Scrapbookpages Blog

September 13, 2015

Why were additional SS soldiers sent to Dachau just before the American liberators arrived?

Dachau prisoners on the day that they were liberated by American soldiers

Dachau prisoners on day that they were liberated by American soldiers (click to enlarge)

Scroll down for an update on why the Commandant was not at Dachau when the American liberators arrived.  He was leading a march of the prominent prisoners to the South Tyrol.  No one knows what happened to him.  He allegedly killed himself, but he was probably killed by the American liberators, whose policy was to shoot first and ask questions later.

Continue reading my original post:

This morning I read a news article which included the photo above, and contained the following quote:

American soldiers executed dozens of German guards at the Dachau WWII concentration camp after screaming: ‘Let’s get those Nazi dogs!’

The US troops opened fire on 50 members of the SS and the Wehrmacht with a machine gun after lining them up and saying: ‘Take no prisoners!’

One commander [Lt. William P. Walsh] shot dead four other Germans and became so hysterical that his own colonel had to hit him with the butt of his gun to stop him battering a fifth.

According to a new book, the Americans took revenge because they were so outraged at what they saw when they liberated Dachau, which was home to 32,000 prisoners kept in horrific conditions.

But what they did themselves on April 29, 1945 became one of the most controversial episodes in the US involvement in WWII.

Note that the article says that the Americans opened fire on dozens of German guards.  Wolf Murmelstein, a regular reader of my blog, wrote this in a recent comment:

I wonder who and why additional SS men were sent to Dachau and what were they supposed to do, as the Nazi SS High Commander surely had not been interested in keeping order at the moment of surrender. Maybe these SS men had been ordered to prevent the surrender, which had been decided upon by the acting Camp Commandant. In those days there had been many SS Officers who refused to obey Himmler –  who had already been removed by Hitler! – and his order to surrender the camps. A critical study of facts is necessary.

I have made a critical study of the facts of the Dachau surrender, and I have written extensively about Dachau on my website, starting in 1998, after my first visit to the former Dachau camp in 1997.

I have a whole section on the liberation of the Dachau camp:  http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/index.html

Lt. Wicker surrendered the Dachau camp to American soldiers under a white flag of truce

SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrendered Dachau to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden under a white flag of truce, after which Wicker was killed by the American liberators.

The main Dachau camp was surrendered to Brigadier General Henning Linden of the 42nd Rainbow Division by SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker, who is the second man from the right in the photo above.

Wicker was accompanied by Red Cross representative Victor Maurer who had just arrived the day before with five trucks loaded with food packages. In the photo above, the arrow points to Marguerite Higgins, one of the American reporters, who was covering the story.

The dead body of Lt. Wicker who surrendered Dachau to the Americans

The dead body of Lt. Wicker who surrendered Dachau to the Americans “liberators”

The liberation of Dachau was America’s finest hour. Americans still brag out it.  The killing of German soldiers who had surrendered didn’t bother them a bit.

Dachau prisoners celebrate their liberation from Dachau by drinking wine

Dachau prisoners celebrate their liberation from Dachau

In the photo above, notice how emaciated and tortured the prisoners are — NOT!

Lt. William P. Walsh was one of the liberators of Dachau.  I have written about him in several blog posts which you can read at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/lt-william-walsh/

Lt. Walsh is a despicable person, who readily admits that he committed a crime by killing German soldiers who had been sent to surrender the Dachau camp to the Americans. But he could care less; he is proud of committing a war crime.

Bodies of German SS soldiers who were killed after they surrendered

Bodies of German SS soldiers who were killed after they had surrendered

An investigation of the Dachau surrender was  conducted between May 3 and May 8, 1945 by Lt. Col. Joseph M. Whitaker. This is known as the I.G. Report, which concluded that the total number of SS men killed on April 29, 1945 at Dachau was somewhere between 50 and 60, including the SS soldiers who were killed after they surrendered at Tower B, shown in the photo above.

Most of the bodies of the dead German soldiers had been thrown into the moat and then shot repeatedly after they were already dead, according to testimony given to the investigators by American soldiers who were there.

No Americans were killed or wounded during the liberation of Dachau. The SS men had been ordered not to shoot and there was no resistance as they were massacred by the liberators.

