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May 28, 2013

a detailed analysis of Jimmy Gentry’s claim that he was one of the liberators of Dachau on April 29, 1945

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:55 am

Jimmy Gentry of Franklin, TN was a soldier with the 42nd Rainbow Division. In an interview with G. Petrone and M. Skinner on 2/25/2000, he recalled what it was like on April 29, 1945, the day that Dachau was liberated. Was he really there that day, or did he visit the camp days, or even years, after it was liberated? There is considerable disagreement about the liberation of Dachau, as I previously wrote in this blog post:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/the-liberation-of-dachau-no-two-accounts-agree/

This is a detailed analysis of Jimmy Gentry’s story, as told in his own words.

The following quote is the words of Jimmy Gentry in his interview with Petrone and Skinner on 2/25/2000:

On that particular morning that we left for Dachau, not knowing that it was Dachau, we just, another day’s work. We left about dawn, which we always did, and on foot, and went South, Southeast towards Dachau. We arrived about 11 o’clock in the morning.

Jimmy Gentry was a soldier in the 42nd Division.  On the day that Dachau was liberated, a few 42nd Division soldiers arrived in jeeps at the gate into the Dachau complex at 3 p.m.  It was soldiers of the 45th Division that arrived at 11 a.m. on foot at the railroad gate, shown in the photo below.

A section of the tracks at the former railroad gate has been preserved

A section of the tracks at the former railroad gate has been preserved

Only a few 42nd Division soldiers were at Dachau on the day of liberation

Only a few 42nd Division soldiers were at Dachau on the day of liberation

The photo above shows a group of 42nd Division soldiers who accompanied Brig. Gen. Henning Linden to the Dachau camp on April 29, 1945, the day of the liberation.  From left to right, they are T/5 G.N. Oddi, T/5 J.G. Bauerlein, Pfc. C.E. Tinkham, Pfc. Stout, and Pfc. W.P. Donahue.

This quote from Gentry’s interview with Petrone and Skinner mentions the Death Train that was parked outside the Dachau complex:

Because the boxcars that entered the northwest corner of that huge camp were open and the train was partway in the camp, and partway out of the camp. Our and some others went around the end of the box car to enter on the right side, and some others entered on the left side, and we only had about 3 feet between the train and the gate to enter, and on my side when I went around there I saw for the first time literally hundreds of bodies that had been shot and they were dead, and they were spilled out of the boxcar as if you had as if you had taken it, and just turned it over and poured the people out onto the side of the tracks. Some of the bodies were still in the train, some were hanging out over the tops of the piles of people outside, and that’s what I saw for the first time and they were not soldiers. We were used to seeing soldiers, both American and German soldiers who had been killed, but we’d never seen anything like this, they were striped, dressed in striped clothes, their head was the largest part of their body, their eyes all sunken back, they were ashen white, almost a blue color also, their ribs would protrude their arms the size of broomsticks, legs the same, and we didn’t know; I didn’t know who they were.

The railroad gate was at the southwest corner of the Dachau complex, not the northwest corner.  Photos of the train show that there were only two or three bodies lying along the track, not hundreds.  Gentry was describing the “death train,” but the 42nd Division soldiers did not see the train immediately, since they arrived in jeeps at a location near the main gate of the Dachau complex, which was about a mile from the railroad gate.

The quote from Gentry’s interview with Petrone and Skinner continues:

So we climbed over the bodies, and went on into the camp, and inside when we first got inside [the SS garrison,] the buildings were quite large, they were warehouses for the German SS troops, the elite soldiers, and they had all their equipment in these buildings. Now when we went in there were small arms fire, that means rifle fire all to our right and to the front of us, and what had happened, we found out later, some other troops had entered through the main gate, we came in through the train gate, or back gate, and they came in through the front gate so that’s why what we were hearing up ahead of us [was the 45th Division soldiers killing SS men inside the garrison] and to our right, and as we secured the buildings and moved, oh, towards the middle of the camp we found a second wall [there was no second wall in 1945], and on this wall, it was not as, not as large as the outside wall, there was a moat in front of it, a watered moat, and then another barbed wire fence. So there was a barbed wire fence, a moat, and then another wall. And we realized then, after seeing the train and after seeing this that these people were not to come out of there.

