Scrapbookpages Blog

June 20, 2010

The 72nd Gun Battalion liberated Dachau on August 29, 1944. Who knew?

Irving Ross, a Jewish soldier who was with “the 109th Anti-Aircraft Battalion in North Africa and then with the 72nd Gun Battalion, attached to the 45th Division in the 3rd US Army,” told newspaper reporter Don Moore that his unit liberated Dachau on August 29, 1944.  Don Moore’s article about Irving Ross on this blog has since been deleted.

I continued searching for information on the subject of the 72nd Gun Battalion after a reader commented that the 72nd was actually named the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion.  I found a pdf file about Myron Greene who was with the 72nd. Greene was a dentist and he made 8mm films during World War II.

Here is a quote from Myron Greene on the pdf file which you can read here.

“On April 29, at 10 a.m., the 3rd Battalion of the
157th Regiment of the 45th Division found a
concentration camp. It was Dachau. What that
battalion encountered that day was so monstrous, it
took them only 10 minutes to take complete
control of the concentration camp. No words or
pictures can tell the story of Dachau. It was
certainly hell on Earth.
Because we had had our limited training in military
government, the 45th Division turned the
administration duties of the camp over to our
battalion at noon that day.”

It is true that the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division was the first to enter Dachau, but the Americans did not “take complete control of the concentration camp” until much later.  The 45th Division entered the SS garrison that was next door to the concentration camp on the morning of April 29, 1945 and began shooting the SS men, but they did not reach the concentration camp itself until the afternoon of that day.

The 45th Division could not have turned the administration of the Dachau concentration camp over to the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion at noon on April 29th because the Dachau camp was not surrendered to the Americans until mid afternoon on April 29, 1945.  The glaring errors in Dr. Myron Greene’s story makes me think that the administration of the Dachau camp was not turned over to the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion at all.

Apparently Don Moore did not do any research to confirm this story.  I googled 72nd Gun Battalion and found nothing except Don Moore’s blog.

The 45th Division was with the Seventh Army when Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945.  The 72nd Gun Battalion, if it actually existed, is not recognized by the US Army and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as being liberators of Dachau.

Don Moore included the photo below, allegedly taken by Irving Ross at Dachau, after the camp was liberated by the 72nd Gun Battalion.  This photo was obviously not taken at Dachau. Notice that the fence posts are not curved at the top, which was a characteristic of fences in the Nazi concentration camps.

The photo was actually taken at Nordhausen, a camp in Germany which had factories where concentration camp prisoners worked; these prisoners had been killed by an Allied bomb that hit the factory.

Photo claimed by Irving Ross to show Dachau was actually taken at Nordhausen

The following quote is from Don Moore’s blog, “War Tales.”

What came next would stay with Ross, a Jewish sergeant from Rockaway Beach, Long Island, for the rest of his life.

Irving Ross, of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a member of the 109th Anti-aircraft Battalion in the North African Invasion in ’42. From there he fought on through Italy, France and into Germany as a member of the 72nd Gun Battalion.

“We knew nothing about German concentration camps. It was April 29, 1944, a Sunday, when the 72nd Battalion, along with the 45th Infantry Division, went through the city of Dachau and found the camp on the outskirts of the city,” he said.

“The first thing we did was turn off the power in the camp. Then we killed every one of the guards in the guard towers with our rifle butts. They were mostly Russian prisoners in those towers who worked for the Germans.”

They rounded up what was left of the German soldiers who were running Dachau. Three days later they were all dead—without the benefit of a war crimes tribunal.

[…]

As one of Colonel Doud’s primary functionaries by this time, he helped take over the administration of the facility. When he wasn’t burning or burying bodies he was shuffling papers trying to get things sorted out at Dachau.

[…]

“Then I’d take them and show them the shower heads in a room where thousands of people were gassed. Most people think the poison gas came out of the fake shower heads, but it didn’t. It came out of jets in the side of the walls. And there were little windows where the Germans could watch people dying.”

The towers at Dachau were not manned by Russian prisoners who were working for the Germans.

