Scrapbookpages Blog

May 20, 2010

The first SS soldiers who tried to surrender the Dachau camp were shot by Lt. William Walsh

American soldiers view the bodies of Waffen-SS soldiers killed at Dachau

Up until yesterday, when a reader of this blog identified the dead bodies in the photo above as Waffen-SS soldiers who had been killed at Dachau by American liberators in the 45th Infantry Division, I had always believed the story that these were prisoners who had been shot by the SS guards, as they were trying to get out of the train. The death train had departed from the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 7th and had not arrived at Dachau until April 27th because American planes had bombed the tracks; prisoners riding in open railroad cars had been killed when American planes strafed the train.

The "death train" found by the American liberators at Dachau

The Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp had left on April 26th and the regular SS guards had escaped the night before the Americans arrived.  Waffen-SS soldiers had been brought from the battlefield, on the orders of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, to surrender the camp and to keep order until the Americans could take over.

In the photo at the top of this page, note the shoes that the dead men are wearing.  I had never noticed this until a reader pointed out that these are German military shoes.  In every photo of the death train, the caption always says that these men were prisoners who were trying to get out of the train.

American liberators at Dachau view the bodies on the "death train"

Dachau photo from the G.J. Dettore Collection.

The sight of the dead bodies on the train enraged the soldiers of I Company in the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Division and, before the Americans entered the Dachau camp, they decided that they would take no prisoners. The first four Waffen-SS soldiers who came forward carrying a white flag of surrender were ordered into an empty box car by Lt. William Walsh and shot.  The photo above shows their bodies.  Notice the Jewish Star of David on the side of the boxcar.

After shooting the four Waffen-SS men who had tried to surrender the camp,  Lt. Walsh “segregated from surrendered prisoners of war those who were identified as SS Troops,” according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General of the Seventh Army, dated June 8, 1945.

The following is a quote from the I.G. report:

“6. Such segregated prisoners of war were marched into a separate enclosure, lined up against the wall and shot down by American troops, who were acting under the orders of Lt. Walsh. A light machine gun, carbines, and either a pistol or a sub-machine gun were used. Seventeen of such prisoners of war were killed, and others were wounded.”

Note that the I.G. report refers to “prisoners of war.”  The American military knew that this was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1929, but no Americans were ever put on trial for this admitted war crime.

The 45th Division soldiers had entered the SS garrison, next door to the concentration camp,  through the open railroad gate at the southwest corner of the Dachau complex at 11 a.m.  Soldiers in the 42nd Infantry Division arrived around 3 p.m. and met SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker, who was waiting to surrender the concentration camp, along with a Red Cross representative carrying a white flag. By this time, the 45th Division soldiers had killed up to 560 German soldiers, according to some accounts.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower set the number of German soldiers at Dachau who were “liquidated” at 300.

The Dachau massacre was kept secret for over 40 years by the American military.  Instead of telling the true story of what happened, the liberators lied about the photos of the death train, claiming that the dead SS soldiers on the train were prisoners, and that the SS had machine-gunned the prisoners to death when actually the prisoners had been killed by Americans who strafed the train.  Martin Rosenfeld, a Jewish survivor of the “death train,” testified at the trial of the SS man in charge of the train that the prisoners had been killed by American bullets, as American planes strafed the train.

Plaque at the Dachau gatehouse in honor of the 42nd Division liberators

The photo above shows a plaque which hangs on the outside wall of the Dachau gatehouse. There is also a plaque in honor of the 20th Armored Division which helped to liberate the camp, but no plaque for the 45th Division soldiers.  The 45th Division declined to be honored, maybe because these soldiers felt bad about killing German POWs after they had surrendered.

The Waffen-SS soldiers who were killed by Lt. William Walsh had absolutely nothing to do with the Dachau concentration camp. In spite of this, there are still many German-haters out there who think that it was perfectly alright for Americans to kill German POWs after they tried to surrender the Dachau garrison.

21 Comments »

  1. The only error committed by the Americans here is that they eventually stopped executing Waffen-SS soldiers. A more fitting end would have been to round them up and put them in concentration camps and either work them to death or shove them into ovens.

