Scrapbookpages Blog

November 14, 2011

German soldiers were tortured before being killed at Dachau, according to an American Army medic

Veteran’s Day on November 11, 2011 was a day to remember the American soldiers who fought in past wars.  Al Bacchetta was an Army medic at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II; he was with the 116th Evacuation hospital which was stationed at Saarburg, France before the start of the Battle of the Bulge.  He worked 12 hours on duty, and 12 hours off throughout the Battle of the Bulge which lasted from December 1944 to January 1945.  Bacchetta said that there were lots of wounded German soldiers who were brought into the American hospital and “they were treated well.”

Bacchetta was also a medic with the 116th Evacuation Hospital when it arrived at Dachau two days after the camp was liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945.

In an interview with Bob Donaldson, which was videotaped, Al Bacchetta said this:

We got up to that fence [on the west side of the camp] and there were three German soldiers. They were stripped of their garments to the waist and guarding them was an American soldier and a Polish soldier.  They were both armed and the American soldier had lost a brother in the war.  So they had these fellows with their hands on the fence and they would pour some water on them from their neck down and it was a cold day in April or May and if they moved  — it was in essence a form of torture, you know — but it didn’t last long because the G.I. took all three into a concrete guard house [probably Tower B] and shot ‘em all.

Al Bacchetta wrote that the ovens were still burning when he arrived at Dachau.  Were the ovens “still burning” or were they fired up again to burn the bodies of the German soldiers who had been killed by the Americans on the day that the camp was liberated?

Bodies of German soldiers at Dachau are on the left side, waiting to be burned in the ovens

Bacchetta also said that he spoke to one of the inmates at Dachau who had been assigned to work in the crematoriums.  The inmate told Bacchetta that, after six months on such an assignment, inmate workers would be executed so they couldn’t tell what the Nazis did in camp.

Marcus J. Smith, a U.S. Army doctor, told a different story about the crematory workers in his book entitled The Harrowing of Hell. According to Smith, the chief of the crematorium crew was Ludvik “a heavy, powerfully muscled Czech who has labored in the crematorium for a long time.” Smith wrote that Ludvik sent him a letter in which he complained that his team of 10 people were not being treated as well as they had been by the SS. Ludvik wrote in this letter: “We feel that after our liberation, at least the same standard of living should be maintained. But our position is worse than then as to food, drinks and tobacco.”

Survivors of the Dachau death camp

Note the muscular guy wearing striped shorts.  This might be Ludvik, the crematorium worker. He could also be the man on the left in the photo below.

Former crematorium workers demonstrate how the bodies were put into the ovens at Dachau

The Germans had been burying the bodies of the inmates who died of typhus and other diseases on the hill called Leitenberg near the Dachau camp.

Marcus J. Smith wrote that, because the cremation efforts were too slow, the bodies of the prisoners who died after Dachau was liberated were buried by German civilians “at the American commander’s request.” The corpses were taken on carts to the burial site at Leitenberg where the bodies were transferred to a bulldozed excavation, according to Smith.

You can see the video for yourself on YouTube: