery of a train full of the bodies of prisoners transferred to Dachau who had died in transit from hunger and exposure. It is doubtful whether the Dachau camp staff or guards could have reasonably been held responsible for those deaths, since most of them occurred before the arrival of the train at Dachau.

Certainly the guards at Dachau could not be held responsible for anything that had occurred at the concentration camp prior to their arrival in late 1944.

As Marcus has pointed out, among the German personnel captured at Dachau were persons stationed in a Waffen-SS camp located next to the concentration camp but not associated with it. Many of them were patients in the hospital at that camp. I do not know whether the persons machine-gunned by enraged US soldiers were members of the concentration camp guard companies, members of the camp staff itself, or persons from the Waffen-SS camp; probably a mixture.

User avatar
Penn44
Banned
Posts: 4214
Joined: 26 Jun 2003 06:25
Location: US

Re: Dachau guards

Post by Penn44 » 02 Jan 2004 03:44

Siegfried Wilhelm wrote:What happened to the captured camp guards at Dachau? I have heard that they were all murdered---by one man (with a machinegun).
Was anything ever done to this man? Who was he? Obviously against the rules of war.
What's the story here?

SW~


Reportedly, a Private William C. Curtin of Co I, 157th Inf, 45th Div was the machine-gunner (if he was a machine-gunner, he was probably a member of Co M (Heavy Weapons Co) attached to Co I).

Reports differ on what happened in this particular event. Curtin claimed the Germans were attempting to escape. When the Germans saw the Americans emplace the machinegun and the cock it, they started to move. Others claim that the event was an execution.

A number of other SS guards were killed during the liberation of the camp. From descriptions of what happened, some of the killings were "executions."


.

User avatar
Siegfried Wilhelm
Member
Posts: 744
Joined: 17 Jun 2002 15:19
Location: Kleinkleckersdorf, NC, Confederate States of America

Post by Siegfried Wilhelm » 02 Jan 2004 22:19

Wasn't there an officer around to prevent these 'executions'? I mean that is not particularly the reputed American way. How could they be escaping when they were lined up against a wall with that many other US soldiers around. Also the photograph that started me on this whole thing shows a couple 3 or 4 Germans still standing (with hands up) after most all of the others were mowed down. I understand they were shot too as there were no survivors among the camp guards.
Sounds like murder to me. What happened to this Pvt. Curtin? Did he get what 'Landser Fritz' would have gotten? (of course I am not that naive) But again, where were the officers...they couldn't have allowed that to happen. Who was in charge?

He said the Germans started to move?
Shades of Malmedy here. (bigger bodycount too)


SW~

mars
Member
Posts: 1123
Joined: 03 Oct 2002 19:50
Location: Shanghai

Post by mars » 03 Jan 2004 02:58

Yes, It was not the American's way to treat the POWs, but judged by what these American soldiers just saw in the camp, I can hardly blame them

Dan
Financial supporter
Posts: 8429
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 14:06
Location: California

Post by Dan » 03 Jan 2004 03:05

mars wrote:Yes, It was not the American's way to treat the POWs, but judged by what these American soldiers just saw in the camp, I can hardly blame them


I've always assumed that the American soldiers just saw a justifiable excuss to kill White men. After all, they had a history of it in Italy, and how do you fit that episode into your thesis? Not that I can blame them.

User avatar
Arminiusder Cherusker1
Member
Posts: 143
Joined: 14 Feb 2003 14:01
Location: München/Bayern

Dachau Guards

Post by Arminiusder Cherusker1 » 08 Jan 2004 13:44

On the 29.04.45 520 members of the Waffen-SS wer killed from US-Soldiers and a part of them by inmates.
US-Col Prof.Dr. Howard A. Buechner, who was at that time as a Doctor in the rank of a Lt. in the 45.US-Inf.Div. "Thunderbird" was a witness and wrote in his book
"The hour of the Avenger" , Jan. 1986,
on page 99 about the victims:
at once shoot 122
murdered by inmates 40
shoot by "Birdeye 12
shoot on order by
Lt.Jack Bushyhead 346

total victims 520.

Most of the victims were wounded and came from Norge, Netherlands and Belgium and had been ordered to Dachau days before.
The former campguards had left before.

Rob - wssob2
Member
Posts: 2387
Joined: 15 Apr 2002 20:29
Location: MA, USA

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 08 Jan 2004 17:26

Agggggghhh -- this "internet legend" rears its ugly head again.

