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February 22, 2010

The liberation of Dachau scene in Shutter Island

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:10 am

I’ve been reading hundreds of reviews of the movie Shutter Island, looking for one in which the reviewer understands the Dachau Massacre flashbacks, but so far, no luck.

For example, here is a quote from a review by Arron Mesh posted on the Willamette Week Online web site on Feb. 19 at 6:34 p.m.

As Leo gazed at the dead bodies piled like human waterfalls at Dachau, a woman seated behind me at the screening asked, “Is that the Holocaust?” Yes, ma’am.

No, ma’am, that’s not the Holocaust.  The Holocaust, with a capital H, was the state sponsored genocide of the Jews, which took place in what is now Poland, not at Dachau. And yes, I know about the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the others that the Nazis considered to be inferior, but they are not counted as part of the big H.

Political prisoners at Dachau were illegal combatants

Dachau was the equivalent of Guantanamo bay.  It was a prison camp for “enemies of the state.”  The majority of the prisoners at Dachau were “political prisoners” who were there because they had been captured as illegal combatants, who were fighting in violation of the Geneva convention of 1929.

Poland never surrendered in World War II, and the Polish soldiers continued to fight as illegal combatants, instead of fighting on the battlefield.  It was perfectly legal, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, to send them to a concentration camp instead of a POW camp.

Polish prisoners celebrate Dachau liberation

According to the official report by the US Army, there were 31,432 survivors in the main Dachau camp, including 2,539 Jews. Some of the Jews had been brought to Dachau from ghettos in Lithuania.  Others had been brought to the main Dachau camp from the sub-camps just a few weeks before the liberators arrived. Some of the Jews had arrived only the day before.

Some of the Jews at Dachau had originally been sent to Auschwitz, but had been brought back to Germany when the Auschwitz camp was abandoned.  When the Americans entered Germany in March 1945, the Germans started bringing the Jews from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp so that they could be turned over to the Allies.

Women who were brought from the sub-camps to Dachau

The dead bodies that the American soldiers saw were prisoners who had died in a typhus epidemic that started in December 1944 and accounted for half of the deaths in the 12-year history of Dachau.

The American soldiers couldn’t understand why the Dachau camp was not in pristine condition, at a time when Germany was 8 days away from surrendering, after fighting a war for 6 years.  Every major city in Germany had been bombed; refugees were clogging the highways, trying to escape from the Soviet soldiers who were raping and pillaging their way across Germany. Food was scarce because all the men who normally produced the food were in the Army, including, by this time, old men and young boys.

Dachau had been bombed by American planes three weeks before, and there was no electricity nor running water in the camp.  There was plenty of food though, because the transportation system had broken down and Dachau was the only camp that the Red Cross could reach.  Just the day before the Americans arrived, the Red Cross had brought in 5 truck loads of food.

The Germans were doing the best they could to feed the prisoners; they were cooking over wood burning stoves and hauling drinking water into the camp.

The Germans were trying to stop the typhus epidemic — without access to vaccine and DDT which America could have sent through the Red Cross. The toilets wouldn’t flush without running water and the prisoners had not been able to take a shower for three weeks.  The barracks were terribly overcrowded because around 15,000 prisoners had recently been brought in from the sub-camps.

If the American soldiers had arrived in 1938 at Dachau, they would have been astounded at how neat and clean the camp was.  They would have complained about the Nazis being too hard on the prisoners, making them take their shoes off before entering the barracks and insisting that the prisoners keep everything in perfect order in their lockers.  Dachau was like an Army boot camp, only worse.

The political prisoners at Dachau were there to be rehabilitated and to learn the most important Nazi virtues which were painted on the roof of the main building where all the prisoners could see them.

Cross put up by the Catholic prisoners at Dachau

The German words on the roof translate into English as follows: “There is one road to freedom. Its milestones are: Obedience, Diligence, Honesty, Orderliness, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Self-Sacrifice, and Love of the Fatherland.”

The American liberators should have looked at the uniforms of the German soldiers before taking revenge because of the conditions in the camp.  Some of the German soldiers who were killed were Wehrmacht soldiers or Waffen-SS soldiers who had no responsibility for the concentration camps.


  1. I know these, and are only a few among others, who murdered millions of innocent men, women, and children. All evil wicked people and all Jews. Never prosecuted, of course. Chklovski, Kheifiss, Zeistine, Razmirovitch, Kronberg, Khaikina, Leontovitch, Jacob Goldine, Galperstein, Kniggisen, Schillenkuss, Rivkine, Delafabre, Tsitkine, Roskirovitch, G. Sverdlov, Biesenski, J. Blumkin, I. Model, Routenberg, Pines, Sachs, Liebert, Jakov Agranov, Lev Zalin, Lev Meyer, Leonid Bull, Simeon Gendin, Karl Pauker, Simeon Schwartz, Yevsei Shirvindt, Grimmeril Heifetz, Sergei Spigelglas, Albert Stromin-Stroyev, Moisei Solomonovich, David Azbel, Mikhail Abramovich Trilisser-Moskvin, V.L. Gerson, M.M. Lutsky, Zinovy Katznelson, Naftaly Frenkel, Matvei Berman, Semyon Firin, Lazar Kogan. Jacob Rappoport, Sergei Zhuk, Yakov Agranov, Karl Danker, Yakov Pauler, Lev Inzhir, Mark I.Gay, Meer Trilissen, Abraham Slutsky, Moisey Gorb, Lev Elbert, Zakhar Ilyich Volovich, Yakov Yakovlev-Epstein, Michael Kolmanovich, G. Roschal, Vladimir Feygin Moise Framing, Mordichai Chorus, Josef Khodorovsky, Isaak Solz, Naum Zorkin, Moise Kalmanovich, Samuel Agurski, Lazar Aronstam, Israel Weizer, Aron Weinstein, Isaak Grindberg, Sholom Dvoylazki, Max Daitsh, Yesif Dreiser, Samuel Saks, Jona Jakir, Moise Kharitonov, Frid Markus, Solomon Kruglikov, Israel Razgon, Benjamin Sverdlov, Leo Kritzmansolo, Genrich Jagoda, Lazar Moises Kaganovich.
    I hope they all rotting in the hell and paying for their sins.

    Comment by mincuo — March 27, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  2. the nazis were all evil wicked people who murdered innocent men, women, and children. they should have all been executed in the most horrendous way by the allies when surrendering. i hope they are all rotting in hell and paying for their sins.

    Comment by the bear jew — February 2, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  3. Great photo at the top of the article captioned: “Political prisoners at Dachau were illegal combatants”

    Is it real-life or from a film? They are pretty tough-looking hombres.

    I want to point out in response to your saying, “yes, I know about the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the others that the Nazis considered to be inferior ..” that homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses were NOT considered to be INFERIOR. Homosexuals were considered anti-social and immoral, while JW’s, as I said before, would not pledge loyalty to the nation or serve in the armed forces.

    I point this out no so much for you, as I’m sure you know it, but for the readers.

    This is a great post with fabulous photographs. Thank you!

    Comment by sceptic — February 22, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    • The photo at the top of the page is a real-life photo. It shows the leading prisoners at Dachau, the ones who were in the Committee of Dachau which ran the camp.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 5, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  4. Numerous errors of fact in here.

    Mainly, the Germans did not march Jews in the middle of winter all the way to German and Austrian camps in order to “turn them over to the allies”. This is falsehood.

    The reason was so that the prisoners could not testify to the Russians about what went on in Auschwitz and other camps.

    The second was so that they could be murdered. Himmler’s order was that all prisoners would be killed.

    Comment by Paul — February 22, 2010 @ 7:09 am

    • The Germans marched the Jews at Auschwitz as far as Gleiwitz which was on the border of Germany, and then put them on trains to Dachau, Buchenwald and Mauthausen. It was in March 1945, that the Germans began consolidating the prisoners from the sub-camps into the main camps to make it easier to turn the prisoners over to the Allies.

      There were many prisoners who chose to stay behind at Auschwitz, when the other prisoners marched out, and they told the Soviet liberators all about what went on at Auschwitz.

      Towards the end of the war, trains were scarce in Europe. The Germans did not use valuable trains to bring prisoners from the Auschwitz death camp to camps in Germany, which were not death camps, in order to kill them. The prisoners were brought to Germany so that they could work in the factories in the sub-camps.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 22, 2010 @ 8:28 am

    • Paul,
      You are the one who is in error.

      1. FG said the Germans brought the prisoners from the sub-camps to the main camps to turn them over to the Allies.

      2. Being turned over to the U.S. and Britain rather than the Russians didn’t stop prisoners from testifying.

      3. Himmler’s so-called order is a myth, and it certainly didn’t turn out that way, did it? The SS left 7000 prisoners behind at Auschwitz only because they chose to stay; why didn’t they kill them if that was the order?

      Comment by sceptic — February 22, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    • The Jews were marched from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp so that they could be turned over to the Allies. The prisoners at Auschwitz were marched into Germany so they could work in the sub-camps where the Germans were manufacturing jet airplanes and munitions. The prisoners had a choice between marching out of the Auschwitz camp or staying behind. Those who stayed behind could testify to the Russians about what went on in Auschwitz. The so-called Himmler order was that the whole Dachau camp should be evacuated, not that all the prisoners should be killed. This order was fake, according to Arthur Haulot, a political prisoner from Belgium who was a member of the Committee of Dachau. Himmler was negotiating with the Allies to surrender to the Americans and the British, but not to the Russians. He would not have given an order to kill all the prisoners at Dachau in the middle of his negotiations.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 5, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    • The march out of Auschwitz was in January, so it was in the middle of winter. The women and children were marched out first with the SS men leading the way, tramping down the two feet of snow to make it easier for the prisoners to walk the 50 kilometers to Gleiwitz. There was a “sag wagon” for those who got tired from walking. Those who couldn’t make it were shot, including the SS men who couldn’t make it, according to a survivor that spoke at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. They were shot to save them from a fate worse than death if the Russians got ahold of them. Another survivor told about the “sag wagon” that picked up prisoners who got tired of walking. The purpose of the march was NOT to kill the prisoners at some camp in Germany, but to take them to Germany to work.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 5, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

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