Massacre of SS guards at Dachau

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Rob - wssob2
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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 18 Jan 2004 05:02

Hi folks – I wanted to clarify something

I mentioned how I had found the following unit in Kurt Mehner’s book:

SS-Verw Ers. Abt. i..e Ers. Abt. der SS-Verv D. Dachau

I translated it as "SS Administrative Replacement Detachment" – I’d like to revise my translation to be "SS Wounded Replacement Detachment" – the German WWII military acronym "Verw" can mean administration or wounded.

At
http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScr ... erger.html

SS trooper and coal yard shooting survivor Hans Linberger is described as a one-armed member of a "reserve kompanie" at Dachau. If we change "Verw" to mean wounded, then SS-Verw Ers. Abt. i..e Ers. Abt. der SS-Verv D. Dachau might well be the reserve company mentioned in the 1981 W-SS Belgian veteran’s magazine referred to at the URL above.

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Michael Miller
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...

Post by Michael Miller » 18 Jan 2004 05:37

This was a war crime, whether they did it in reaction to all the horror they witnessed upon liberating this hellhole or whether they did it out of revenge for Malmedy. I believe that both possible motivations might explain what happened, but neither one fully mitigates it.

But it happened, proving that American soldiers, like soldiers of all other armies, are capable of losing their discipline and their cool- especially when confronted with the horrors of a place like Dachau. I've never fought my way from Normandy through Huertgen and the Bulge and across the Rhine and into Bavaria, though, so I will reserve my judgment of these men and look at the big picture: They freed Europe and they freed thousands at Dachau. That's the bottom line, for me at least.
But I'm grateful for all the discussion preceding this post, as I've learned a lot from [almost] everyone involved, particulary Rob AND Michael Mills.

~ Mike Miller
Last edited by Michael Miller on 18 Jan 2004 21:44, edited 1 time in total.

Rob - wssob2
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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 18 Jan 2004 07:25

Arminiusder wrote:


But this wasn't the first warcrime of this famous unit that day.
Some hours before they murdered 43 soldiers of the Waffen-SS in Webling, a little village near Dachau, a f t e r they had surrendered.It was a unit of the 222nd Inf. Regiment. The commanding officer killed
SS-Hauptsturmführer Veit-Heinrich Truchsess von Wetzhausen with his spade with such force that his skull was cleft in two.



Arminiusder is referring to an article on Dachau written by Andrew Mollo in Issue #27 of After the Battle, first published in 1980.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, After the Battle (ATB) is a magazine whose purpose it to publish photographs and articles that compare how a historical point of interest appeared during WWII and what it looks like now. The feature article in this particular issue is, of course, about the Dachau KZ, and include photos were taken Mollo during his August 1979 visit that compare, for example, what Tower B looked like in 1945 and what it looked like in 1979.

Andrew Mollo is British WWII historian and television producer who has written several books on period uniforms and insignia. He’s considered a specialist in German WWII, especially SS, uniforms and first made a name for himself by making It Happened Here – an independent movie about life in the UK under German occupation.

Mollo visited Dachau and continued on to Webling because a) it was close by and b) he had a set of US Army Signal Corps photos taken in April 1945, including one which included a road sign "Aichach 32.5 Km", thus allowing Mollo to find the exact spot in 1979.

Here’s a synopsis of the article:The Signal Corps photos show a group of US troops approaching Webling, taking SS prisoners, and approached and walking next to dead SS troops. Mollo drives to Webling, shows the photos to an "old farmer." The farmer tells Mollo that he was there when the Signal Corps photos were taken, and that all the 43 SS troops guarding the Webling hamlet were executed by the GI’s in several consecutive incidents .

Mollo tacked on the "Webling Incident" as an addendum to his Dachau article and describes it as a "terrible, yet forgotten incident" but doesn’t specifically call it a war crime. The "incident" has made it was into various post-1980 accounts of the Dachau liberation, since many post 1980 researchers have picked up ATB #27 as a secondary source to reference and, of course, has made its way into the arguments of people who which to claim that the troops of the 42nd Division had a propensity of war crimes, especially on April 29th.

