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April 29, 2012

April 29, 1945 — the day that Dachau was liberated by American soldiers

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 9:26 am

Prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp after they were liberated

Prisoners at Dachau celebrating the liberation of the camp

You can read all about the liberation of Dachau on my website here.

The online Ventura County Star newspaper has an article about a soldier who was with the American soldiers who liberated the camp. This quote is from the newspaper:

On Sunday, Congregation Am Hayam in Ventura held its first Jewish Heritage Celebration to commemorate the 64th anniversary of Israeli independence and the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau. Sandy Lebman, an Am Hayam member, was the featured speaker.

In 1945, he had just turned 20 and was serving as an Army radio gunner in the 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division. He was part of a seven-man reconnaissance team that came upon a walled-in area he guessed might be a POW camp. Shots rang out, and Lebman jumped back into an armored car and told the driver to rush the gate.

“I began firing from the turret with my machine gun and wiped out all the guards,” he said. “I will never forget what I saw when we broke into that crematorium where these walking skeletons were shoveling dead bodies from a stack and throwing them into the furnaces.”

Lebman looked down and saw an arm moving on a body buried in the pile. “My first thought was: Could any of these bodies or inmates be my relatives?”

When Lebman was 15 and growing up in Ohio, his father was told to stop sending money to his parents and siblings in Poland because, “They were all gone.” The boy vowed that day that as soon as he graduated from high school he would join the Army “and wipe them (the Nazis) all out.”

In Yiddish, Lebman told the Dachau crematorium workers, “Ich bin yuden!” (“I am a Jew!”) He said he will never forget the look in their eyes when they realized he was a U.S. soldier there to liberate them.

You can read about the role of the 42nd Division in the liberation of Dachau on my website here.