The body of a dead SS soldier who was sent to surrender the camp

The body of a dead SS soldier who was sent to surrender the Dachau camp

So get the story straight, all you readers of my blog.  It was the Americans who acted badly and committed war crimes at Dachau.  Those who are still alive are still going around bragging about their crimes.

Update 11:26 a.m

Wolf Murmelstein has pointed out that I did not mention the prominent prisoners at Dachau.  I am adding the following information:

On April 26, 1945, three days before the American liberators arrived at Dachau, a transport of 1,735 Jewish prisoners left on a train bound for the mountains in southern Germany. Then another 6,887 prisoners, half of them Jews and half of them Russian POWs, were marched south toward the mountains of the South Tyrol. According to testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT, the march to the Tyrol was part of a plan, devised by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, to kill all these prisoners.

At the Nuremberg IMT, on January 2, 1946, Lt. Commander Whitney R. Harris submitted Document 3462-PS, the sworn interrogation of Bertus Gerdes, the former Gaustabsamtsleiter under the Gauleiter of Munich. This interrogation was taken in the course of an official military investigation by the U.S. Army. During the interrogation, Gerdes was ordered to state all he knew about Kaltenbrunner.

Lt. Commander Harris read part of Document 3462-PSI, beginning with the third paragraph of Page 2, as quoted below from the transcript of the Nuremberg IMT on January 2, 1946:

“Giesler told me that Kaltenbrunner was in constant touch with him because he was greatly worried about the attitude of the foreign workers and especially inmates of Concentration Camps Dachau, Mühldorf, and Landsberg, which were in the path of the approaching Allied armies. On a Tuesday in the middle of April 1945 I received a telephone call from Gauleiter Giesler asking me to be available for a conversation that night. In the course of our personal conversation that night, I was told by Giesler that he had received a directive from Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner, by order of the Fuehrer, to work out a plan without delay for the liquidation of the concentration camp at Dachau and the two Jewish labor camps in Landsberg and Mühldorf. The directive proposed to liquidate the two Jewish labor camps at Landsberg and Mühldorf by use of the German Luftwaffe, since the construction area of these camps had previously been the targets of repeated enemy air attacks. This action received the code name of ‘Wolke A-1.'”

“I was certain that I would never let this directive be carried out. As the action Wolke A-1 should have become operational already for some time, I was literally swamped by couriers from Kaltenbrunner and moreover I was supposed to have discussed the details of the Mühldorf and Landsberg actions in detail with the two Kreisleiter concerned. The couriers, who were in most cases SS officers, usually SS Untersturmfuehrer, gave me terse and strict orders to read and initial. The orders threatened me with the most terrible punishment, including execution, if I did not comply with them. However, I could always excuse my failure to execute the plan because of bad flying weather and lack of gasoline and bombs. Therefore, Kaltenbrunner ordered that the Jews in Landsberg be marched to Dachau in order to include them in the Dachau extermination operations, and that the Mühldorf action was to be carried out by the Gestapo.

“Kaltenbrunner also ordered an operation Wolkenbrand for the Concentration Camp Dachau, which provided that the inmates of the concentration camp at Dachau were to be liquidated by poison with the exception of Aryan nationals of the Western Powers.

“Gauleiter Giesler received this order direct from Kaltenbrunner and discussed in my presence the procurement of the required amounts of poison with Dr. Harrfeld, the Gau health chief. Dr. Harrfeld promised to procure these quantities when ordered and was advised to await my further directions. As I was determined to prevent the execution of this plan in any event, I gave no further instructions to Dr. Harrfeld.

“The inmates of Landsberg had hardly been delivered at Dachau when Kaltenbrunner sent a courier declaring the Action Wolkenbrand was operational.

“I prevented the execution of the Wolfe A-1’ and ‘Wolkenbrand’ by giving Giesler the reason that the front was too close and asked him to transmit this on to Kaltenbrunner.

“Kaltenbrunner therefore issued directives in writing to Dachau to transport all Western European prisoners by truck to Switzerland and to march the remaining inmates into Tyrol, where the final liquidation of these prisoners was to take place without fail.”

Rudolf Hoess, the former Commandant of Auschwitz, testified at Nuremberg, as a defense witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner, that he had no knowledge of a plan to destroy the Dachau camp with a bomb or with poison.

July 25, 2013

Why was the report on the “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau” kept secret until 1991?

