Scrapbookpages Blog

March 19, 2010

The Dachau Uprising, 28 April 1945

Today I am writing about the “Dachau Uprising” in answer to a comment that was made by Taff, who says he is a Dachau tour guide.  Taff commented on my post about the “Dachau Massacre” when Waffen-SS soldiers, who had been sent from the battlefield to surrender the Dachau concentration camp, were killed by the American liberators after they had surrendered.

An excerpt from Taff’s comment is quoted below:

“The photographic evidence shows SS men wearing spotty cammo uniforms which were not worn by the camp guard staff so it is entirely likely that at least some of the executed were indeed Waffen-SS. You are going to cry over an error of this magnitude which took place only 200 metres away from the abomination that was KZ Dachau? Put things in perpspective. […] Those jolly, innocent lads of the Waffen-SS had not listened to demands for mercy during the Dachau Uprising on the 28th of April 1945.”

Equating the killing of unarmed Prisoners of War, in violation of the Geneva Convention, with the killing of civilians in a battle between soldiers and citizens of a town, really got me riled up.  So I am going to tell you about the Dachau Uprising, in which Taff implies that the civilians demanded mercy and were nevertheless killed by Waffen-SS soldiers.

The Dachau Uprising was an event that took place on April 28, 1945, the day before the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. A small group of Dachau citizens and a few escaped prisoners from the camp joined together in an uprising led by Georg Scherer, a former prisoner who had been released after 5 years, but was still working in a factory at the Dachau complex. The uprising was an attempt to take control of the town of Dachau.

In the last days of the war, after Hitler ordered that Germany was to be defended to the last man, the German Home Guard was called up. These were young boys of 14 and 15 and old men up to the age of 60.  During the Dachau Uprising, the Town Hall was occupied by George Scherer and his band of men, who had disarmed the Dachau police. The Home Guard was called out, but they either joined those fighting in the uprising or laid down their arms and returned home.

Town Hall in Dachau where Uprising took place

Three of the prisoners and four of the locals were killed in the ensuing battle with the Waffen-SS  that took place in front of the Dachau Town Hall, shown in the photo above. Georg Scherer survived and later became the mayor of Dachau.

Walter Neff was another Dachau prisoner who had been released, but was still working in the camp.  He also participated in the uprising, and survived.  He testified as a prosecution witness  in the trial of the Dachau staff members, which started in November 1945.

In the last days of World War II, when the citizens of Dachau realized that American troops would soon be invading their town, an uprising was planned as an effort to prevent the Waffen-SS soldiers from defending the town. The Dachau residents did not want their beautiful historic buildings to be destroyed in a useless defense of the town.

The escaped prisoners, who participated in the uprising, had been hidden for several days in the beer cellars under the town by Dachau residents.  Women in the town of Dachau walked with the escaped prisoners to the Town Hall, which was the site of the uprising.

The bodies of six of the seven men killed in the Uprising were laid out, as a warning, on the sidewalk in front of the building which now houses the Dachau Art Gallery, located across from the Town Hall.

Dachau resistance fighters who died 28 April 1945

On September 14, 1947, the Dachau branch of the Association of Victims of Nazi Persecution placed the commemorative plaque, shown in the photo above, on a building in the town of Dachau.  The names of the heroes on the plaque are Friedrich Dürr, Anton Hackl, Erich Hubmann, Anton Hechtl, Hans Pfügler, and Lorenz Scherer. Dürr, Hackl and Hubmann were escaped prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp. All six of the men whose names are on the plaque are buried together in the town cemetery, called the Waldfriedhof, along with Anton Decker who also died in the fighting that day.

The seven people who died in the Dachau Uprising were killed in battle. The Waffen-SS soldiers who were killed by the American liberators were lined up and shot with their hands in the air. There is no plaque in honor of the Waffen-SS soldiers who were killed by the Americans, and their names are unknown.

The families of the SS men were not notified of their deaths and their bodies disappeared.  The bodies were either burned or buried on the grounds of the SS garrison; the German people are forbidden to dig up the grounds to look for the bodies.

America had signed the Geneva Convention of 1929 which laid out the rules regarding the treatment of Prisoners of War.  The Geneva Convention of 1929 did not say that an exception could be made if the POWs were Nazis or if they were Germans.  When a country signs a Convention and agrees to abide by its rules, that means that the soldiers of that country must follow the rules regardless of where the POWs surrender, even if it is at a concentration camp.

Taff ended his comment with these words:

“In the main,I think “What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander”. Some of those executed may have been innocent of the crimes they were shot for.”

The Geneva Convention of 1929 did not allow any Goose and Gander comparisons.  It did not allow soldiers to “execute” POWs without a trial.  It did not allow soldiers to decide what are  “crimes” and what aren’t.

The same thing happened when Hungarian Wehrmacht soldiers were sent to Bergen-Belsen to assist in voluntarily turning the camp over to the British on April 15, 1945.  The British shot some of these Wehrmacht soldiers in cold blood.

In the last days of World War II, the prisoners in the Dachau sub-camps were brought to the main Dachau camp so that all the prisoners could be surrendered to the Americans in an orderly fashion.  There were no plans made to defend the Dachau concentration camp.  The prisoners who were considered to be the most dangerous, and the most likely to take revenge on the citizens of Dachau, were marched out of the camp towards the South Tyrol, so that they would not be released by the Americans.  The VIP prisoners at Dachau were taken to the South Tyrol for their own protection. Some of the Catholic priests in the camp were released in the town of Dachau before the Americans arrived.  A Red Cross representative arrived at Dachau on April 27, 1945,  and participated in the surrender of the camp.

Body of German soldier who surrendered Dachau camp

The photo above shows a dead body believed to be that of 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker who surrendered the Dachau concentration camp to the Americans and was then murdered.

There was absolutely no reason for the Waffen-SS soldiers, who surrendered the camp,  to be killed in cold blood by the American liberators.  And Yes, Taff, I am going to “cry over an error of this magnitude.”

3 Comments

  1. how about the mass bombing of italy ? am i repeiting myself ?

    Comment by federico — August 8, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    • Yes, you are repeating yourself; you made the same comment on another post. The Dachau uprising had nothing to do with the bombing of Italy. There was no excuse for shooting POWs who had surrendered at Dachau, not even if the Luftwaffe had bombed Italy.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 8, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

      • The italy comment makes me think that it would be justified for any Iraqi or Afghani to come to America and kill you for the drone missles that killed one of their children. You can not prosecute an individual soldier for a regimes crime. Besides that point, the issue of morality can not be applied in the fashion of “whats good for the goose”. If you were to suggest that what is good for the goose is good for the gander then suggest that the morality of the action is okay you are then placing yourself and the action made on the same level of the Nazi’s war crimes or you are excusing the Nazi’s as just. Morality is viewed by the action and the direct reaction of that action and not judged based on whom the action is applied to. Killing someone while they sleep with no trial or fair process is the same whether they were a killer or a child. The act itself is what is morally correct or not.

        The fact that many forget the Waffen SS who surrendered were not the original guards but replacements from the feild that came the night before is not truley the point. Neither is that the 1945 Waffen SS had many 17/18/19 year olds who had little to do with the regime and joined more out of survival instinct than being a zealot is not truley the point. The point is that no matter who was killed or did the killing , these peple were killed in cold blood against the code of Geneva convention and todays history books and movies and popular culture like to omit or rewrite history. I am not saying to condem the people who did the act or I am not saying that a level of understanding of why it happened is not possible. I am saying it is only right to accept the responibility that it did happen and what happened was wrong , no matter the cause or reasoning.

        Comment by Danny "Irish" — March 4, 2015 @ 12:23 am


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