Mollo was writing under a deadline, and the article appears to be hastily written and a LOT of conjecture. Before anyone goes and labels Webling as a bona-fide, signed, sealed, delivered, certified and notorized American war crime, I’d ask them to consider a couple of points:

a) Mollo never gives a name to the 80-year-old German farmer – so the entire spin of photographs-depicting-a-war-crime is based on an interview with an unnamed source who is now most likely passed away. It is unclear if the unidentified farmer has any connection to "Herr Furtmayer" – the farm owner supposedly shot by the GI’s.

b) Mollo doesn’t get any more specific than identifying the GI’s as troops of the 222nd IR, 42nd ID, US XV Corps, US 7th Army, which unfortunately isn’t specific enough. An infantry regiment can have 3,500 men in it, so without getting more precise information about the unit identity of the GI’s in the photographs (e.g. First Battalion, Company B, I&R platoon etc.) there is no evidence to indicate that the troops photographed are the ones that went on to liberate the Dachau KZ or that went on to shoot the SS guards at Tower B.

c) The SS troops are supposedly "Waffen-SS" (of course – what else) that came from Dachau that morning to hold up the American advance. (What a platoon of SS troops armed with nothing more than light infantry weapons could do to "hold up" the advance of the US 42nd Infantry and 20th Armored divisions didn’t apparently didn’t enter Mollo’s mind) The SS commanding officer’s aristocratic name "Freiherr von Truchsess from Augsburg" is of course a great historical "hook" for anyone who wants to attempt to find further information about this event. Von Truchsess supposedly gets his head split and the 17 surrendered SS troops under his command are shot in front of an earthen bank in the farmyard.

d) None of the Signal Corps photos show any SS men being executed. Pictures SC207125, 126 and 128 show SS troops surrendering to GI’s. SC207127 shows 3 GI’s checking a shallow defensive trench filled with a couple rifles, grenades and at least 1 dead SS trooper. Mollo is suspicious of the captured-captured-dead-captured numbering sequence of the photos, and goes on in a caption to explain that the photos are out of sequence (he prefers a captured-captured-captured-dead sequence, in which the corpse in the last photo is supposedly a captured SS trooper executed by the GI’s) and were probably renumbered after the war.

e) Mollo’s account is inconsistent – on page 31 he mentioned that "one American soldier was killed" during the advance on Webling and yet mentions on page 33 that the one of the US SC photo captions claims the US troops "suffered no casualties". The claim of a US casualty (which is supposedly what set off the massacre) supposedly comes from the farmer. Here’s another historical "hook" for someone to research. US Army casualty information for WWII is, in the main, excellent – it would be quite possible to identify the unit of GI’s at Webling by researching the 42nd ID casualty lists for that day. Many US divisional veteran’s organizations list their WWII casualties on their websites.

f) The caption mentioned above also includes a reference to 22 SS prisoners, whereas the unnamed German farmer claims no SS prisoners and 43 SS men killed. Trying to reconcile this difference will be difficult. Unfortunately, at this late stage of the war, most US divisions stopped keeping track of the name, branch, rank, serial number, etc. of the captured German troops because there just were too many of them – literally 1,000’s of German troops would surrender to each American division daily in the late spring of 1945.

g) Another historical "hook" to research is the name T-5 (Technican 5th Grade) J.W. Bownen – the Signal Corps photographer.who took the photographs.

h) Here’s a typical example of Mollo’s writing style:

A careful study of this photo would suggest that these men (who may or may not be the men in photo 207125) had surrendered and had been ordered to lay down their weapons before surrendering. In any event the photo clearly shows rifles, grenades, and ammunition magazines neatly laid out on the bank while their belts are on the track where they have fallen when removed…


There’s a lot of conditional verb tense (would suggest, may or may not) and the "ordered to lay down their weapons" is pure speculation. Mollo mentions a the ammo belts – one in the forground with Kar 98 ammo pouches - next to an entrenching tool, 6+ stick grenades, a pineapple grenade and 2 rifles - and yet the SS corpse clearly still has his belt on because there’s a pouch and a canteen with webbing still attached to it! Perhaps an equally valid speculation could be GI’s check out defensive positions formerly manned by SS troops. In the foreground, a GI with a carbine regards the corpse of an SS Captain, who was shot and killed by the advancing Americans. His death quickly resulted in the surrender of the remaining SS troops.

