For years, I wondered why the staff at the Dachau concentration camp had left behind a gas chamber when they escaped the night before the American liberators arrived. The Americans had already found the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945 and the main Buchenwald camp on April 11, 1945. Bergen-Belsen had been turned over to the British on April 15, 1945. There had been plenty of time to blow up the Dachau gas chamber before the Americans arrived on April 29, 1945. So why did the SS men leave evidence of war crimes behind for the Americans to find?
The fact that the acting Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, and his men escaped before the Americans got there means that they were expecting to be charged with war crimes, or maybe even shot without being put on trial. So why did they leave evidence behind?
I finally learned the answer to this question a couple of years ago, and the answer may surprise you. (more…)