Buechner's book isn't historically accurate, and contradicts his own May 1945 testimoney to the US 7th Army Inspector General. Have you read it?
I have, and I'd be glad to post all the glaring omissions, inconsistences, assumptions etc. that his account contains if you'd like.

Buechner's 1986 book has spawned a whole Revisionist propaganda campaign (led by people like Ernst Zundel, leading gas-chamber denier and author of The Hitler We Loved and Why) - you can see his page on the "massacre" at http://www.zundelsite.org/english/antip ... _massacre/

The purpose of this campaign, in the morally inverse world of Revisionism, is of course to take the liberation of 30,000 Nazi slaves, which most people would consider a good thing, and make it into a morally bad thing, by claiming that the liberation was a "massacre" of innocent Waffen-SS guards who, of course, unwittingly, just showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with the sordid nastiness of the KZ system.

There is no evidence that there were exactly "560 SS guards" at Dachau on April 29th, 1945. Victor Maurer, the Swiss Red Cross representative who helped surrender the camp to the US 42nd Infantry Division's General Linden, estimated the number of SS guards at the camp to be roughly 120.

Buechner claims, for example, that "560 guards" were on the "roll call" of "Waffen-SS SS-Obersturmführer H. Skodzensky", who was transferred to Dachau from the "Eastern Front" 2 days before liberation.

Slight problem, however. There's no documentation or evidence of the roll-call Buechner mentions. Even worse, there's no Skodzensky. Yep - I've
asked Marc Rikmenspoel, Mark Yerger, Bernie Brule and even asked Tom Albright to look up the name Skodzensky on John Moore's database of 26,000 SS officers 1933-45. No Skodzensky on any SS officer list. Ever.

"Skodzensky" is the name journalist and former Dachau inmate Nerin Gun made up for his book The Day of the Americans. Gun's creative license has caused a lot of historical headaches! Just like Michael Selzer's Deliverance Day: The Last Hours of Dachau is embellised so much as to practically be fiction.

The REAL SS officer who surrendered Dachau was a 24-year old named Wicker - a former SS-TK member who served for most of the war in the SS-WVHA at Natzweiler-Struthof, Cochem, Mannheim-Sandhofen camps as well as Dachau and a short stint at Junkerschule Bad Tölz. Unlike "Skodzensky" - there's all sorts of info to be found on him.

The myth continues that the SS men killed by the GI's of the 45th and 42nd divisions were "Waffen-SS" front line troops. I've never seen any serious evidence to support the various claims that the "troops" were from the 5th or 11th or 17th SS divisions. Arminiusder Cherusker1 apparently thinks these SS troops were from the W. Europe, but I've seen other accounts that say they were Hungarian volksdeutsche. I have never seen any account that states if these men were from a specific W-SS AuE unit or any specific unit at all.

In all likelihood, the SS troops killed that day were scattered remnants of the Dachau SS administrative personnel, the KZ guards, and others that one would likely find at a military/prison installation and that didn't have the opportunity to change into mufti and disappear into the countryside like so many of their comrades, including camp commandant Weiss. The fact that some of the slain guards were wearing the late war SS cammo pattern uniforms is NOT proof that they were "frontline" W-SS. Gottlob Berger, head of the SS-HA and a great example of a Third Reich REMF, was also captured wearing SS cammies, but that doesn't make him into a Christen Tychsen.

In addition, the myth continues that "all" the "560" (Arminiusder Cherusker1 forgot to add the 30 SS guards "KIA" and the 10 SS guards "disguised SS men killed by inmates") were killed. Another myth - read Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp 1933-2001 by Harold Marcuse, published by Cambridge University Press - specifically p. 57 of the hardbound edition, which discusses how captured SS men were used to dig mass graves for the dead inmates on May 7th, 1945 and how 30 of the 130 captured SS men were used for garbage collection duty between 10-13 May 1945. (and see footnote #60 on page 423 which sites primary source material like the International Prisoner's Committee minutes, the Voice of America, and the Aug 3, 1945 edition of the Washington Evening Star

In addition, see footnote #21 on page 417 of Marcuse's book which states

For the account of Hans Linberger, a German survivor of one of the shootings, see Eric Kern, Meineid gegen Deutschland (Oldendorf: K.W. Schütz, 2nd edn, 1971 [1st edn 1968], 244-7 and 314f.


So it seems some SS men did survive the liberation after all.


