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February 10, 2010

Shutter Island scene shows Dachau massacre

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 3:36 am

The movie Shutter Island, based on a 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane, opened in American theaters on February 19, 2010. The Dachau massacre scene was completely changed and some of the photos on this page, which I began writing on Feb. 10th, no longer show what is in the movie.

The movie plot centers around Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who is investigating the disappearance of a woman patient in the Ashecliffe mental hospital on Boston’s Shutter Island.

In Lehane’s novel, there is a one paragraph flashback scene which briefly describes the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. Lehane wrote that “500 Krauts” (German soldiers) were killed by the American liberators.

The photo below shows a scene which was cut from the movie; this scene depicts American soldiers entering Dachau on April 29, 1945. The gate vaguely resembles one of the real gates into the Army garrison next door to the Dachau concentration camp, which is shown in the second photo below. In real life, the American soldiers entered through a different gate.

American soldiers entering fictitious  gate at Dachau

One of the real gates at Dachau

When the American soldiers arrived, they were horrified by the sight of the “death train” that was parked on the railroad tracks outside the Dachau camp.

The train had left the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 7, 1945 and had not reached Dachau until April 28, 1945 because American bombs had destroyed the railroad tracks on the 220 mile route from Buchenwald to Dachau.

Some of the prisoners, riding in open gondola cars on the train, had been killed by American bullets as U.S. planes strafed the train.

Prisoners had been killed by American bullets

In 1954, at the time that the story in the movie is taking place, the shooting of unarmed German soldiers at Dachau was still a closely guarded secret, which would not become known for another 31 years. One of the first newspapers to publish the story of the Dachau massacre was the Boston Globe.

The main character in the movie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, lives in Boston; he was involved in the “Dachau massacre,” that is shown in the flashback in the movie.

Movie scene shows corpses piled up at the “death train”

The photo above shows a scene from the movie Shutter Island which depicts the corpses found on the 39 cars of the “death train” at Dachau. In the movie, there is only one railroad car. This fictitious scene resembles the real photos of the train, combined with real photos of the pile of corpses found outside the crematorium at Dachau.

Note what appears to be barbed wire in the photo, which indicates that the train in the movie was parked inside the Dachau concentration camp enclosure; the real-life “death train” was partly inside, and partly outside, the SS garrison, which was next door to the concentration camp.

The "death train" parked at the Dachau concentration camp

The “death train” parked at the Dachau concentration camp

Bodies piled up outside the crematorium at Dachau, April 1945

Bodies piled up outside the crematorium at Dachau, after the camp was liberated in April 1945

The regular guards at Dachau had all fled from the camp the night before the Americans arrived and there was no one to take care of the dead bodies. There was a typhus epidemic in the Dachau camp and 400 prisoners were dying each day from the disease.

The body of a prisoner beside the “death train”

There were no naked corpses piled up outside the “death train.”  There were only a few bodies on the ground beside the train, as shown in the photo above.

The horrible scene of the “death train” was what prompted American soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division to kill Hungarian Waffen-SS soldiers who had been sent directly from the battlefield, wearing their camouflage uniforms, to surrender the Dachau camp.

Dead Waffen-SS soldier who was sent to surrender Dachau

This scene, which shows German SS soldiers at Dachau, was cut from the movie

Waffen-SS soldier killed by the American liberators at Dachau

Movie extras who played German soldiers

The 45th Thunderbird Division soldiers, who executed the “500 Krauts,” had come upon the abandoned train of 39 railroad cars just before they entered the SS training camp through the railroad gate on the west side of the Dachau SS complex.

German soldiers being executed at Dachau

When the photo above was published, the caption read as follows:

“SC 208765. Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Div., U.S. Seventh Army, order SS men to come forward after one of their number tried to escape from the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp after it was liberated by U.S. forces. Men on the ground in background feign death by falling as the guards fired a volley at the fleeing SS men. 157th Reg. 4/29/45.”

This caption is a total lie.  The soldiers were not trying to escape; they remained standing with their hands in the air until Lt. Col. Felix Sparks ordered the execution to stop. Some of them were wounded Wehrmacht soldiers who had been dragged out of an Army hospital at the Dachau garrison.

Note real life Dachau survivor wearing a warm jacket

Prisoner in movie wearing an identical warm jacket; this actor’s scene was cut from the movie

German guards at Dachau were killed by the prisoners

The American liberators allowed the prisoners to kill the guards and mutilate the bodies. Note the German guard in the photo above with his pants pulled down.

SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrenders camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden

The photo above shows 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrendering the Dachau camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden of the 42nd Rainbow Division while Red Cross representative Victor Maurer holds a white flag of surrender.