The moat and barbed wire fence that 42nd Division soldiers saw

The moat and barbed wire fence that 42nd Division soldiers saw

There was no wall in front of this barbed wire fence when the 42nd Division soldiers arrived at Dachau on April 29, 1945.  The wall was built later to hide the crematorium and the SS garrison from the camp.  At the time that the camp was liberated, there was a line of poplar trees that hid the factory buildings from the camp, as shown in the old photo below.  The concentration camp enclosure is on the right, but not shown.  Note there is a the line of trees, but no wall.

German soldiers who have surrendered outside the Dachau camp

German soldiers surrendered outside the Dachau concentration camp enclosure

Dachau concentration camp with moat and poplar trees

Dachau concentration camp with moat and poplar trees, but no wall between the camp and the SS garrison

Wall in front of the moat was built after Dachau was liberated

Wall in front of the moat was built after Dachau was liberated

The photo above shows a bridge over the moat, which was built AFTER the camp was liberated, along with a wall that was built to hide the crematorium area from the Dachau concentration camp. On the day that Dachau was liberated, the concentration camp was surrounded by a solid wall on three sides with the Würm river forming a moat on the fourth side. Today there is a wall that separates the former prison enclosure from the crematorium area, but this wall was not there in 1945.

Lt. Col. Sparks, the highest ranking officer in the 45th Division at Dachau the day that the camp was liberated, told Flint Whitlock, author of The Rock of Anzio, From Sicily to Dachau: A History of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division, that he ordered his men to enter the railroad gate, while he and a few soldiers climbed over the ten-foot wall around the SS garrison. Sparks said that he deliberately avoided the main gate because, if the SS was planning to defend the camp, that’s where they would do it.

The Dachau camp was surrendered to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden outside one of the gates into the concentration camp

The Dachau camp was surrendered to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden near the main gate into the Dachau complex, which the 45th Division was avoiding

Jimmy Gentry wrote a book entitled An American Life in which he included drawings that he made of the Dachau camp, as it looked on liberation day. He claimed that he entered the Dachau complex through the railroad gate at the “northwest corner” of the camp around 11 a.m. that day.

The railroad gate was actually at the southwest corner of the Dachau complex. Most accounts of the liberation say that it was the 45th Division which arrived at Dachau at 11 a.m. and entered through the railroad gate, and that the 42nd Division arrived around 3 p.m. at the gate near the southwest corner of the complex where SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker was waiting to surrender the camp. After accepting the surrender of the concentration camp, the 42nd Division soldiers then entered the complex through the main gate.

This quote is from the Gentry’s interview with Petrone and Skinner:

And this sea of faces [of the prisoners in the camp] seemed to be, every one of them seemed to be dead, but they were still alive. They looked like they were dead. So we released them [from the SS garrison] and entered the [concentration] camp, a separate compound where the prisoners were kept.

There were no prisoners released from Dachau on the day of the liberation, April 29, 1945.  Apparently Gentry is claiming that prisoners were released from the the SS garrison next to the camp.  There were no prisoners in the SS garrison.

The quote from Gentry’s interview continues:

There was not a lot of screaming and yelling and jubilation, not at all. [The prisoners] were blank faced, they were stunned. They did come up to ya and hug ya and someone, I don’t know who said it, someone in my squad said “don’t let ’em kiss you on the mouth.” And that meant, thank goodness that meant that they had diseases, typhus fever for example, and they would fall down to their knees and hug ya around the legs, and kiss your legs and kiss your boots. And of course we didn’t know enough German to know what they were saying and some of them were not German, foreign languages and we didn’t know, we just knew that they were happy to be released, but they were a pitiful sight. We worked our way through the camp and the German guards that had stayed there, none of them left. They were all killed while they were there in the camp, either by the soldiers, American soldiers, or by the prisoners themselves in some cases. So none of them ever left that camp once we entered.