The photo below is shown on Don Moore’s “War Tales” with this caption:

Retribution: The Russian concentration camp guard in the foreground was killed by American soldiers who liberated the camp. They cracked-open his skull with their rifle butts, Irving Ross said. Other guards suffered the same fate at the hands of the invading U.S. troops.

Photo of Waffen-SS soldier, wearing battle camouflage uniform, killed by a bullet to the head

The photo above actually shows a Waffen-SS soldier, who had been sent to Dachau to help with the surrender of the camp; he was shot by American soldiers, in the 45th Division or the 42nd Division, who were the liberators of Dachau.

The story told by Irving Ross takes the prize for the biggest lie ever told about the liberation of Dachau.

27 Comments

  1. My grandfather was in the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion. According to written information I have, the 72nd turned in their 90mm guns and were converted to MPs shortly before they were placed in charge of administering Dechau. My grandfather was on a team sent out to round a war criminals in the nearby towns, including a doctor who did medical experiments.

    Comment by MikeT — March 22, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  2. I know this is an old thread. I am tracing the events in my Father’s WWII service. It appears that he may have been assigned to the 72nd AAA. My Father is no longer alive to ask but at one time he told me that he was a guard at Dachau. He never said anything about liberating Dachau.

    Comment by Russell Jones — December 18, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    • Did your father say that he, himself, was a “guard at Dachau”? The “guards at Dachau” were German soldiers, who ran away on the night before the Dachau camp was surrendered to the American liberators. After the camp was surrendered to the Americans on April 29, 1945, there was complete chaos. The Americans allowed the prisoners to kill any Germans who were still guarding the camp, and also to kill the prisoners (Kapos) who were helping the Germans in the camp. As far as I know, the Americans did not post any guards to prevent the killing, which went on all night long, after the camp was surrendered, according to Nerin E. Gunn, a prisoner who wrote about the liberation of Dachau.

      A few weeks after Dachau was liberated, the former concentration camp became “War Crimes Enclosure No. 1” where German soldiers were imprisoned, while they awaited trial. Your father might have been a guard at Dachau when it was “War Crimes Enclosure No. 1” which you can read about on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/NaziPrison.html

      Comment by furtherglory — December 18, 2013 @ 11:52 am

      • Yes he said he was a guard at Dachau after it was liberated. May have been normal Guard Mount. I am trying to research his units and at the end he was assigned to B Battery, 124th AAA. At some point he served as MP.

        Comment by Russell Jones — May 4, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  3. I never questioned my uncles account of the liberation of Dachau. Unlike you I had the misfortune as a child (banished by the elders to my uncles basement to play) to come across a box containing my uncle’s photographs of Dachau. To this day the images haunt me. What sticks in my mind was a photo of bodies piled almost to the roof line of a camp house/office I know not what, in the box was also the official record and pictures from Dachau. What struck me was a picture of the same house/office with a small pile of bodies. Crying, confused scared my uncle found me. All I could ask is why the photos were different. Funny how kids minds work, in one hand I had my uncle’s picture in the other the official pamphlet and all I could ask through my tears was why they were different. My uncle with good nature chided me for snooping around but sat with me and explained. The pamphlet which clearly said Dachau on the cover with the picture of the same area as my uncle’s picture was taken after the area was cleaned up a bit to make it suitable for the public eye. So when for what ever reason you wish to question the accuracy of a story you should go to the sorce, he still had all those pictures. Trust me the curve of the fense top would not have been an issue.

    Comment by Jrljr — November 5, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    • Did your uncle take photos at Dachau himself? American soldiers were not allowed to carry cameras, but German soldiers were encouraged to carry cameras and photograph everything. Many American soldiers had “liberated” a camera from the dead body of a German soldier, so many soldiers had a camera.

      The book that you are talking about was entitled “Dachau.” The book was later published under the name “Dachau Liberated, the Official Report.” On page 39 of the Official Report, there is a photo of bodies in the morgue at Dachau.The bodies are piled up, almost to the ceiling.

      On another blog post, which you can read at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/bodies-piled-up-outside-baracke-x/ there are photos of the BarrackeX building, which is the building where the morgue was located; the gas chamber and the cremation ovens were also in this building.