Note that Wicker’s face is scarred; after he was wounded in battle on the Eastern front, Wicker was transferred to Dachau to work as a guard.  Wicker was killed, but no one knows whether he was killed by the liberated prisoners or executed by the American soldiers.  His family was never notified of his death.

2nd Lt. Wicker had been persuaded by Victor Maurer to stay behind when the other guards left the camp.  He had been away from the camp and had only recently arrived, leading a group of prisoners from one of the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp.


  1. […] previously blogged about the “Dachau Massacre” here and here and […]

    Pingback by the controversy over the “Dachau Massacre” lives on « Scrapbookpages Blog — February 4, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  2. Korea: The U.S. had 33,686 killed but, all the other countries involved a combined total of 2,448,095!

    Vietnam War killed 58,000 U.S. Soldiers. 1,100,000 Vietnamese Soldiers. 1,170,000 wounded U.S. Soldiers, Vietnamese Soldiers, Men Woman and Children.

    For what? Military Contracts and cheap labor. War is big buiness, big profit for the International Bankers, who are determined to destroy our country for “Thirty Pieces of Silver”.

    P.S. Germany didn’t want to go to war. I’ve spent 12 years studying German History. We have been lied too even about the real reasons for WWII and so many other issues.

    Vietnam era Vet.

    Comment by Don — March 25, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  3. Nazi hunters should hunt down the Americans that massacred these German SS troops and put them on trial no matter how old they are. Executing unarmed prisoners of war is a crime no matter how you label it or them. Both sides had criminals that murdered, but Hollywood will only publish one side…the winners side!

    Comment by Dale Sumislouski — October 22, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  4. Really disappointed by your pseudo-science and pseudo-debate here, the fact that people like you have the audacity or stupidity to attempt to dress up your nonsense with some semblance of reason is just as vacuous as the experiments of Mengele.

    Comment by Lars Porsena — April 18, 2010 @ 11:46 am

    • Nice to see you commenting here, Lars, especially since you’ve been dead for around 2,500 years.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 18, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  5. Sir,

    The statement that 500 Germans were
    massacred by American troops at Dachau on 29 April 1945 is a total fabrication.

    In his report entitled “Investigation of Alleged
    Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau,” LTC Joseph Whitaker concluded that 21 German POWs were executed without cause by members of the 45th Infantry Division.

    The killing of 21 German Prisoners of War was inexcusable.

    When GEN Patton received the report, he discarded it. The American soldiers implicated were never prosecuted.

    Comment by Dave Kerr — February 24, 2010 @ 3:26 am

    • It was the author of the book Shutter Island who said that “500 krauts” were killed at Dachau. He was probably basing this on a book written in 1986 by Col. Howard A. Buechner, who claimed to be an eye-witness to the killing of 520 Germans by the 45 Infantry Div. soldiers. Whitaker did his investigation on May 3, 1945; by that time, the bodies of some of the dead German POWs could have been burned in the ovens or buried on the grounds of the SS garrison. No one knows how many were really killed, but I think it was more than 21. Whitaker’s report was kept secret until 1991.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 24, 2010 @ 4:11 am

  6. This stuff you’re posting is really disturbing. I’m wondering if you have any readers left. Most people can’t handle the truth — that’s because we’ve been brought up on lies and think they’re the truth. Nice and neat and clean — with the bad guys and the good guys already identified for us.

    I like your focus on films, showing the way they never tell and picture things the way they really were, but change it so that it makes a better story line and a better visual image and/or impact. But even documentaries will mislabel what is shown.

    With films and photographs, it makes all the difference what words are put with them, doesn’t it? The deception is disturbing, but the ease with which human beings are deceived is even more disturbing.

    Comment by sceptic — February 10, 2010 @ 8:59 am

    • I am sure that most people will think that the “500 Krauts” got what they deserved at Dachau, just like the German soldiers who were beaten to death by the Bear Jew in Inglourious Basterds. Did the German soldiers have a pejorative term for the Americans, something that would be the equivalent of Krauts or Huns?

      Comment by furtherglory — February 10, 2010 @ 10:42 am

      • They did, in fact, they often called American soldiers “Amis” (pronounced “Ah-mee’s”) – it is simply short for the German word “Amerikaner” (American).

        I have German friends who use it today around me in a friendly and joking manner. It isn’t really derogatory, but then again “Kraut” no longer is so much either. Germany and the US have been friendly for so long now that the negative meanings seem to have passed.

        That being said, I wouldn’t jokingly refer to a random German as a “Kraut” without making sure you know him or her quite well. Germans are very sensitive about topics relating to WWII – and most of them have met an overwhelming number of obnoxiously ignorant Americans who immediately bring up the war or Holocaust upon first meeting a German. They are quite tired of hearing it.

        (Have spent extensive time in Germany and speak the language.)

        Comment by Garand — October 30, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

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