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May 10, 2011

Who was THE first American liberator to enter Dachau?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:54 am

I’m not asking who was ONE of the first American soldiers to enter Dachau on April 29, 1945; I’m asking who was THE first American to see the Dachau camp.  A few years ago, I wrote a lengthy article about this subject on my web site which you can read here.  Near the end of the article, I wrote this:

On a visit to the Dachau Memorial Site, an American Army veteran named Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen told another visitor that he was the first soldier to go inside the Dachau camp on the day that it was liberated. His story is told on this blog.

This morning, I read a news article about Thorne-Thomsen here. Here is a  quote from the article :

Thorne-Thomsen, an 88-year-old Shreveport resident, was the first American to enter the famed Dachau concentration camp in Germany during World War II. […] He was speaking about his first vision of the concentration camp, describing a trench that was 30 feet deep and as wide as a baseball field, that held numerous dead bodies. The camp also featured a crematorium and a large gas chamber.

Unfortunately, Thorne-Thomsen didn’t have a camera with him, and as far as I know, there is no photo of this huge trench filled with dead bodies.  You would think that someone who arrived later would have photographed the trench.  Where was the Army Signal Corp photographer that day?  How come no one else ever mentioned this huge trench?   

Here is another quote from the article about Thorne-Thomsen:

What he didn’t know at the time was some of Hitler’s top soldiers had a training facility near Dachau, and the liberation of the concentration camp turned into one of the deadliest fights of the war, he said.

The training facility was in the SS garrison that was right next to the camp.  Soldiers in the 45th Infantry Division entered this area first and shot German soldiers who had surrendered.  Is this what Thorne-Thomsen is calling “one of the deadliest fights of the war”?

Another quote from the news article:

As an advance scout for the U.S. Army, Thorne-Thomsen’s job was to find places to position the Army’s tanks and big guns, and he essentially stumbled upon the Dachau camp. He said he sent word through radio — there were no cell phones back then, he joked with the Bolton students — about what he saw and called for troops to come.

Was the 45th Infantry Division ordered to liberate the camp after receiving the radio message from Thorne-Thomsen?  Did Thorne-Thomsen tell them to bring “the big guns”?  Did he mention the 30-foot deep trench in his radio message?  Is this why the 45th Division decided to take no prisoners?


  1. I made the request on Mr Thorne-Thomsen’s blog to show us were he saw the 30 ft deep trench with bodies in them while he was the first GI to enter the Dachau Concentration Camp.
    My message was deleted and I thought the United States maintained the freedom of expression and enquiry even to the extent of being critical

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 23, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  2. furtherglory
    Thank you for your prompt reply, although I had hoped that Thorne-Thomsen would react, which is perhaps is too much to hope for. The inmates I talked to are mainly dead and I am no longer in touch with any of them. I still have their numbers that were four Reichsjuden and worked on and off at the Bielmeier Bakery it may have been them that mentioned about seeing Schwarze in that part of the Camp, apart from about 34 others who were either Communists or left leaning individuals, that had no particular pleasant stories to tell about their Liberators. Some had fallen victims to the Typhoid Epidemic but I could not find any of their names at the Waldfriedhof
    Still, there will always be a dispute over the claim that the 761st Black Tank Battalion crashed through the east gate of the Camp which opened towards the Kräutergarten!
    Kind Regards

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 16, 2011 @ 1:19 am

  3. furtherglory
    I have used the expression Afro-American as it is used now, and have previously stated that inmates at Dachau KZ, I have spoken to have claimed that the first Americans they saw “Waren die Schwarzen” (Thy were the Blacks). In German this, or “Neger” is NOT a derogatory description. COLORED soldiers as they were classified by the US Army at that time in 1945 is difficult in German to translate, which means “fabrig”and would apply more to a painting rather than to a human being. Although we liked and preferred colored soldiers to the whites, we often had difficulties in conversations when the word “Neger” (Negro) was mentioned, which they may have felt was too close to naming them as “Niggers” and we avoided ever mentioning such expression like that in conversations with them.
    In the hope that I have cleared the air with the above explanation which still does not answer my original question to Mr. Thorne-Thomsen and his claim that he was the first American GI that has entered the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp.
    If he has problems enlarging the camp plan he can go to my blog which gives precise references and indicate what and where he saw the 30 feet deep trench with bodies in them.
    Kind Regards

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 15, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

    • I am familiar with the word Colored which was used in America in the 1940s to refer to African-Americans. You are correct that the word Colored, as used in America in the old days, does not translate into German. Colored was considered the polite term and the word “Nigger” was an insult. The word Negro was used mostly in books.