      On this blog post, https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/alfred-de-grazia-commanding-officer-of-the-psychological-warfare-propaganda-team-attached-to-headquarters-of-the-us-7th-army/ there is a photo taken on May 1st at Dachau. In the photo, you can see piles of bodies that are different. Scroll way down to see a photo taken on May 1st, which shows the bodies gone and a pile of sand at the BarackeX building. This may be the day that the Americans modified this building to create a gas chamber in the shower room.

      There were many prisoners who died of typhus after Dachau was liberated, so the pile of bodies was larger a few days after the camp was liberated.

      General Eisenhower ordered that as many American soldiers as possible should be taken in trucks to see the camps after they were liberated. At Dachau, the soldiers could purchase a set of photos. This could be the photos that your uncle had.

      If an American soldier had “liberated” a camera, he would have had a hard time getting film because there was a shortage of film during the war. If a soldier managed to find film, there was still a problem of getting the film developed and printed. Most of the soldiers took the film home to America to get it developed and printed.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 5, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

  4. So are you saying that the 157th landed at Sicily (and lost men). Next, the regiment participated in the assault landings at Salerno (and Lost men) On 6 October 1943 E Company was hit hard by an enemy counterattack, and was reduced to 45 men. Then Anzio,E Company was destroyed, and G Company held its ground only after the Company Commander called artillery fire on his own positions.3rd Battalion lost 324 men. The regiment was in the forefront of the kickoff for Rome. on 27 May 1944 a German counterattack again decimated the reconstituted E Company, driving the men into a minefield, where the commander and all but one of the officer and NCO leaders became casualties. Ect. ect all taken from http://www.45thdivision.org/CampaignsBattles/157thCombat.htm Yet the 157th didn’t have a record of killing POWs even after having enemy tanks fire there big guns point blank into 157ths fox holes! So if, if SS were killed at Dachou by members of the 157th, one has to ask, what did these men see at Dachou that was more horrid then watching you Brothers shot with cannon fire at point blank range? If these men could do & see what they did above and more without attacking there POWs, but then lose it and kill SS pows while wrapping up a work camp. I have to ask WHAT PART OF HELL DID THEY SEE AT DACHOU don’t you?

    Comment by R. Goody — November 18, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  5. 72AAA Gun Bn did exist and there are photos to prove it. How to contact?

    Comment by DHM — December 31, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  6. I work at the 45th Division Museum in Oklahoma City and the photo of the dead SS soldier was taken at the Dachau Concentration camp by a member of the 45th named Edwin Gorak. The SS men were killed with a shot from .45 caliber pistols given to freed inmates by members of the 45th. Later beaten by said inmates. We have the original. photo in the Museum, these photos were copied in Munich for sale to member of the Division weeks after the war. A company of the 179th rgt of the 45th took over admin. of Dachau and was in charge of feeding and helping inmates of Dachau. Col. Harlos Hatter in charge of food distribution. Have never heard of 72nd AAA in any writing about the camp being there.

    Comment by Ted Hibbard — October 30, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

    • Thanks for this information. I have updated my web site. This is a great photo and it appears to have been taken by someone who had a good camera and was a good photographer. How did he happen to have a camera with him when the camp was liberated? Why did the men in the 45th Div. give pistols to the inmates, instead of shooting the Waffen-SS soldiers themselves? The original article by Don Moore has been taken down, as you can see by clicking the link on my blog post.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 31, 2010 @ 7:12 am

  7. 72 AAA Gun Battalion probably didn’t liberate Dachau but it did take over administration of the camp shortly afterwards
    http://www.chgs.umn.edu/histories/minnesotans/andHolocaust/dachau/administration.html

    Still didn’t go anywhere near Buchenwald/Nordhausen

    Comment by littlegreyrabbit — June 22, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    • Thanks for the information. I was googling “72nd Gun Battalion” so I didn’t find that web site.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 22, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

    • On the web site that you referenced, it says that Marcus J. Smith arrived at Dachau on April 29, 1945 as a Seventh Army observer. In his book “The Harrowing of Hell,” Smith wrote that he was an Army doctor with Displaced Persons Team 115 and he did not arrive until after the liberation.