Wasn't there an officer around to prevent these 'executions'? There were several, spontaneous executions of captured SS men in at least 4 main incidents.

For the "coal yard" incident (perhaps the most famous incident, as Signal Corps photographer T-4 Arland B. Musser took photos as it was happening) there was an officer - Lt. Col. Felix Sparks of the 157th IR, who personally intervened and halted the massacre and relieved the officer in charge of the unit (Lt. Walsh) Thanks to Sparks, only 17 of the 60-odd SS prisoners gathered at the coal yard were killed. Zundel and the rest of the fascist-friendly, "waffenista" crowd should thank Sparks for doing what Knochlein didn't do at Le Paradis, what Diekmann didn't do at Oradour or what Peiper didn't do at Malmedy.

Did US troops kill surrendered SS members at Dachau. Yes. Marcuse estimates perhaps 40-50, and I'd guess there were anywhere from 40-100 SS troops killed that day by GI's and former inmates. The 7th Army held an investigation within 2 weeks of the killings, and recommended disciplinary action to the perpetrators of the 45th ID. And Patton, commander of the Third Army (between April and the end of the war the 45th ID was transferred from the US 7th to the US 3rd Army) decided against further judicial inquiry. To him, there wasn't any point.

But from Jan- April 1945, over 100 Dachau inmates died PER DAY of overwork, execution, malnutrition and illness - well over 12,000 total - and that number doesn't include the 2,000 found dead on the second "death train" outside the camp or the 1,000+ plus inmates that died on the forced death march to Tegernsee, nor the 2,466 inmates who died between April 29th and June 16th 1945 despite the best efforts of US XV Corps medical personnel. 100 SS personnel died at Dachau on April 29th, 1945 and 31,000+ inmates were liberated from Nazi slavery.

Doesn't that last numerical comparison pretty much sum it up?

michael mills
Member
Posts: 8793
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by michael mills » 09 Jan 2004 00:14

To summarise the preceding post by Rob-WSSOB, up to 100 SSA personnel were arbitrarily killed at Dachau concentration camp on the day of its surrender to units of the United States army, both by liberated inmates and by members of the US army units.

The essential question, which Rob-WSSOB obfuscates by simply comparing the number of SS-personnel killed with the number of Dachau inmates who died of various causes in the last days before the surrender of the camp, is:

Were the SS personnel killed that day all resonsible for what had happended in the camp?

The persons most resonsible for atrocities against inmates were the camp administration staff, members of the SS-Totenkopf. They had direct supervision of, and contact with, the prisoners, and were in a position to inflict brutality on them on a daily basis. They tended to remain in the camps, and were generally not rotated to and from the front or other duties.

The guard detachments, which comprised the majority of the men who served at concentration camps, have to be distinguished from the camp administration staff. They provided perimeter security, and often were not allowed to enter the camp itself; they did not normally come into close contact with the prisoners. Unlike the camp administration staff, members of the guard detachments were routinely rotated between guard duty at the camps and frontline duty (which is the reason why the great majority of persons who served at concentration camps belonged to the guard detachments).

In an earlier post on this thread, I gave an example of such a rotation; at the end of 1944, men in the guard companies fit for frontline service were sent to the front and replaced by surplus Luftwaffe personnel drafted into the Waffen-SS. I also gave the source for that example - perhaps Rob-WSSOB could consult that source and tell us whehter it is right or wrong.

There were of course many cases of members of the guard companies shooting prisoners in alleged escape attempts. In some cases, they were put-up jobs, with the guard shooting a prisoner at random in order to get the benefits accruing to guards who prevented escape attempts; those acts would certainly be criminal.

But in other cases, they were genuine escape attempts, or more probably cases of despairing prisoners committting suicide by approaching the wire so as to be shot. In those case, the guard who shot is no more criminal than a prison guard in, say, a United States prison, who shoots an escaping prisoner who had been sent to prison by a corrupt court.

The bottom line is that members of the guard companies, who comprised by far the bulk of the personnel who served at concentration camps, bear overall far less responsibility for the criminal treatment of the prisoners.

In the case of Dachau there was an added dimension, in that there was a Waffen-SS base immediately adjacent to the camp but not connected with it. That base contained large numbers of SS-men, including many in hospital. Those persons had not been inside the concentration camp, and had not been in a position to participate in atrocities against the prisoners inside the camp.