      I lived in Germany back in 1957 and 1958 and at that time, the word Neger was used by the Germans. The American soldiers avoided that word. “die Schwarzen” was the term used by the Jews back then and it is still used by Jews in America. The inmates that you talked to must have been Jewish. I am absolutely positive that there were no black soldiers at Dachau on April 29, 1945. I have communicated with one of the liberators in e-mail and he confirmed that there were no black soldiers there that day.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 15, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

  4. PS>Regarding Thorne-Thomsen
    Above is my website of the Camp Dachau Plan as it was at the end of April 1945 and I give Mr, Thorne-Thomsen the opportunity to indicate on it where he claims he entered as the first American, indicting the trench, which he says was 30 feet deep and as wide as a baseball field, that held numerous bodies, so we all know! The only place I know of that is 30 feet deep was the swimming pool and that is constantly full of water. Inmates I have spoken to, all claimed that the first Americans to enter their part of the Camp were Afro-Americans, but were simply ignored by reporters!
    If his memory fails him or he wont respond I say he is just an old “fiibber” and should shut up.

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 14, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    • The terms Afro-American and African-American were not used until the late 1960s or 1970s. If the inmates at Dachau said anything about the race or ethnicity of the liberators, they would have described them as “black” or “dark-skinned.” The American military was segregated during the time that World War II was fought. All three divisions that participated in the liberation of Dachau were white divisions. However, the 45th Division had some soldiers who were Native Americans or Indians, as they were called at that time. The inmates at Dachau would have noticed that some of the 45th Division soldiers had dark skin; they might have assumed that these soldiers were African-Americans. The only Europeans with African blood back then were mixed race, the children of white women and African fathers. So the prisoners at Dachau had probably never seen an African man before — except for a picture in a geography book.

      I think that the survivors of Dachau and other camps mentioned that some of the liberators were black because they wanted to make the point that the Nazis were racists but the American liberators were not racists. This was a wrong assumption. Americans were most certainly racist back then. Many states in America were segregated in the 1940s, including Missouri where I lived. Even as a child of 12, if I had heard a Dachau survivor say that the camp was liberated by black soldiers, I would have known instantly that this could not possibly be true.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 15, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  5. Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — May 13, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  6. who+dares+wings; Thank you for bringing this – at least for me – new site, to my attention. I will recommend it to everybody interested in REAL history!
    I will read it carefully and also study the first edition 2h long film ‘The Last Days of the Big Lie’.
    My first impression is that it is an excellent site viewing the REAL WW2 history,

    Comment by Königsberg — May 10, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

  7. Eric Hunt expressed a good idea on Carolyn Yeager’s Heretic’s Hour radio show at VOR last night:
    He suggested people secure a room at their local library and show revisionist videos. He’s made one about Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning Holocaust documentary entitled The Last days of The Big Lie. In it he deconstructs the eyewitness testimony of each survivor in the film one right after another.
    I have a little branch library down the street with a nice librarian named Diane. I think anyone can reserve a room for a meeting there. I’m going to ask Diane if I can reserve one to show Monuments of Soap by Velvel Gutman, a lachrymose tour of Romanian Jewish graveyards where bars of German soap are buried. Violins play away while he explains to viewers that the bars of soap need headstones because the soap underneath them was made from Jews. That will be the first feature. The second feature will be Eric’s video about Steven Spielberg’s interviews with Irene Zizblatt and Tom Lantos etc. At the Q and A afterwards I will ask the audience if they think all of these lovable old prevaricators actually believe their own BS.

    Comment by who+dares+wings — May 10, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

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