German POWs being executed in a coal yard inside the SS garrison

German POWs being executed by American soldiers in a coal yard inside the SS garrison

The bodies of the dead SS soldiers, shown in the photo above, were left in the coal yard at Dachau, where they had been killed, until May 3, 1945 when the incident was investigated by Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, the Seventh Army’s Assistant Inspector General. A report on the “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau” was filed on June 8, 1945. It was marked secret, but the contents were later revealed to the public in 1991. A copy of the report is included in Col. John H. Linden’s book The Surrender of Dachau 29 April 1945.

Why was this incident, which has since become known as “The Dachau Massacre,” kept secret for 46 years?

Why wasn’t the incident immediately made known to the public so that haters of the German people all over the world could have celebrated this news? After keeping this secret for 46 years, why reveal the truth at all?

Today, it is impossible to write anything about the “Alleged Mistreatment of German guards at Dachau” without attracting hateful comments, ranting about how these German POWs “deserved to die.”

The dead soldiers in the photo above were not German “Guards” of the Dachau concentration camp. Most of them were German SS soldiers, who had been stationed in the SS garrison that was adjacent to the camp. Others were wounded Wehrmacht soldiers, who had been dragged out of a hospital inside the SS garrison.

The photo below shows American soldiers looking at the bodies of the first four SS soldiers who surrendered to Lt. William Walsh.  Lt. Walsh marched these POWs to a train, parked outside the SS garrison, and shot them after they had surrendered in good faith.  The feet of one of the soldiers are shown, hanging out of the box car.

The first four SS who surrendered at Dachau were taken to this train and shot

The first four SS who surrendered at Dachau were taken to this train and shot

At the time that the German soldiers were shot in the coal yard, with their hands in the air, the American soldiers in the 45th Division had not yet seen the Dachau concentration camp that was next door to the SS garrison, and the soldiers in the 42nd Division had not yet arrived at the Dachau compound.  This was a clear case of American soldiers shooting POWs that had surrendered, and had their hands in the air.

The bodies of the German soldiers in the coal yard were left out until the U.S. Army could do an investigation.

The paragraphs below are from the “Secret Report” done by the U.S. Army, which pertain to the “Execution of German soldiers by members of the 45th Division.”  Why did the U.S. Army call the shooting of the SS soldiers an Execution?  Were the German POWs given a trial before they were “Executed”?

4. At the entrance to the back area of the Dachau prison grounds, four German soldiers surrendered to Lt. William P. Walsh, 0-414901, in command of Company “I”, 157th Infantry. These prisoners Lt. Walsh ordered into a box car, where he personally shot them. Pvt. Albert C. Pruitt, 34573708, Company “I”157th Infantry, then climbed into the box car where these Germans were on the floor moaning and apparently still alive, and finished them off with his rifle.

5. After entry into the Dachau Camp area, Lt. Walsh segregated from surrendered prisoners of war those who were identified as SS Troops.

6. Such segregated prisoners of war were marched into a separate enclosure, lined up against the wall and shot down by American troops, who were acting under the orders of Lt. Walsh. A light machine gun, carbines, and either a pistol or a sub-machine gun were used. Seventeen of such prisoners of war were killed, and others were wounded.

7. Lt. Jack Bushyhead, 0-1284822, executive officer of Company “I”, participated with Lt. Walsh in this handling of the men and during the course of the shooting personally fired his weapon at these prisoners.

16. Lt. Walsh testified that the SS men were segregated in order to properly guard them, and were then fired upon because they started moving toward the guards. However, the dead bodies were located along the wall against which they had been lined up, they were killed along the entire line, although Lt. Walsh only claims those on one flank moved, and a number of witnesses testified that it was generally “understood” that these prisoners were to be shot when they were being segregated. These facts contradict the defensive explanation given by Lt. Walsh.

Surrender of the Dachau camp by 2nd Lt. Wicker

Surrender of the Dachau camp by 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker

In his report to Headquarters, written on 2 May 1945, Brig. Gen. Henning Linden, of the 42nd Division of the U.S. Army, wrote the following:

As we approached the Southwest corner, three people came forward with a flag of truce. They were a Swiss Red Cross representative, Victor Maurer, and two SS troopers who said they were the camp commander [SS Lieutenant Wickert] and his assistant. They had come here on the night of the 28th to take over from the regular personnel, for the purpose of surrendering the camp to the advancing Americans. The Swiss Red Cross representative said there were about one hundred SS guards in the camp who had their arms stacked, except for the people in the tower…He had given instructions that there were no shots to be fired, and that it would take 50 men to relieve the guards, as there were 42,000 “half-crazed” inmates, many of them typhus-infected….

