Scrapbookpages Blog

May 19, 2017

91 year old Richard Dutro remembers the liberation of Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:16 am

91-year-old Richard Dutro is on the far right in the photo above

I have a section about the liberation of Dachau on my website at https://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/index.html

Richard Dutro was among the American soldiers who liberated Dachau.

You can read about the liberation of Dachau in this news article:

http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local_news/ohio-governor-s-th-annual-holocaust-commemoration/article_6846b618-3b36-11e7-b6f3-370fd3b9814f.amp.html

Dutro’s unit, the 42nd Infantry under the direction of Gen. George Patton, had left France to head east toward Munich. However, along the way, his unit happened upon what they soon learned was Dachau.

“We came upon something that smelled like a slaughterhouse,” Dutro said. “I grew up in Zanesville, where we had slaughterhouses. But this was a slaughterhouse of human beings.”

The scene that Dutro described was gruesome and gut-wrenching. He recalled 114 train cars at the nearby train station full of dead prisoners the Germans did not have time to burn in the crematorium before the Allies invaded. Barrels full of personal items such as eyeglasses and teeth, things that do not incinerate in a gas chamber, were abundant and strewn about.

As it happened, one of Dutro’s fellow soldiers owned a Brownie camera. The soldier took photos of various scenes, and Dutro ended up with eight of those black-and-white photos. Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich assisted Dutro by holding each photo up so attendees at the commemoration could see them for themselves as the liberator spoke of them. Dutro said the photographs would be donated to a Holocaust museum upon his death.

Here is the full story of the liberation of Dachau:

The infamous Nazi concentration camp at Dachau was liberated on Sunday, April 29, 1945, just one week before the end of World War II in Europe. Two divisions of the US Seventh Army, the 42nd Rainbow Division and the 45th Thunderbird Division, participated in the liberation, while the 20th Armored Division provided support.

On the day of the liberation, Dachau consisted of a main camp just outside the town of Dachau and 123 sub-camps and factories in the vicinity of the town. The next day, on 30 April 1945, at around 9 o’clock in the morning, one of the major Dachau sub-camps at Allach was liberated by the 42nd Division.

On the day before the liberation of the main camp, the acting Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, had turned everything over to a group of prisoners called the International Committee of Dachau and had then fled along with most of the regular guards that night. According to Arthur Haulot, a member of the International Committee, German and Hungarian Waffen-SS soldiers were then brought to the camp in order to surrender the prisoners to the U.S. Army.

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.

The 101st Tank Battalion was attached to the 45th Thunderbird Division. According to this source the 101st arrived in the town of Dachau at 9:30 a.m. on April 29th.

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. that day.

Nerin E. Gun, a Turkish journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, wrote that “The Americans were not simply advancing; they were running, flying, breaking all the rules of military conduct, mounting their pieces on captured trucks, using tractors, bicycles, carts, trailers, anything on wheels that they could get their hands on. The Second Battation, 222nd Reigment, 42nd Divison, was coming brazenly, impudently down the highway, its general in the lead.”

On their way to Munich, the 42nd Division soldiers had met some newspaper reporters and photographers who told them about the camp and offered to show them the way. Lt. William Cowling was with Brig. Gen. Henning Linden when the first soldiers of the 42nd Division arrived at the camp and were met by 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker who was waiting near a gate on the south side, ready to surrender.

 

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