My point isn’t to engage in some intellectual gymnastics in order to absolve 42nd ID troops of any wrongdoing, but to point out that

1. Mollo’s research, although good for a first pass, is sloppy and speculative.

2. However, there’s enough historical "hooks" for someone to research the incident further and uncover more details and facts.

I don’t think these Signal Corps photos taken at Webling show a war crime; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if, with further research and documentation, the significance of the event could point to an illegal killing. By late April 1945 the GI’s knew the war was won and they certainly had short-time fever – no-one wanted to be come a casualty at that late a stage – they just wanted to go home. And they would certainly be very, very angry at German troops – especially SS troops, given their unsavory reputation – for doing stupid, pointless, rearguard actions like Webling. Given that, I imagine that GI’s would be ruthless to eliminate any resistence whatsoever – the sooner they killed the Nazi beast, the sooner they could get home to Brooklyn in one piece.

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 18 Jan 2004 07:48

They freed Europe and they freed thousands at Dachau. That's the bottom line, for me at least.


Yep. For me too. And for many, many others. What I was referring to by "historical significance."

BTW my father-in-law was with the US 89th Infantry Division which liberated the Ohrdruf KZ. About 10 years ago he when to a rememberance ceremony at the USHMM in DC, an event in which complete strangers - former inmates/Holocaust survivors - came up to him, hugged him and said "thank you, thank you" over and over again. He said it was one of the most intense experiences of his life - experiencing that soul-deep gratefulness from people who literally owed their life and the lives of their children and grandchildren to men like him.

My cousin was also with the US 30th Field Hospital and was stationed at the Ebensee KZ in May 1945. Here's in part what he wrote about his experiences there:

"...For us, even though we had read and heard of such horrors for the past few weeks, the reality was a staggering blow. For them - or a least for those who could still react in any way - the liberation was a miracle in a world of dispair, and all Americans were and will always be a race of mortal gods. When I walked into one of the frightfully crowded barracks on the first night, there were three pitifully weak cheers for the American Army. A few who were apparently ex-soldiers struggled to their feet in an attempt to salute and someone tried to sing "Over There." I thanked them as well as I could and fled precipitously before I broke down completely. This was such a sad commentary on a race supposedly civilized and exposed to centuries of Christianity, but I had given up even attempting to answer the question of how human beings could do all this. The whole damn country was pathological, and I am no psychiatrist."

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 18 Jan 2004 08:21

I personally have little patience for the petty dispute over who was the first to liberate Dachau, but for what it's worth I think that General Linden's arrival, accompanied by Marguerite Higgins, was nothing much more than a publicity stunt.


Exactly. And one of the reasons any investigation into this incident was canned by both Patton and the 7th Army commander.

Think about it: you have a couple of spontaneous, illegal killings of surrendered SS troops by 42nd and 45th GI's during the liberation of the Dachau KZ, which will mar or at least muddy the liberation "angle" of the story and perhaps provide a heap of "tu quoque" legal propaganda to the defendants at Nuremburg ("tu quoque" is a legal term for a "you too" rebuttal, e.g. Dachau itself is a war crime but "you too" committed a war crime at Dachau by killing the SS troops, etc.)

In addition, you've got General Linden and party not only interfering with the operations of a fellow US unit (Sparks from the 45th) attempting to achieve it's objective (liberate the KZ) plus all the in-house Army politics it implies (Linden threatening Sparks with a court martial, Sparks threatening Linden with a .45, etc.) - you've got the media involved (Ms. Higgins) so you know if you start an investigation its going to be all over the papers in the worst way.