So the question remains as to exactly which of the above three groups the up to 100 SS-men arbitrarily killed belonged. Were they all camp staff, and quite probably guilty of crimes to a greater or lesser extent? Were they members of the guard detachments? Were they men who had no connection with the camp whatever? Were they a mixture of all three groups? As Rob-WSSOB says, many of the actual camp staff had fled long before the surrender of the camp.

The lack of definite answers to the above questions shows the injust nature of the sort of arbitrary reprisal taken at Dachau, which Rob-WSSOB seems to see as morally justified, as compared with a proper investigation that identifies individuals and determines what the did or did not do.

A comparison with the surrender of Belsen might illustrate the point. The persons arrested and tried by the British were all camp staff, except for a couple of persons who had escorted arriving prisoners and had killed some of them on the way. The guard company at Belsen was provided by a Hungarian Volksdeutsche unit; even though some of them continued to shoot at prisoners after the arrival of the British troops, they were not arrested and put on trial, and in fact were retained under British command to maintain order in the camp after its surrender.

xcalibur
Member
Posts: 1457
Joined: 20 Apr 2003 15:12
Location: Pennsylvania

Post by xcalibur » 09 Jan 2004 02:13


TH Albright
Member
Posts: 346
Joined: 07 Mar 2003 13:37
Location: Arlington, VA

Post by TH Albright » 09 Jan 2004 18:36

Where the KL guard companies do bear true criminal culpability is the treatment of KL prisoners on the assorted "death marches" which dominated the life of the camps in the last two months of the war. The thousand of prisoners who were shot and brutalized during these evacuations were in main guarded and killed by KL guard personnel, who at this point were the dregs of the SS manpower pool. However, I agree with Michael on the demarcation of function and responsibilty between the guard units and camp administrative staff. When one reads accounts of KL "guards" brutalizing prisoners, its almost always either a capo, SS detail leader or SS block leader doing the brutalizing. On outside details, guard personnel were expected to guard the perimeter of the work site and not interact with the prisoners; they were encouraged to report cases of "loafing" to a capo or SS detail leader. And one cannot discount cases of guards, capos and SS detail leaders being in "cahoots" over exploitation of the work force; but at least in the camp standing orders, guards were to be a "passive" force except where security might be compromised. Sometimes, SS guard personnel represented the only "benevolent" or at least least malicious group in the SS camp hierarchy; they were easily corruptible and often "looked the other way" on outside details so that the prisoners could slack up when the detail leaders or capos were away.

Rob - wssob2
Member
Posts: 2387
Joined: 15 Apr 2002 20:29
Location: MA, USA

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 09 Jan 2004 20:29

Hi xcalibur - thanks for the link! I'm going to have to get that book.

I wanted to post part of the email I just wrote to the Mail Tribune's stringer:

The subject of the illegal killings by US troops has been shrouded in a lot of myth, propaganda and disinformation (more on that later). It is, unfortunately, a subject which Holocaust-deniers and "fascist-friendly" individuals attempt to use to discredit the historical significance of the event as a "massacre" rather than a "liberation" - for example, see Ernst Zundel's (leading gas-chamber denier and author of The Hitler We Loved and Why) - web page on the "massacre" at http://www.zundelsite.org/english/antip ... _massacre/

As you mention, there were several incidents of possible illegal killings committed by US troops - the railroad cars incident by Lt. Walsh & Pvt. Pruitt, the coal yard incident, and the Tower B killings being the most prominent. The circumstances of each incident vary slightly, and I wanted to nick pick on a couple of phrases you used!

First, regarding the "coal yard" incident - I would disagree with your phrase "several hundred SS officers" - the GI's interviewed in the 7th Army report estimated anywhere between 50-100 SS troops gathered in the coal yard, and the generally accepted figure is 60. Second, there's no evidence to indicate that these SS men were all "officers" - but were more likely a smattering of all ranks and specialites.

I would disagree with the use of the term "unarmed noncombatants" - specifically in the case of the SS troops at Tower B. These troops were wearing SS combat cammo fatigues plus full combat kit (canteen, ammo pouches, etc.) and were stationed in a guard tower with weapons. After the Americans surrounded the Tower and forced the SS men out, it seems that while the 12-17 SS men were being searched for weapons as they stood between the tower and the moat one of them made a wrong "sudden move" and the GI's mowed them down. Several of the testimonies taken during the US 7th Army Inspector General's collaborate on how one or more of the SS men still carried side arms (specifically T-3 Henry Wells interrogation) that some did not have their hands up (Lt. Walsh interrogation) and make potentially threatening movements. Conversely, other GI testimony indicated that the SS men were pushed into the moat and then shot, and 222nd Infantry Regiment officer Fellenz's account is certainly embellished to put himself in a more heroic light.

