Scrapbookpages Blog

May 19, 2010

Photos of SS soldiers killed at Dachau

Someone brought it to my attention that one of the 42nd Rainbow Division soldiers who helped to liberate Dachau was Staff Sgt. John N. Petro, 232 Infantry, E Company. He brought home photos which can be seen here on a web site put up by Bill Petro in John Petro’s honor.

Dachau guards on the ground at the east wall of the camp, April 1945 Photo credit: John Petro

Tourist walking between the barbed wire fence and the wall on the east side of the Dachau camp, May 1997

Photo taken from the top of a guard tower at Dachau shows dead bodies, April 1945 Photo credit: John Petro

Reconstructed tower on east side of Dachau where John Petro took photo in April 1945

Two of the three towers on the east side of Dachau camp with moat in the foreground on the left side, May 1997

Dead Waffen-SS soldier at Dachau, April 1945 Photo credit: John Petro

The photo above, from Bill Petro’s web site, has the title “firingsquad.jpg,” indicating that this photo shows a soldier at the base of a wall where soldiers were shot by a firing squad.  The photo was probably taken in one of the two locations shown in the photos below.

Famous photo shows the "Dachau massacre."

Dachau guards killed inside a coal yard, April 1945

It is well known that German soldiers who had surrendered at Tower B on the west side of the Dachau camp were killed in cold blood, but there was no mention in the Inspector General’s Report about guards killed after they came down from the towers on the east side of the camp.

Bodies of German guards at the base of Tower B on west side of Dachau camp, April 1945

The American liberators gave weapons to the liberated prisoners and allowed them to kill the German and Hungarian Waffen-SS soldiers who had been sent to surrender the camp. The photo below shows a prisoner talking to an American soldier and Hungarian Waffen-SS soldiers.

Armed Polish resistance fighter threatens a Hungarian Waffen-SS soldier at Dachau, April 29, 1945

Also among the photos that John Petro brought home is photo shown below.  The American liberators remember the horror of the emaciated prisoners, but most of the photos taken at Dachau show prisoners in relatively good health.

Liberated prisoners at Dachau, April 1945 Photo credit: John Petro

The photo above appears to have been taken from a window on the top floor of the Dachau gate house, looking down on the prisoners massed at the gate. The prisoners swarmed the gate, trying to get out, but they had to be kept inside because there was a typhus epidemic at Dachau on April 29, 1945 when the camp was liberated.

Prisoners at the "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate on liberation day, April 29, 1945


  1. The photos from my tribute website to my father, Staff Sgt John Petro, at were photos he gave to me when he told me the story. However, he did not claim to have taken the photos himself. Indeed, years ago, someone emailed me an exact copy of one of these photos.

    It is speculation of course, but perhaps someone had taken photos and made copies available.

    Bill Petro

    Comment by Bill Petro — May 19, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    • Thanks for writing. I made a correction on my blog post, now that you told me that John Petro didn’t actually take the photos himself.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 19, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

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