    Comment by Dan — November 27, 2014 @ 9:00 am

    • I am sorry for your disappointment, but there were, in fact, SS men who were burned alive in the ovens. The following quote is from Wikipedia:

      Begin Quote
      When the camp resistance warned the Sonderkommando that they were due to be murdered on the morning of 7 October 1944, the Sonderkommando attacked the SS and Kapos with two machine guns, axes, knives and grenades. The SS men had 15 casualties[14] of whom about 12 were injured and 3 were killed;[15] one of the killed SS and a Reichsdeutsche Oberkapo [16] were pushed alive into a crematorium oven after being stabbed by a member of the Sonderkommando. Some of the Sonderkommando escaped from the camp for a period, as was planned, however they were recaptured later the same day.[12] Of those who didn’t die in the uprising itself, 200 were later forced to strip, lie face down, and then were shot in the back of the head. A total of 451 Sonderkommandos were killed on this day.[17][18][19]
      End Quote

      The SS men WERE put into concentration camps by the Americans. The Dachau camp was turned into “War Crimes Enclousre No. 1″ by the Allies. I wrote about War Crimes Enclosure No. ! on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/NaziPrison.html

      On this Thanksgiving day, you can give thanks that the Allies did murder and mistreat the SS men.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 27, 2014 @ 9:18 am

      • A fitting and well deserved end to those who deserved it. Please don’t mistake what I wrote to mean that what occurred may not have been a war crime. Maybe it was. Big deal. Im certainly not claiming the Americans had the moral high ground here. If you’re going to commit atrocities on the almost unfathomable scale as the Holocaust, how can you expect humane treatment in return?
        Again, there error here, in my opinion, is that not enough of the guards were handled in the manner described above. They were concentration camp guards, even if it was only for a few days.
        I did share the post and reponses to it with my family over Thanksgiving dinner and it led to some lively conversation and varying points of view on these events and the war itself. We were lucky enough to be joined by 2 veterans of the European Theater of Operations and one that served in the Pacific. Many differing opinions; all tolerated without putting dissenters into gas chmabers. The consensus at the table though was that we could give Thanks that none of us were born Jewish, Romany, homosexual, or any other “inferior” type of human being under this particularly disgusting and shameful period in German history.

        Comment by Dan — November 27, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

        • You wrote: “They were concentration camp guards, even if it was only for a few days.”

          The first men who were killed by the American liberators of Dachau were NOT concentration camp guards. I wrote about the “Dachau massacre” on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/SoldiersKilled.html

          This quote is from my website:
          Begin quote
          As the 45th Infantry Division advanced toward Dachau, with orders to liberate the infamous Concentration Camp, where it was common knowledge that Jews were being exterminated in gas chambers by the Nazis, the American soldiers had no prior information about the existence of the SS-Übungslager, which was the equivalent of an Army post, located right next to the Dachau prison compound. The gas chambers were just outside the barbed wire fence that separated the prison compound from the SS training camp. The men of the 45th Division were not expecting to find a garrison of soldiers, much less Waffen-SS soldiers. For the Americans, the SS had a reputation as the most evil of the evil German soldiers. Part of the bad reputation of the Waffen-SS stemmed from the fact that the guards in all the Nazi concentration camps were soldiers in the infamous SS-Totenkopfverbände, or the “Death’s Head” unit of the SS. The regular Germany Army was the Wehrmacht.

          Before reaching the SS camp, the soldiers of Lt. Col. Felix Spark’s 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment, I company, under the command of Lt. William P. Walsh, had seen a long line of abandoned cars of a freight train, filled with emaciated corpses, on Friedenstrasse (Peace Street) just outside the SS garrison. The train was loaded with prisoners from the Buchenwald camp, who had been evacuated to Dachau, but the train had been delayed for three weeks because of American bombing of the railroad tracks; some of the dead prisoners on the train had been killed by American bullets when the train was strafed by American planes, as Pfc. John Lee noted in his description of the liberation. The Waffen-SS soldiers, including a unit of Hungarian soldiers, who surrendered to the 45th Infantry Division in good faith, had nothing whatsoever to do with the Death Train.
          End quote

          The killing of the SS soldiers at Dachau was a war crime, and that is why it was kept secret for 46 years.

