When American soldiers of the US Seventh Army arrived on April 29, 1945 to liberate the concentration camp at Dachau, they found that the inmates in the camp, who were predominantly Communists and other anti-Nazi political prisoners, had organized into an International Committee, headed by a Belgian medical doctor named Albert Guérisse, who was a captured British SOE agent.
Guérisse was using the fake name of Patrick O’Leary and pretending to be Canadian. Patrick O’Leary spoke perfect English and he and his fellow Committee members were very anxious to give a guided tour of the camp to the American liberators and the newspaper reporters who accompanied them. They particularly wanted to show them the five gas chambers outside the prison compound in the new crematorium building, named Baracke X.
Photo of Barracke X taken a few days after Dachau was liberated
The Dachau Memorial Site is still under the control of the International Committe of Dachau. That is why the sign, shown in the photo below, tells visitors to the Dachau Memorial Site today, that a gas chamber in the Barracke X building was used to gas individual prisoners and small groups. So what are the names of the individuals who were gassed? Sadly, no one knows.
Sign outside the large crematorium at Dachau
When I visited Dachau in May 2001, the sign shown in the photo below was inside what looked like a shower room in Barracke X.
This sign was inside the Dachau "gas chamber" from May 1965 to May 2003
In May 1965, a portable sign, which said in 5 languages that it was “never used as a gas chamber” or “never put into operation,” was placed in the Dachau gas chamber when a Memorial Site on the grounds of the former concentration camp was first opened to the public. This sign was still there when I visited the Memorial Site in May 2001, but by May 2003, it had been removed.
The English version of the sign read: Gas Chamber disguised as a “shower room” – never used as a gas chamber. This implies that the room may have been used for something other than a gas chamber, like maybe a shower room.
When the American liberators arrived on April 29, 1945, the Baracke X building had been in existence for two years but, according to the sign that was shown to visitors from May 1965 to May 2003, the room marked “Brausebad” had never been used as a gas chamber. When the liberators arrived, the undressing room, next to the Brausebad, was furnished with soap and fresh towels, indicating that the “gas chamber” might have been used as a shower room, except that the shower heads, as seen today, are not connected to any pipes, neither water pipes nor gas pipes. If the room marked “Brausebad” was not used for gassing, nor for showers, this means that three rooms (the waiting room, undressing room and shower room) were not used for anything for two years, yet in the midst of all the chaos in the camp in the last days of the war, soap and towels were still kept in the undressing room so that the American liberators would not suspect that the shower room was really a homicidal gas chamber.
Photo taken by American soldier Sidney Blau on April 30, 1945 -- the day after Dachau was liberated
The U.S. Seventh Army’s caption on the photo above was this:
Gas chambers, conveniently located to the crematory, are examined by a soldier of the U.S. Seventh Army. These chambers were used by Nazi guards for killing prisoners of the infamous Dachau concentration camp.
Note that the caption on the photo said “Gas chambers” (plural); there were four doors into four small rooms, plus the room that looked like a shower room. The door shown in the photo above has the word “Gaszeit” (Gas Time) written on it. No explanation was given by the American liberators for how the victims were persuaded to go through the four doors with the word Gas Time on them, nor why the largest of the five gas chambers in the Barracke X building had the word “Brausebad” (Shower Bath) written above the door.
We now know that the door shown in the photo above was a door into a disinfection chamber where the clothing of the prisoners was disinfected with Zyklon-B to kill the lice that spreads typhus.
Beginning in February 1942, Jews in Germany and the German-occupied countries were rounded up by the Nazis and deported to the East, according to plans made at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.
In April 1942, the decision was made to build a new crematorium with four ovens at Dachau; four disinfection chambers and a homicidal gas chamber were to be included in the new building which was to be called Baracke X.
On the blueprints for Baracke X, the homicidal gas chamber was called a shower room, but each of the four disinfection chambers was called a Gaskammer, the German word for gas chamber. An order was issued from Berlin on July 23, 1942 to begin construction of Baracke X at a cost of 150,000 Reichsmark.
By the time that Baracke X was finished in 1943, millions of European Jews had already been killed in the gas chambers at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor after being transported to the East, and millions more were destined to be sent to the death camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek. Dachau was mainly a camp for Communist political prisoners, anti-Fascist resistance fighters, most of whom were Catholic, and Soviet POWs. When Dachau was liberated, most of the Jews there had only recently arrived, after being evacuated from other camps.
If it is true, as the sign at the Dachau Memorial Site now tells visitors, that prisoners were gassed at Dachau, why were none of the staff members, who were put on trial by the American Military Tribunal, charged with gassing these prisoners? Simple. The names of the victims are unknown. The AMT charged the Germans only with crimes committed against persons who were from the Allied countries. Since the names are unknown, it cannot be determined whether or not they were citizens of Allied countries.
Nerin E. Gun wrote in his book Day of the Americans that he was given the job of taking down the names of Hungarian Jewish women as they entered the Dachau gas chamber, since he could speak Hungarian. Hungary was an ally of Germany, so these victims didn’t count, as far as the rules of the AMT were concerned.
There is a famous document called the Lachout document which is very controversial. You can see a photo of the original document here. On the famous Nizkor website, you can read here that the Lachout document is a fake. On the equally famous IHR website, you can read here that the Lachout document is genuine.
The English translation of the Lachout document is reprinted below:
Military Police Service Vienna, Oct. 1, 1948
Circular No 31/48
1. The Allied Investigation Commission has established so far
that no persons were killed by the use of poison gas in the
following concentration camps: Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald,
Dachau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Mauthausen and its
extension camps, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Niederhagen
(Wewelsburg), Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, Stutthof,
In all these cases it could be proved that the confessions
were the result of torture and the testimonies were false.
This fact has to be taken into account in war crime
investigations and interrogations.
Former concentration camp prisoners testifying that persons,
especially Jews, were killed with poison gas in these
concentration camps, are to be informed of this finding by the
Allied Investigation Commissions. Should they insist in their
testimony, a charge of false testimony is to be filed against
2. Paragraph 1 of circular 15/48 can be canceled.
The commander of the
Military Police Service:
After Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945, the official report of the US Seventh Army was printed as a book entitled Dachau Liberated: The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army, Released Within Days of the Camp’s Liberation by Elements of the 42nd and 45th Divisions. The Report was based on two days of interviewing 20 political prisoners at Dachau; the prisoners told the Americans that both the shower room and the four disinfection chambers were used as homicidal gas chambers.
The following quote is from The Official Report:
“When the American troops arrived on 29 April 1945, there were approximately 32,500 estimated internees of all nationalities, the Poles predominating. During this period, the camp was notorious for its cruelty, but within the last six or eight months, some ‘token’ improvement was noted in the treatment of the internees. However, the new crematorium was completed in May 1944, and the gas chambers, a total of five, were used for the executions and the disposals of the bodies.”
(The Baracke X building and the five gas chambers were actually completed in May 1943.)
According to The Official Report, there was a total of 29,138 Jews brought to Dachau from other camps between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944. The report claimed that these Jews had been brought to Dachau to be executed and that they were gassed in the gas chamber disguised as a shower room and also in the four smaller gas chambers, which the staff at the Dachau Memorial Site now claims are delousing chambers.
By November 1945, it was known that the 29,138 Jews brought to Dachau from other camps between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944 had been transferred to the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau to work in munitions factories and had not been gassed in the five gas chambers at Dachau, as stated in The Official Report that was written within days after the camp was liberated.
The Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp, signed by Col. David Chavez, Jr., JAGD, 7 May 1945 is quoted below:
“The new building had a gas chamber for executions… the gas chamber was labeled “shower room” over the entrance and was a large room with airtight doors and double glassed lights, sealed and gas proof. The ceiling was studded with dummy shower heads. A small observation peephole, double glassed and hermetically sealed was used to observe the conditions of the victims. There were grates in the floor. Hydrogen cyanide was mixed in the room below, and rose into the gas chamber and out the top vents.”
Today, the “grates in the floor” are closed up and no one is allowed to enter the basement of the Barracke X building to determine if the Zyklon-B gas could have been put into the gas chamber through the grates. The “top vents” were two light fixture boxes, from which the light fixtures had been removed.
Although guides at the Dachau Memorial site tells visitors that the gas chamber was used, they don’t go into details about how the gas was put into the room.