Note that Brig. Gen. Linden incorrectly referred to SS 2nd Lt. Wicker as Wickert.  After surrendering the Dachau concentration camp to the Americans, 2nd Lt. Wicker was never seen again. It is not known when nor how he was killed.

Dachau was surrendered to the 42nd Div. of the U.S. Army under a flag of truce

Dachau was surrendered to the 42nd Div. of the U.S. Army under a flag of truce

According to 1st Lt. William Cowling, who was with Brig. Gen. Linden at the time that the camp was surrendered, the 42nd Division had been advancing down a road toward Munich when, by chance, they heard about the Dachau concentration camp.

In a letter to his family back home, written on April 30, 1945, Cowling wrote:

Enroute we learned from civilians and two newspaper people that just off the main road was a concentration camp of Dachau, oldest largest and most notorious camp in Germany. These newspaper people were going up to see the camp so we decided to go up too.

We ride in a Jeep with a guard out ahead of the boys and we were several hundred yards ahead as we approached the Camp. The first thing we came to was a railroad track leading out of the Camp with a lot of open box cars on it. As we crossed the track and looked back into the cars the most horrible sight I have ever seen (up to that time) met my eyes. The cars were loaded with dead bodies. Most of them were naked and all of them skin and bones. Honest their legs and arms were only a couple of inches around and they had no buttocks at all. Many of the bodies had bullet holes in the back of their heads. It made us sick at our stomach and so mad we could do nothing but clinch our fists. I couldn’t even talk. We then moved on towards the Camp and my Jeep was still several hundred yards ahead. As we approached the main gate a German officer and a civilian wearing an International Red Cross band and carrying a white flag came out. We immediately filed out and I was just hoping he would make a funny move so I could hit the trigger of my tommy gun. He didn’t however, and when he arrived abreast of us he asked for an American officer. I informed him he a was talking to one and he said he wished to surrender the camp to me.

The photo below shows Brig. Gen. Linden on the far left, with the Red Cross representative in the center and Lt. Wicker, standing next to him.  Wicker’s aid has his hands on his head.  They had been taken to the “death train,” after surrendering the camp, but claimed to know nothing about it.

Lt. Wicker was taken to see the "death train" which he claimed to know nothing about

2nd Lt. Wicker was taken to see the “death train” but he claimed to know nothing about it

SS soldiers had been sent from the battlefield to keep order while the Dachau camp was being surrendered.  They were killed before the U.S. soldiers found out that these were not the guards in the camp.  The guards had left the night before.

SS soldier who had been sent from the battlefield to surrender Dachau

SS soldier who had been sent from the battlefield to surrender Dachau

When you are fighting a war and winning, there is no need to ask questions.  Just shoot every man in sight and hope that one of your victims was a “war criminal,” not a POW with rights under the Geneva Convention of 1929.

My blog post today was inspired by the following comment on another website:

Re: The Dachau Massacre of Guards

SignifierOne, I think the issue that people are trying to argue is that, as Prisoners of War, under the Geneva Conventions, these men should have been detained and processed and then put to trial, tried for crimes against humanity, then executed instead of summarily executed on the spot.

Executing POWs is wrong but in the case of Dachau and with concentration camp SS guards I, personally, would make an exception because of pure outrage. As far as the foreign [Hungarian] SS volunteers that were executed, they would have simply either been repatriated to their country of origin and executed for treason or possibly escape justice by joining the French Foreign Legion.

The “outrage” that caused the American soldiers to “execute” the SS men without a trial was the sight of the “Death Train.”  The American executioners did not bother to examine the train and see that the prisoners had been killed by the strafing of the train by American planes.  The train had taken over 3 weeks to travel 220 miles from the Buchenwald camp because American soldiers had bombed the railroad tracks.

April 16, 2010

65 years ago, Americans accepted the surrender of the Dachau concentration camp…

April 29, 2010 will be the 65th anniversary of the surrender of the Dachau concentration camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden of the 42nd Infantry Division of the US Seventh Army by SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker, accompanied by Red Cross representative Victor Maurer, holding a white flag. (more…)