          You wrote: “If you’re going to commit atrocities on the almost unfathomable scale as the Holocaust, how can you expect humane treatment in return?”

          At the time that these American soldiers committed this war crime, the Holocaust was still unknown and the gas chamber at Dachau had not yet been seen by the American soldiers. The SS men had surrendered just before they were taken to the train and killed.

          Comment by furtherglory — November 28, 2014 @ 7:47 am

        • You wrote: “Many differing opinions; all tolerated without putting dissenters into gas chmabers.”

          Dissenters are not put into gas chambers. They are put into prison for 5 years, in 19 different countries, where only your opinion is tolerated.

          Comment by furtherglory — November 28, 2014 @ 7:54 am

        • I wrote about the Dachau massacre on another blog post. The following quote is from that blog post.

          Begin quote
          General Patton’s Army was accused of several incidents in which German prisoners of war were shot, which he admitted in his autobiography.

          Patton wrote the following entry in his diary on 4 January 1945:

          “The Eleventh Armored is very green and took unnecessary losses to no effect. There were also some unfortunate incidents in the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.”

          In another incident involving the shooting of German and Italian Prisoners of War, an American captain was acquitted on the grounds that he had been following the orders of General Patton, who had discouraged American troops from taking prisoners during the landing of the US Seventh Army in Sicily.

          A third execution of German soldiers who had surrendered on April 29th, known as the Webling Incident happened in the village of Webling on the outskirts of of the town of Dachau. American soldiers of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division executed soldiers of the German Home Guard after they had surrendered. The Home Guard consisted of young boys and old men who were forced into service in the last desperate days of the war to defend their cities and towns.

          After an investigation by the US Army resulted in the court martial of the soldiers involved in these killings, General George S. Patton tore up the papers and tossed them in the wastebasket.

          Col. Howard A. Buechner, the American medical officer who was there when Waffen-SS soldiers were executed during the liberation of Dachau, wrote in his book The Hour of the Avenger, regarding the court martial of soldiers in the 45th Thunderbird Division:

          “Public outrage would certainly have opposed the prosecution of American heroes for eliminating a group of sadists who so richly deserved to die.”
          End quote

          It is clear that the Allies had no hesitation in killing soldiers who had surrendered. You are not alone in approving of American war crimes.

          Comment by furtherglory — November 28, 2014 @ 8:44 am

          • You wrote: “It is clear that the Allies had no hesitation in killing soldiers who had surrendered. You are not alone in approving of American war crimes.”

            In this context, I suppose we are in agreement. It was a means to an end. As an obvious apologist for a regime filled with the worst that humanity has ever had to offer the world, you should understand that sentiment.

            Comment by Dan — November 28, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

            • If Germany had a “regime filled with the worst that humanity has ever had to offer the world,” why do so many Jews want to leave Israel and emigrate to Germany?

              I wish I had a nickel for every German citizen who has said to me: “Nazi Germany was a paradise.” They meant that Germany was a paradise without the Jews, and without the Gypsies. Now you can’t walk 3 feet down a street in Germany without being accosted by a Gypsy begging for money. The Jews want to come back, so that they can take advantage of the Germans again.

              As for the way that German POWs were treated by the Allies, read this article at http://www.rense.com/general46/germ.htm

              Also, read about how the German POWs were treated by the Soviet Union:
              http://www.truedemocracy.net/hj34/20.html

              I wrote about the plot, by the Jews, to poison the bread of Germans POWs in this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/anton-schmidt-two-minutes-of-silence-in-his-honor-at-eichmanns-trial/

              I have spoken to former German soldiers who told me how they were treated badly as POWs in the USA.

              Comment by furtherglory — November 28, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

            • Why do you call Nazi Germany “a regime filled with the worst that humanity has ever had to offer the world”? I assume that it is because the Jews were expelled.

