Scrapbookpages Blog

February 4, 2013

the controversy over the “Dachau Massacre” lives on

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:49 am

I previously blogged about the “Dachau Massacre” here and here and here.  I also blogged about the IG report on the killing of the SS guards at Tower B here.

Famous photo of the "Dachau Massacre"

Famous photo of the “Dachau Massacre”

Today, I did a google search which turned up this entry on a yahoo group. The man that wrote this entry, which I am quoting below, believes that only “around 40” Hungarian and German soldiers were killed on the day that Dachau was liberated.  Howard Buechner wrote a book in which he said that 560 soldiers were killed by American troops that day.

Quote from a yahoo group:

Warning please…if you are related to Howard Buechner, you will not
necessarily like what I will write there. I will try and be diplomatic, as
diplomatic as one can be towards a Veteran who not only seems to have been
a pathological liar, but also had no qualms about inflicting fellow vets
with new traumas derived from the lies he spread in a self-aggrandizing
little excuse for a history book he wrote in 1986 entitled *The Hour of the
Avenger.*

I wouldn’t trust a word in that book, nor in some others I see he penned.

I have the proof, as best as can be found today. I will be posting it on
that page this week.

It includes copies of the relevant testimony of Buechner in 1945, testimony
he never thought would come to light.

He wrote his malicious book in 1986. The classified IG report only surfaced
in 1990 or 1991. In it he contradicts, without question, the lies he spread
in 1986…and, later for all I know. The army clerk misspelled his name in
the IG report as “Buchner”, but it’s him alright.

I regard the men of the 45th as “heroes” of a sort, with whatever flaws
they bore. My dad was one, both a hero and flawed. He would not have liked
the reputation of such brave men sullied by a noted physician and wanna-be
successful author. Literary critique? Buechner’s writings remind me of that
which an elementary schooler might do with certain terms. He calls himself,
in his mendacious work, “The Witness”. Yeah….right.

He wasn’t the witness to what he writes about, though he arrived later at
the scene. There were others who were. Their testimony is in the IG report.

He should have been court-martialed for dereliction of duty. That was the
recommendation of the investigative officer. Buechner may never have known
that.

Again, apologies if you are related or if you have read and believed that
book.

I have written extensively on my website about Howard Buechner’s account of the “Dachau Massacre.”   This quote is from this page of  my website:

In the first hour of the liberation, while Col. Buechner was setting up his Aid Station in the town of Dachau, 122 SS men had allegedly been “shot on the spot,” after they had surrendered to the 45th Division, according to George Stevens, Jr. who did a documentary film on the liberation; he was quoted by Col. Buechner in his book. The killing of 122 SS men in “the first hour,” was also reported by Michael Seltzer in his book entitled “Deliverance Day,” and subsequently repeated by many other writers. […]

Stevens also told Col. Buechner that 40 SS guards had been beaten to death by the inmates, or shot with guns given to them by the American liberators, and 20 more SS guards were killed by American soldiers when they attempted to surrender after descending from the guard towers. Another 100 SS guards were murdered in unrelated killings by individual soldiers of both the 42nd and 45th Divisions, according to George Stevens, as told to Col. Buechner. These events had taken place during the 30 minute period of chaos, at the beginning of the liberation, before order could be restored. Lt. Col. Sparks said that during this time, “battle hardened veterans became extremely distraught. Some cried, while others raged. Some thirty minutes passed before I could restore order and discipline.”

When the situation was brought under control, 358 SS men were rounded up and herded into an enclosed area that had been used as a coal yard before the camp had run out of coal. Shortly thereafter, 12 SS men were machine-gunned to death in an execution in front of the coal yard wall.

The photograph below shows American military officers inspecting the bodies of the 12 Waffen-SS soldiers who were executed in the incident at the coal yard.

American soldiers inspect bodies in the coal yard

American soldiers inspect bodies in the coal yard

The execution of the SS men at the coal yard was stopped by Lt. Col. Felix Sparks who kicked a machine gunner away from the gun. According to Lt. Col. Sparks, the machine gunner was a soldier whose nickname was “Birdeye.” Birdeye had shouted “they are trying to get away,” and had then cut loose with his .30 caliber machine gun. This incident brought the total number of dead to 174, according to Col. Buechner. Later, when the 346 Waffen-SS men were allegedly killed on the orders of Lt. Bushyhead, the total number of soldiers executed increased to 520. In addition, Col. Buechner wrote that 30 SS men had been “killed in combat” and 10 had escaped temporarily, but were captured and killed later, bringing the grand total to 560 SS men killed during the liberation of Dachau.

Col. Buechner could have gotten his information about the 560 SS soldiers at Dachau from an article written by Andrew Mello in 1980 in After the Battle. Mello used Nerin E. Gun’s book The Day of the Americans as his source. Gun wrote that an SS officer named Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky had reported that there were 560 SS men under his command when he surrendered the Dachau Army garrison to the men of the 45th Thunderbird Division.

The man who surrendered the Dachau concentration camp was Lt. Heinrich Wicker, who was accompanied by a civilian Red Cross representative.

The total number of enemy soldiers who were killed by American soldiers at Dachau is unknown. Howard Buechner wrote his book after getting information from Private John Degro, who was there when the camp was liberated.  You can read about John Degro on this page of my website.

The following information is from this page of my website:

An investigation was conducted by the US Army between May 3 and May 8, 1945, which resulted in a report entitled “Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau.” Israel wrote that 23 officers and enlisted men of the 45th Infantry Division and 9 officers and enlisted men of the 42nd Infantry Division were questioned in Pullach and Munich, Germany. Lt. Col. Joseph M. Whitaker headed the investigation; the report, which was filed on June 8, 1945, is sometimes called “the I.G. Report.” In 1991 a copy of the I.G. Report was found in the National Archives in Washington, DC and was made public.

The following paragraphs from the I.G. Report pertain to the shooting of SS men at Dachau by soldiers in the 45th Division:

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.

There was no mention in the I.G. Report of a second incident in which 346 SS men were allegedly shot at the coal yard wall.

As a result of the investigation, the American soldiers who were involved in the execution of SS men at Dachau were threatened with court-martial, including Lt. Col. Felix Sparks and 1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead. Buechner had not been present during the execution; he was cited in the I.G. Report for dereliction of duty because he refused to give medical aid to the SS men who were still alive after the shooting which resulted in 12 to 17 deaths in the coal yard.

April 29, 2010

Who entered Dachau first on April 29, 1945?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 7:34 pm

Several American soldiers claim to have been the first person to enter the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. Private First Class John Degro, the lead scout of I Company, 3rd BN, 157th Infantry, 45th Division, says that he was the first American soldier to enter the camp. Col. Howard Buechner, a 45th Division Medical Corps officer, quoted Degro in his book “Dachau, the Hour of the Avenger”:

“As lead scout, I shot the lock off the gate and entered the compound. There were 32,000 inmates, screaming, between hugging and kissing us. The stench was unbearable. We backed out the gate, let a few inmates out and gave them weapons. We cleaned out the guard towers, took knapsacks off of the dead SS and threw them over the barbed wire into the compound.” (more…)