In the quote above, Gentry is describing the “Dachau massacre” when SS soldiers were killed in the SS garrison, not in the Dachau concentration camp.  Not all of the SS soldiers in the garrison were killed.  There were SS men who were survivors of the “Dachau massacre.”  The “German guards” in the concentration camp had left the camp the night before, and Hungarian SS soldiers had been brought in to keep order while the camp was surrendered to the Americans.  Many of the SS soldiers were killed by the prisoners and the American liberators, but some of them did survive.

Dachau farmers were forced to bury the bodies at Dachau

Dachau farmers were forced to haul the bodies out of the Dachau camp for burial

Civilians from the town of Dachau were forced to bury the bodies at Leitenberg

Civilians from the town of Dachau were forced to bury the bodies of Dachau prisoners at Leitenberg

Gentry stated in his 2/25/2000 interview that his outfit stayed in the Dachau camp and buried the bodies.

The following quote is from the interview with Petrone and Skinner:

We stayed there in that camp, about three days, trying to help secure the camp and to get rid of literally thousands of dead bodies. Load them onto trucks, get them out of there, this awful smell. And we were able to do that and after about three days we left the camp and went out and had all the hair on our bodies shaved off because of the typhus fever.

Numerous other sources claim that no bodies were buried until May 7th. On May 13th, 1945, Dachau farmers were forced to haul the bodies out of the Dachau camp and take them to Leitenberg to be buried in mass graves. The 42nd Division soldiers had left immediately, bound for Munich.

Jimmy Gentry may have been among the first soldiers brought to Dachau in trucks after the liberation, on the orders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he may have pieced together his story from other accounts told by 45th Division soldiers.  If he was actually there on the day of liberation, how did he make so many mistakes in his account of the liberation?

10 Comments

  1. As we visited Dachau we saw on a railroad sidetrack paralleling the main highway, and close to the gates of the prison camp, a train of cars which had been used to bring additional civilian prisoners to this camp. These cars were an assortment of odd boxcars, some of which were locked, and some were coal-car type. In each of them the floor of the car was covered with dead, emaciated bodies. In some of these cars there were more than enough to cover the floors. In size, these cars were of the small European type, which, when used for the movement of troops, would never accommodate more than 40 men. Nevertheless, the Army officials in charge of this camp advised us that there were 50 of these cars in this 1 train and that at least 100 of these civilians had been jammed into each car . . .

    Comment by Jefferson Benson — June 8, 2013 @ 7:55 am

    • You quoted from the USHMM website. These words come just before the quote: “The delegations of journalists and congressmen who had been viewing the Buchenwald concentration camp were quickly diverted to Dachau to see the camp. In their report delivered to Congress on May 15, 1945, the senators and representatives stated that: As we visited Dachau….”

      This train had arrived at Dachau on April 27, 1945 and the bodies had been left on the train until the Congressmen and journalists could get there.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 8, 2013 @ 8:27 am

  2. About the corpses found on the “Death train”, why would the Nazis bother to evacuate prisoners from Buchenwald just to shot them once arrived at Dachau, after weeks of hard travel? Senseless. The pathetic justification told by the GIs for the Dachau massacre is ridiculous…

    Comment by hermie — May 29, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    • The official story is that the Nazis wanted to kill all the Jews at Buchenwald before the liberators arrived, but the Communists in the camp protected the Jews and would not let the Nazis get to them. The official story is that the Nazis marched these Jews out of Buchenwald and put them on a train for the purpose of killing them. They were marched out of Buchenwald in the first week of April; at that time, the Allies had not yet reached southern Germany where Dachau was located.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 29, 2013 @ 8:15 am

      • I know Buchenwald was ruled by the Communist prisoners, but they couldn’t have prevented armed German soldiers from executing inmates if they had been ordered to do so. The official story is ridiculous.

        And anyway what would have prevented the Germans from executing the jewish inmates when they were one mile away from Buchenwald? Why work so hard travelling for weeks in devastated Germany just to bring those people at Dachau if they are to executed?

        Comment by hermie — May 29, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

        • According to the official Holocaust story, the basic premise of the Holocaust is that Hitler wanted to genocide the Jews, meaning that he wanted to kill every last Jew. So every story of the Holocaust has to be tailored to fit the basic premise of genocide.