              Long before that happened, the Jews had been expelled from many countries. This website gives a list of 109 places from which the Jews were expelled. http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/expelled.htm

              This website gives a much longer list of countries that have killed or expelled the Jews: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/HistoryJewishPersecution/

              Why did every country in the world hate the Jews, who have never done anything wrong?

              This list, of countries and cities that have expelled the Jews, is by no means complete. I blogged about the Jews being expelled from Rothenburg ob der Tauber on this post: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Rothenburg/Tour/JewishMemorial.html

              Why do the Jews keep coming back, after they are expelled, including the Jews in Israel who are coming back to Germany?

              Why has no other group of people been expelled so many times, and killed so many times?

              Comment by furtherglory — November 29, 2014 @ 8:48 am

              • I cannot, for the life of me understand why any Jew, or other minority for that matter, would want to emigrate to Germany after what occured there. Perhaps those individuals have not learned the lessons that recent history has to offer. I also know of many Irish families that suffered mightily at the hands of the English and subsequently emigrated to England.
                Perhaps it is the same psychological process at work. Maybe they are just stupid. I don’t know the answer.

                You wrote: “I assume that it is because the Jews were expelled.”

                Your use of the euphamism ‘expelled’ for the words ‘murdered’, ‘tortured’, and ‘starved’ only proves to me that deep down, you know what you are advocating is wrong. You cant even bring yourself to write the words you mean to communicate. Just be honest with yourself.
                Instead of wasting your time attempting to distract the attention of readers with accounts of the comparatively few war crimes committed by the Allies, why don’t you focus your energy on what you so desperately want to write about…your advocacy for the return of some regime that will once again murder (you can use the words ‘remove’,’cook’, ‘fry’, ‘bake’, ‘starve’, or ‘experiment on’ instead if you’re still uncomfortable with the word ‘murder’) anyone whom you feel is of inferior genetic stock.
                You’re responses above betray your real intentions and your underlying psychosis. You’re uncomfortable with people born of other cultures. You can’t handle it. However, it is YOU that has the problem, not the Jews, not the Romani, not the Turks, and not the homosexuals. It’s just not your world anymore. Or ‘your’ country for that matter. You are the outlier and you are powerless to stop the forces at work around you.

                That’s a pretty frightening position to be in, isn’t it now?

                Comment by Dan — November 29, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

                • Hi Dan, from England.

                  Presumably, the emigrants-turned-immigrants go back ‘home’ because they feel:
                  (a) that the land is their inherited birthright and they must re-occupy it to reassert that right;
                  (b) that the period of injustice and ill-treatment which caused the expulsion or emigration of them or their forefathers is over — there has been a change of heart, with the oppressors usurped. Optimism reigns, and it is thought safe to return and to ‘rebuild’.

                  The English aristocracy, as absentee-landlords of large Irish estates, treated Irish peasants abominably in the mid-1800s, unmoved by a widespread potato famine and consequent death and suffering. Scottish highlanders got similarly terrible treatment. But remember, millions of poor English peasants were hardly treated any better! A rich élite will always treat the poor as disposable wealth-producing machines, something that never changes..

                  I’m 63 and well remember the sixties — the Ku Klux Klan, black lynchings, Governor Wallace of Alabama, the race riots, the Anti-Miscegenation Laws banning mixed marriage, ‘Jim Crow’ laws leading to segregated cafés and buses and entertainments, removal of voting rights… the list goes on, and that was all in The Land of the Free! In the end there was ‘The Great Migration’ as waves of blacks moved north, but many have returned. They didn’t leave the country, they hung in there and waited. (It’s disheartening that recent US racial unrest suggests the old prejudices are still bubbling just under the surface.)

                  Comment by Tony — January 4, 2015 @ 9:01 am

    • Print out the document at http://www.whale.to/b/walsh11.html so that you can pass out copies of it at your Thanksgiving dinner. Then you and your family can give thanks that German soldiers were, in fact, tortured after World War II and enjoy yourselves discussing the ways in which the German POWs were mistreated.