However, what is remarkably consistent among inmate and GI accounts (both from the 7thA IG's report, contemporary letters of the incident as reproduced in books like "Dachau Liberated" and postwar recollections by veterans) of the Tower B incident is the comment that the SS men in the tower fired at the GI's and were thus armed and were active combatants contesting the liberation of the camp by US troops.

According to Col. Foster (a great guy with whom I've corresponded on the subject of Dachau) the 7th Army IG report on the Dachau incident was misfiled under "157th Infantry Division" - which of course leads to speculation that it was deliberately buried it in the stacks (BTW there was no US "157th Infantry Division" in WWII) However, having read many media reports on current events in Iraq in the past year, and having seen multiple incidents of "506th Parachute Infantry Division" instead of "506th Parachute Infantry REGIMENT", I'm more willing to believe it was a case of human error then deliberate deviousness.

Getting back to the myth, propaganda and disinformation - it's incredibly difficult to get the whole truth regarding the liberation at Dachau for a number of reasons, which can basically be summed up as everyone involved had an angle:

You can't fully understand Dachau on April 29, 1945 without knowing about the "who liberated Dachau first?" controversy between the US 42nd "Rainbow" and US 45th "Thunderbird" division that has simmered for the past 49 years. It seems that the 45th Division was authorized by the XV corps to liberate the KZ, but that General Linden of the 42nd, prompted by journalist Marguerite Higgins (the Ashleigh Banfield of her day), saw the PR value of a good 'ol liberate the KZ story and decided to liberate the camp themselves - a decision which ended up with Lt. Col. Sparks of the 45th Division and General Linden of the 42nd Division in a screaming match with pistols drawn and swagger sticks wagging in front of the concentration camp main gate as to who was in charge. Needless to say, THIS aspect of the liberation didn't make it in the 7th Army's report! Sparks, in fact, was relieved of command the next day and sent back to the States to get him away from General Linden's wrath - a sad ending to an otherwise illustrious combat career.

Marguerite Higgins got her scoop after nearly being crushed to death by a throng of inmates. But from the very beginning and down through the years, the individuals who've written about the liberation add their own embellishments, inventions and distortions to the story:

- Howard Curran's May 1st article 1945 in The New York Times which adds US tanks that weren't there and a "furious battle" that didn't occur

- Dachau survivor and journalist, Nerin Gun who invented the sinister, surrendering SS commander "Skodzensky"

- Michael Selzer's Deliverance Day which so embellishes the events and replaces the names with pseudonyms as almost to be fiction

- And Howard Buechner's Hour of the Avenger - the inspiration for many neo-Nazi apologists - which multiplies the number of spontaneous shootings and increases the body count of SS slain from 17 to 346, not only contradicting collaborating accounts that he sites in his own book but contradicting his own 1945 testimony to the IG.

During the course of the liberation, the GI's were unbelievably sickened by what they saw, and shot some SS personnel in unpremeditated, spontaneous incidents and allowed KZ inmates to kill SS guards and inmate "kapos." These incidents were sad, tragic, unfortunate, unwarranted and perhaps unjust. But we need critical analysis and objectivity to keep these events in historical perspective.

US troops at Dachau on April 29, 1945 killed 60-100 SS troops while liberating 31,000 slaves from Nazi tyranny - thus terminating an institution of SS cruelty and death that killed over 12,000 inmates in the first 4 months of 1945, where 2,000 corpses were found on a train literally on the camp's back doorstep, 4,000 bodies in the crematorium werehouses, 1,000 dead inmates scattered throughout the camp, not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of inmates who died on the forced marches out of the camp during the last month of the war. Even the Dachau water supply was poisoned with typhus due to the effluvia of corpses from the mass graves nearby.

Untimately, the real "war crime" at Dachau on April 29th, 1945 was Dachau itself.

BTW Mr. Mills - give me a moment to respond to your recent post - R

TH Albright
Member
Posts: 346
Joined: 07 Mar 2003 13:37
Location: Arlington, VA

Post by TH Albright » 09 Jan 2004 20:35

A further note: Fritz Degelow commanded the SS-Totenkopfwachsturmbanne Dachau from 1944-45 and was condemned to death (later commuted to 20 years imprisonment) during the Dachau KL war crimes trials of Nov-Dec 1945. The charges against him involved complicity in the deaths of hundreds of inmates during the various Dachau "evacuations". i.e., death marches, prior to the camp's liberation.

Degelow served in the Waffen SS prior to his transfer to KL Dachau in 1944, being a company chef in SS-Ersatz Btl "Westland" 1941-43 and SS PzGd AuE Btl 5. and later served on the staff of the II and VI SS Pz Korps 1943-44.

Rob - wssob2
Member
Posts: 2387
Joined: 15 Apr 2002 20:29
Location: MA, USA

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 09 Jan 2004 21:23

In the autumn of 1944, the guard companies at Dachau had been sent to the front. They had been replaced by Luftwaffe personnel no longer fit for active service at the front; these men had been transferred to the Waffen-SS for the purpose of serving as camp guards.


Please provide exact source to collorborate your statement, and please provide additional information definitely linking the transfer of Luftwaffe personnel specifically into the Dachau KL Guard detachment.

From summer 1944 onwards, the SS did transfer Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine personnel into SS units. This was due in part to Himmler’s gaining control over raising and distribution of replacements for the German armed forces after the July 20th bomb plot. It was also due to the SS increased efforts to utilize concentration camp slave labor as armaments workers. These replacement troops did enter the KZ system, often to guard inmates as they walked to and from, for example, their protective custody compound to their place of work. But you need to link the general phenomena of Luftwaffe transfers to the SS in 1944-45 to a specific, documented example at Dachau.

Whether any or all of those former Luftwaffe-men committed any crimes against the prisoners they were guarding is a moot point, and one that would need to be determined by further research.


As TH Albright pointed out, SS guard units in the last 2 months of the war drove Dachau KZ inmates on forced marches, during which many inmates were shot, beaten to death or died of exhaustion and exposure. These marches have already been well documented & I can provide examples if you need them.

One of the main things that had enraged the US soldiers who captured the camp was the discovery of a train full of the bodies of prisoners transferred to Dachau who had died in transit from hunger and exposure. It is doubtful whether the Dachau camp staff or guards could have reasonably been held responsible for those deaths, since most of them occurred before the arrival of the train at Dachau.


However, we do know that the second train (the one with the bodies) arrived the day before liberation – April 28th, and that GI’s who liberated the camp on the 29th and who visited the camp in the days thereafter all describe some of the corpses both in the rail cars and alongside them as having suffered life-terminating gunshot wounds.

As Marcus has pointed out, among the German personnel captured at Dachau were persons stationed in a Waffen-SS camp located next to the concentration camp but not associated with it.


They are not separate but one single, combined, coherent SS installation. The only thing separating the protective custody compound (which is present-day "concentration camp" memorial) from the rest of the SS installation was a moat and a barbed wire fence. Inmates would work at the SS hospital and factories just outside the protective custody compound. The SS officer’s quarters are a 200-meter walk from the Jourhaus (protective custody compound main gate), as is the crematorium. The idea that the "W-SS" compound" was "separate" from the KZ" is incorrect. I can post several maps of the 1945 camp layout if you require.

Many of them were patients in the hospital at that camp. I do not know whether the persons machine-gunned by enraged US soldiers were members of the concentration camp guard companies, members of the camp staff itself, or persons from the Waffen-SS camp; probably a mixture.


This is discussed in Flint Whitlock’s history of the 45th Division, The Rock of Anzio . On pg. 364 he has an excerpt from Pvt. John Lee regarding the American troops entering SS main hospital at Dachau. Briefly summarized:

a) After encountering the death train, Walsh and I company enter the infirmary area. Everyone is ordered out of the building(s) – doctors, nurses, medics, patients and inmates

b) Some individuals are clearly feigning injury. Several of the inmates (who Private Lee describes as "very helpful") point out SS men who are disguised wearing Wehrmacht uniforms

c) 2 inmates begin to beat a German medic with shovels. One of the inmates tells the GI’s (by dropping his pants and gesticulating) that the German was some how responsible for his castration (I guess you don’t forget the guy who did THAT to you!) The US troops stop the beating.

d) All SS personnel are separated from other personnel and herded into a coal yard, setting the stage for the coal yard shooting that Sparks stopped, but not before 17 SS men were killed.

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”