      The web site also says that a quarantine was ordered on May 2nd, and four companies of guards arrived; the guards were almost immediately relieved by the 72nd AAA. I interpret this to mean that the 72nd AAA arrived after May 2, 1945.

      The web site does not say that the 72 AAA took over administration of the camp. It is my understanding that the Committee of Dachau, which was an organization of prisoners in the camp, took over the administration of the camp. The 72nd AAA soldiers might have been used as guards at Dachau after the camp was liberated.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 23, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  8. the top photo looks very similar to the photo no 3 in this article by revisionist Udo Walendy, which he says was published in May 1945 in Life Magazine and attributed to Nordhausen.

    Comment by littlegreyrabbit — June 21, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

    • forgot link
      http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndgcffor.html

      Comment by littlegreyrabbit — June 21, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

      • When I read your first post, I did a google search and found the link which you forgot to add. I found the photo which you can see here: http://www.vho.org/D/gzz/WalendyNordhaus.jpg

        Nordhausen was a sub-camp of Buchenwald; it was a labor camp where Jews worked in factories. On April 3, 1945, Nordhausen was bombed by the US Air Force and thousands of Jews were killed.

        So my guess was correct that these were prisoners who were killed by an Allied bomb that hit a factory in a labor camp.

        The link that you provided is from the web site that used to belong to Germar Rudolf. Udo Walendy and Germar Rudolf were both sent to prison in Germany for “Holocaust denial.” Holocaust liars don’t go to prison; they just write books and get rich.

        Comment by furtherglory — June 22, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    • Thanks a million for identifying the location of this photo.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 22, 2010 @ 7:36 am

  9. You’re absolutely right, the date was wrong for the liberation of Dachau. It should have been April 29, 1945, not Aug. 29, 1944. I wrote the original story about Irving Ross six or seven years ago and my best guess at this point is that it was my mistake not Ross’.

    However, I can assure you that Mr. Ross has a DD-214 which states he was in the 72nd Gun Battalion. He also has documentation that he and his unit were involved with the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

    As for the pictures used in my story, Mr. Ross told me that he personally took them. I have no reason not to believe him.

    What is your basis for saying,”This photo was obviously not taken at Dachau.” Were you there at the time of the liberation by the U.S. Army?

    Also quoting you, “The 72nd Gun Battalion, if it actually existed, is not recognized by the U.S. Army and the United Sates Holocaust Memorial Museum as being liberators of Dachau.”

    So what? It is not unusual that a battalion attached to an Army division gets little in the way of media coverage after the war. Because the Holocaust Museum knows nothing about the 72nd Gun Battalion doesn’t surprise me either.

    It seems to me you’re missing the big picture. Mr. Ross was in his 80s when he first told me his Dachau story. Now he’s in his 90s.

    There is no doubt in my mind that he was definitely there. Furthermore, he has the documentation in the form of a DD-214 to prove he was a member of the 72nd Gun Battalion and that this battalion was involved in the liberation of the camp.

    The date was wrong and it shouldn’t have been and I apologize for the mistake. But I can assure you Irving Ross was there and took the pictures you see with the story.

    Now if I might ask a couple of questions. Who are you and what makes you an expert on Dachau?

    Comment by Don Moore — June 20, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

    • After General Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, on April 12, 1945, he gave an order that every American soldier who was anywhere near a concentration camp should be put onto a truck and taken to see the camp. Eisenhower famously said that some day, people would say that the stories about the camps weren’t true, so he wanted plenty of witnesses. Because of Eisenhower’s order, hundreds of thousands of American G.I.s were taken to see Dachau, Buchenwald or Ohrdruf in May 1945. All of these soldiers, who were taken to Dachau, later claimed that they were there when Dachau was liberated. That’s why the U.S. Army and the USHMM got together and made a new rule that only soldiers, who were at a camp with 48 hours of the first soldiers to arrive, could claim to be “liberators” of that camp. This means that only soldiers who were with the 45th Division or the 42nd Division or the 20th Armored Division can claim to be liberators of Dachau. You wrote that the 72nd Gun Battalion was attached to the 45th Division at the time that Dachau was liberated, but no soldiers from the 72nd Gun Battalion were there within 48 hours of the first 45th Division soldiers who arrived at Dachau on the morning of April 29, 1945. If they were, the 72nd Gun Battalion would be included in the list of liberators that is on the web site of the USHMM.