      Here is another website page which lists the ways that Germans were treated after World War II: https://www.stormfront.org/forum/t1000496/

      Happy Thanksgiving.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 27, 2014 @ 9:42 am

    • Read about the British camp known as Bad Nenndorf at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223831/How-Britain-tortured-Nazi-PoWs-The-horrifying-interrogation-methods-belie-proud-boast-fought-clean-war.html

      If this doesn’t make you happy, nothing will.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 27, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

  2. […] previously blogged here about the “death train” found by the American liberators of Dachau.  Now a Holocaust […]

    Pingback by Holocaust survivor Stephen Nasser identifies himself in famous photo taken at Dachau « Scrapbookpages Blog — March 2, 2012 @ 8:56 am

  3. who cares? whether they were camp guards or not – we didn’t kill enough of them.

    Comment by george — October 13, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    • Yup, The germans were idiots, the original commandant excapes with all his SS friends, and Himmler sends
      a “surrender” group in to turn the camp over, All the evidence of brutal murder/torture/starvation should have
      alerted them that when the Americans saw all this they would not be happy.

      I am not a coward, but if I was Lt Wicker I would have got out of their the minute I stepped in their , after I saw all
      that. He should have known it was a suicide posting. I believe Ltt Wicker was killed by the Prisoners and all his
      men were also killed.

      Their is an old saying, If you are “not sure” ” Kill them all, and let them God sort it out” .

      Ted

      Comment by Ted — January 19, 2012 @ 10:50 am

      • The man to whom you are referring as “the original commandant” was Martin Gottfried Weiss. He became the “acting commandant” for two days after Commandant Wilhelm Eduard Weiter left on April 26, 1945 to escort a number of VIP prisoners to a sub-camp of Dachau that was in Austria.

        Weiter had replaced Weiss on November 1, 1943 when Weiss was transferred to another job. Weiss left with most of the SS men in the camp on April 27, 1945.

        Himmler did not “send a surrender group in to turn over the camp.” As the “acting Commandant,” Weiss turned the camp over to a prisoners organization known as the International Committee of Dachau.

        It was the Red Cross man, who was in the camp at the time, that persuaded Lt. Wicker to surrender the camp. Wicker had only recently arrived because he had been in charge of bringing prisoners from the sub-camps to the main camp just before the main camp was liberated.

        Lt. Wicker was aware that there was a typhus epidemic in progress in the camp, but he was probably not aware of the “brutal murder/torture/starvation” in the camp. Lt. Wicker had a group of men that he was in charge of: these were the men that were handling the evacuation of the sub-camps to the main camp. Not all of these men were killed.

        Lt. Wicker may have been killed by the prisoners, but it is more likely that he was killed by the American liberators. The prisoners mainly concentrated on killing the low-level guards who were left behind by Martin Gottfried Weiss when he and the high-ranking SS men escaped. Weiss had not been in the camp very long; he had only recently arrived with prisoners from the sub-camps that he was in charge of.

        Weiter allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself himself at Schloss Itter (a sub-camp of Dachau) on May 6, 1945, according to Johannes Tuchel who wrote about The Commandants of the Dachau Concentration Camp in his book: Dachau and the Nazi Terror II, 1933-1945. I think it is more likely that Weiter was shot by American liberators.

        Comment by furtherglory — January 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  4. The Waffen-SS soldiers who were sent to help with the surrender to the Dachau camp had nothing to do with the bombing of Italy, which was done by pilots in the Luftwaffe. Some of the Waffen-SS soldiers who were sent to the camp were Hungarian. Even if pilots from the Luftwaffe had been sent to Dachau, it was a war crime under the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929 to shoot a prisoner of war who had just surrendered.

    Comment by furtherglory — August 8, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

    • How many POW’s were killed by the Germans during the battle of the bulge. How many POW’s and civilians were murdered as retaliation by the Russians on the eastern front?
      When emotions are high, the Geneva convention is not always followed.
      Sad, but true.

      Comment by War is Hell — September 13, 2010 @ 5:01 am

  5. no wonder. they bombed almost every single town of italy

    Comment by federico — August 8, 2010 @ 3:24 pm


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