It's just a nightmare scenario all around for a senior commander, especially one like Patton who appreciated the value of good publicity and knew the absolute disaster of bad publicity all too well. Thus: "Gentlemen, this case is now closed" and into the circular file it goes.

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Post by Penn44 » 18 Jan 2004 10:31

Rob - WSSOB wrote:Think about it: you have a couple of spontaneous, illegal killings of surrendered SS troops by 42nd and 45th GI's during the liberation of the Dachau KZ, which will mar or at least muddy the liberation "angle" of the story and perhaps provide a heap of "tu quoque" legal propaganda to the defendants at Nuremburg ("tu quoque" is a legal term for a "you too" rebuttal, e.g. Dachau itself is a war crime but "you too" committed a war crime at Dachau by killing the SS troops, etc.)


Unfortunately, Revisionists have also taken up this very line of argument to relativize Nazi war crimes in order to distort the historical and moral significance of these crimes. One only has to read the posts within this forum to see how extensively they make use of this argument.


Penn44

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Dachau guards

Post by Arminiusder Cherusker1 » 22 Jan 2004 10:52

As I said before, you can't argue with ROB, because he wants to denie the truth.
Irrfutable facts are:
°43 members of the Waffen-SS were murdered on the 29th April 1945 in
Webling after they had surrendered to the UD-Army
°this 43 men had absolutely nothing to do with the KZ in Dachau
°they didn't come from Dachau
°on the ground of family Furtmayr in Webling - the son, who was a witness
is still alive - exactly on the place where the "Incident" happened, we
build a little memorial with the words
Zum Gedenken an 43 deutsche Soldaten
29. April 1945

°We had to remove the former text because the community of Dachau
was anxious (pol. correct)
°We meet every year on 29th of April and on Volkstrauertag to remember
our comrades
° We don't need an unknown farmer, we and family Furtmayr know what
happened
° You can have a look to this memorial in the Testsection

/Rudi

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 23 Jan 2004 05:55

As I said before, you can't argue with ROB, because he wants to denie [sic] the truth


Arminiusder, I'm not interested in denial, I'm interested in evidence, which you have an exceedingly difficult time providing. I'm also looking for objective facts rather than subjective "truth."

Irrfutable facts are:
°43 members of the Waffen-SS were murdered on the 29th April 1945 in
Webling after they had surrendered to the UD-Army


How do you know? Prove to us that the photo with the caption mentioning "22 prisoners" is wrong. Go ahead and post your 43 names, tie them into the volksbund database, provide biographical material on several of them including unit assignments. Give me the names of the German witness and the French POWs. Give me the specific American unit and the commander's name. Give me something else besides 1 article written in 1 magazine 25 years ago.

°this 43 men had absolutely nothing to do with the KZ in Dachau


Then why does Mollo write "The SS unit had left Dachau that morning with orders to establish a defensive screen and hold up the Americans advance for as long as possible in the vicinity of Webling."?

°they didn't come from Dachau


And so they came from...Berlin? Danzig? Rio?

°on the ground of family Furtmayr in Webling


Now we might be getting somewhere. This must be the "Herr Furtmayer" Mollo mentions.

- the son, who was a witness is still alive


Would this be the 80-year old witness Mollo interviewed in 1979? So he'd be 105 now. Or is this someone else? What about the French POWs Mollo mentions at the farm? So the GI's kill 18 SS men in the farm yard in front of French POWs and assorted German civilians? Why wouldn't they kill the civilians that were hiding with the SS men in the farmhouse cellars as well so as to eliminate witnesses?



- exactly on the place where the "Incident" happened, we
build a little memorial with the words
Zum Gedenken an 43 deutsche Soldaten
29. April 1945


So, who's "we"?

°We had to remove the former text


And what did the former text say?


because the community of Dachau
was anxious (pol. correct)


So the town's anxiousness about a shrine to a supposed massacre site of Waffen-SS "martyrs" is a case of political correctness run amok? Maybe the Dachau tourist bus can add the farm to the itinerary and drop the crematorium stop.