          Daniel Goldhagen wrote in his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners:

          “Finally, the fidelity of the Germans to their genocidal enterprise was so great as seeming to defy comprehension. Their world was disintegrating around them, yet they persisted in genocidal killing until the end.”

          So according to the official Holocaust story, the plan was to kill all the Jews at Buchenwald. That is why, according to the official story, the Jews were marched out of Buchenwald and taken to Dachau to be killed. Keep in mind that Dachau had a gas chamber, according to the official Holocaust story, but Buchenwald didn’t.

          The Nazis were remiss in killing the Jews, until the end “when their world was disintegrating around them” but they finally got their act together and sent a trainload of Jews to Dachau to be killed just weeks before the Allies arrived to liberate Dachau.

          Comment by furtherglory — May 30, 2013 @ 6:41 am

          • “Finally, the fidelity of the Germans to their genocidal enterprise was so great as seeming to defy comprehension. Their world was disintegrating around them, yet they persisted in genocidal killing until the end.”

            That’s why they surrendered Belsen on Himmler’s order when many evacuated jews were dying from typhus. They just had to wait and see them die but they didn’t do that. Weird genocide perpetrators…

            “So according to the official Holocaust story, the plan was to kill all the Jews at Buchenwald. That is why, according to the official story, the Jews were marched out of Buchenwald and taken to Dachau to be killed. Keep in mind that Dachau had a gas chamber, according to the official Holocaust story, but Buchenwald didn’t. ”

            Gas is not the onlly way to kill people. And a ‘gas chamber’ that was “never used as a gas chamber” couldn’t help much anyway.

            Comment by hermie — May 30, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

            • The Bergen-Belsen camp had been hit by a British bomb and the water pump had been hit. There was no water in the camp and water was being trucked in from the SS garrison that was next door to the camp. Besides that, 30,000 prisoners who had been evacuated from other camps, that were in the war zone, had just arrived and had eaten all the food in the camp. There was a danger of the typhus epidemic spreading to both the British Army and the German Army. That’s why Belsen was turned over to the British by Himmler.

              In spite of all this, there are Holocaust claims that the British captured the Belsen camp, and claims that Adolf Eichmann was the man who negotiated with the British to turn over the Belsen camp. Or that Commandant Josef Kramer was forced to turn over the camp to the British because his life was threatened. All kinds of stories to cover up the fact that Belsen was an Exchange camp until the last 5 months that it was in existence. There are also stories told by survivors of Belsen that they were put on trains to Theresienstadt to be killed in the gas chamber there, which Eichmann had just opened up.

              Comment by furtherglory — May 31, 2013 @ 7:25 am

              • FG wrote: “In spite of all this, there are Holocaust claims that the British captured the Belsen camp, and claims that Adolf Eichmann was the man who negotiated with the British to turn over the Belsen camp.”

                According to that time’s British press (before the British propagandists realized they could use Belsen for their own propaganda needs), Belsen was surrendered by “two German colonels carrying white flags who drove into the British lines” and asked for help because of the terrible epidemics raging there (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/76016091?searchTerm=belsenhttp://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/59332617?searchTerm=belsen). Those German colonels even proposed not to blow the bridge across the Saler river which the British troops were approaching at that time if the British army accepted to help them at Belsen. Not really a policy of mad genocide perpetrators who want to kill as many jews as possible before the end of WW2. It’s hard to imagine German colonels offering such a thing without Himmler’s (or another high-ranking official’s) consent.

                FG wrote: “There are also stories told by survivors of Belsen that they were put on trains to Theresienstadt to be killed in the gas chamber there”

                Why send jews to Theresienstadt to be killed in a gas chamber? Kramer (the Belsen camp commandant) ‘confessed’ there were jet gas chambers at Belsen (http://winstonsmithministryoftruth.blogspot.be/2012/06/bergen-belsens-gas-chamber-gas-jets.html?zx=eb6ea5c7f9243ea1). 😉

                Comment by hermie — June 1, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

  3. Thank you for the story. Non-fiction is more scary than fiction. I met a man last year. He told me a similar story to this one.

    Comment by johncoyote — May 28, 2013 @ 2:43 am


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