      The Dachau concentration camp was surrounded on three sides by a high wall and on the fourth side there was a barbed wire fence. In front of the fence, the Würm river flowed in a concrete lined canal. There was a high guard tower mid-way along the fence, and a bridge over the Würm river canal. The photo on your page does not show the canal, nor the guard tower, nor the bridge. That’s why I say that the photo “was obviously not taken at Dachau.”

      The photo of the Waffen-SS soldier with a huge hole in his head has been published many times. It has never been identified as a “Russian guard” whose head was beaten in with a rifle butt. There were Russian POWs at Dachau but they were never allowed to be Kapos in any of the concentration camps. Kapos were prisoners who helped the regular SS staff members, but they were never used as guards.

      I have researched the liberation of Dachau and as far as I know, I was the first person to put detailed information about the liberation of Dachau on the world wide web. You can read it on my web site at this URL: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/LiberationDay.html

      I have a whole section about the Dachau liberation which you can read here: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/index.html

      The two photos of the crematory workers with the corpses were staged photos that were sold to the American soldiers who were brought in trucks to see Dachau. They were not taken by Irving Ross.

      Mr. Ross may have documentation that he was taken to see Dachau in May 1945, but he was definitely not there within 48 hours of the morning of April 29, 1945.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 21, 2010 @ 8:18 am

    • I just did a new search on “Col. Doud” and “72nd Gun Battalion” and found only the article written by Don Moore. I searched on “Col. Doud” and found only a book that repeats the information given by Irving Ross in Moore’s article.

      Surely if Col. Doud had taken over the Dachau camp after it was liberated and personally whipped the SS officers at Dachau, his story would be well known. There is a Col. Harold Doud mentioned on the Internet, but he was not involved with Dachau. In other words, the story told by Irving Ross is not corroborated by anyone whatsoever.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 21, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

      • Thank you for exposing this liar, Irving Ross. I just read all of Don Moore’s “War Tale” about Ross and I can’t believe Don Moore wouldn’t have known those photos weren’t taken by Ross.

        Holocaust literature is made up of just such false tales. And not just Jews, but other vets make up stories about their exploits in the war. And writers and “journalists” put them in print and circulate them in a shameful kind of collusion. Don Moore probably has British ancestry, so he hates Germans too.

        The title of Moore’s 2nd story on Ross is typical: “Irving Ross hates Germans after seeing Dachau up close.” Well, he didn’t see what he says he saw, so what he really wants is to create as much hatred for Germans as he can. That is the goal for these self-appointed avenging Jews who want to keep building up the Holo Legend to unimaginable proportions. Their bloodlust cannot be satisfied so they just keep telling bigger and bigger lies.

        We have to keep in mind that Irving Ross KNOWS he is not telling the truth; that is what really condemns him. Don Moore can convince himself that he just believed Ross. “Why should I have any reason not to believe him?” he says. He’s supposed to be a journalist, for God’s sake!

        Comment by Sceptic — June 21, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

        • American soldiers were forbidden to carry cameras, but near the end of the war, many soldiers “liberated” a German camera and took photos with the film that was already in the camera. They then sent the camera home and the film was developed after they returned from the war. They had no way of developing film during the war unless they had a good buddy who was in the Army Signal Corp which took photos during the war. Film was very scarce during World War II, even in America. The G.I.s had no way to buy film in Germany. So very few American soldiers took photos in the camps that they visited. Most of them purchased photos that were sold to them by enterprising prisoners in the camps.

          Comment by furtherglory — June 22, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  10. Kind of like Inglorious Basterds, isn’t it?

    Comment by Sceptic — June 20, 2010 @ 10:39 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: