Yesterday, a comment was made on my blog about an American soldier, named Jimmy Gentry, who claims to have participated in the liberation of Dachau. I wrote about Jimmy Gentry on this previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/jimmy-gentry-liberator-of-dachau-concentration-camp/
You can read about the various claims regarding the liberation of Dachau on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/LiberationDay3.html
I am answering the comment about Jimmy Gentry on my blog post today.
Begin quote of comment:
“I have no idea who this furtherglory person is, other than a faceless coward. If you are picking apart a story of a Patriot who served this country honorably, Jimmy Gentry, who also was my history teacher, then you are basically nothing more than a worm. Who are you to accuse him of lying? Apparently that’s what worms do. I know for a fact Coach Gentry would never attempt to draw attention to himself regarding his experiences during the War. You should be ashamed. For anyone coming across this blog- warning….it’s garbage journalism.”
End of comment
I went to the website of Jimmy Gentry in order to refresh my memory regarding his claim that he was a liberator of Dachau.
I copied the following quote from his website:
“Off in the distance I saw boxcars lined up with hundreds of dead bodies inside. They looked starved and tortured,” remembers Jimmy Gentry. “I asked another soldier, ‘Who are these people?’ He said, ‘They are Jews.’“
American infantryman Jimmy Gentry had seen combat at the Battle of the Bulge, but it paled in comparison to what he saw that day. “No one told us what we would find. No one explained what our mission was. We saw a wall and that was the entrance to a prison camp like I have never seen.” The camp was Dachau.
End quote from comment
Both the 45th Thunderbird Division and the 42nd Rainbow Division were advancing on April 29, 1945 toward Munich with the 20th Armored Division between them. Dachau was directly in their path, about 10 miles north of Munich.
According to Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, the commander of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Thunderbird Division, he received orders at 10:15 a.m. to liberate the Dachau camp, and the soldiers of I Company were the first to arrive at the camp around 11 a.m. on April 29, 1945.
The 101st Tank Battalion was attached to the 45th Thunderbird Division. The 101st arrived in the town of Dachau at 9:30 a.m. on April 29th.
The photo above shows SS men surrendering to American soldiers who liberated Dachau. The concentration camp is a considerable distance from this spot.
A short railroad branch line, or rail siding, shown in the photo above, was built in 1915 from the train station in Dachau to a gunpowder and munitions factory. In July 1936 when the Nazis acquired all the property of the abandoned gun powder factory, construction began on an SS training camp and garrison, which was built next to the concentration camp that had opened in 1933.
On September 23, 1936 the industrial railroad branch line, that had formerly served the munitions factory, became the property of the Nazis. It was used primarily to bring supplies into the SS camp, but a few transport trains carrying prisoners also arrived on this railroad line, which went a short distance inside the SS camp through a railroad gate on the southwest side of the complex. The railroad tracks did not extend into the concentration camp.
A short piece of the track on this branch line has been preserved as a memorial to the prisoners who entered the Dachau complex by train. The train tracks entered the SS garrison, but not the concentration camp.
The rest of the branch railroad line was ripped out in 1985. The English translation of the sign in the photo reads “Railroad track to the former SS camp where between 1933 and 1945 tens of thousands of prisoners were transported into the concentration camp.”
When the former Dachau concentration camp was turned into a Memorial Site in 1965, the US Army was still occupying the former SS Army Garrison, so a new entrance for tourists was made through an opening in the fence on the east side of the camp, which is shown in my photo below. At that time, there was a high wall which separated the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gatehouse building from the US Army garrison. That wall was not there when American soldiers liberated Dachau.
Jimmy Gentry: We saw a wall and that was the entrance to a prison camp like I have never seen.” The camp was Dachau.
There was no wall between the concentration camp and the SS garrison when Jimmy Gentry was there in 1945. The wall was built when American soldiers occupied the Army garrison for 17 years after the end of World War II.