°We meet every year on 29th of April and on Volkstrauertag to remember
our comrades


So you consider former SS men your "comrades" and like to remember them on Memorial Day?


° We don't need an unknown farmer, we and family Furtmayr know what
happened


If you "know what happened" then why don't you provide more factual information about it?


° You can have a look to this memorial in the Testsection


Why not post it here?

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 23 Jan 2004 06:16

Speaking of "posting it here," earlier in the thread I mentioned the germandaggers.com post of the "death's head" collar tab taken from a killed SS trooper at Dachau. Here it is:

Image

Here's a photo of the dead SS trooper, taken by the GI who took the tab. The SS man was apparently was beaten to death and then thrown on a pile of bodies in the Dachau crematorium.

Image

Here's the back of the photo with the GI's writing:

Image

I'm going to try to see if I can find out more about the GI who took the photo and the tab from the current owner - what unit the GI was with, that sort of thing. If I find out anything, I will post an update here.

This tab supposedly taken at Dachau is VERY interesting as it's a concentration-camp "death's head" SS tab not a Waffen-SS "lightning runes" tab. It could be evidence that not all of the SS men killed during liberation were "innocent" frontline W-SS troops but that some of them were the regular SS KZ personnel. I will also try to find a written reference to the SS corpse on the pile of bodies in the crematorium.

My Buechner post is still in the works. Stay tuned.

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Post by Caldric » 23 Jan 2004 07:31

Wow I love your knowledge Rob, thanks for sharing it. I also take a great deal of interest in your extensive web site. I would ask everyone to visit it because the work is amazing!

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Post by walterkaschner » 23 Jan 2004 07:31

Rob-WSSOB,

I just want to express my appreciation for the detailed knowledge and analysis you have brought to this thread. IMHO your approach reflects the best historians can offer - get out the pick and shovel and dig down to the bottom of things. We must first get the facts straight and then make our judgments. You have added greatly to my own understanding of the situation at the liberation of Dachau, and particularly raised serious questions as to the accuracy of what reportedly transpired at Webling - concerning which latter the extent of my knowledge was based on reports obviously based on Andrew Mollo's article, which I now regret to have blindly accepted.

Unfortunately it is extremely difficult for us rank amateurs to avoid relying on secondary sources, and we should be particularly grateful to contributors such as you who have taken the time and effort to compile the evidence and sort through it with an analytical mind. I doff my hat to you!

Regards, kaschner

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Post by Dan » 23 Jan 2004 13:14

I wonder where the GI that took the picture of the murdered guard got the idea from that people were killed in gas chambers at Dachau. Could this have been the result of propaganda the GIs were exposed to before the liberation of the camp? If so, it could help to explain why they engaged in murder.

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Post by TH Albright » 23 Jan 2004 13:53

Great work Rob..also if you notice on the Totenkopf collar tab is the the letter indicating that the wearer was a member of the Kommandant's staff, thus very involved in the day-to-day running of the camp. Indeed a keeper of the inner circle of hell which at least part of the camp had become over the last three months of the war. Like Buchenwald, it is interesting that Dachau had become socially "stratified" during the war, between German and Western European prisoners, who represented the camp's middle and upper "classes", and the underclasses of Eastern peoples and Jews. This explains the "good" condition of many of the prisoners seen in the liberation of both camps as well as the horrid condition of the masses, many whom had arrived at both camps in the last 6 months of the war.

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Post by Wolfensteiner » 23 Jan 2004 15:13

Sorry, I just caught up with this thread and find it really interesting. Is what you guys are arguing about: The real camp stuff had fled, so a combat unit was sent to surrender the camp and it wasent right that the combat troops were executed? It should have been the totenkopf division that really controlled the camp?

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Post by Panzer Faust » 23 Feb 2004 22:25

JohnRayTaylor wrote:Caldric are you saying US troops never committed a war crime?

JohnRayTaylor


At Dachau, American 'soldiers' executed 560 unarmed, and surrendered SS personnel against a wall.

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