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.
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.
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.
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.
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.