Scrapbookpages Blog

January 21, 2016

Just what we need …. another book about the liberation of Dachau

Cover of new book about the liberation of Dachau

The photo above shows the cover of a new book about Dachau. In the photo, American soldiers are examining dead bodies that they had found on a train that was parked on a railroad track just outside the Dachau concentration camp.  These American soldiers assumed that the bodies were the bodies of Jews that had been shot by the evil Nazis.

Actually, these bodies were the bodies of Jews that had been killed when American planes had strafed this train just before it reached the Dachau camp. The prisoners were being taken to Dachau in order to turn them over to the American liberators, who were on their way. You can read all about the “death train” on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/DeathTrain.html

In my humble opinion, I don’t think that this is a suitable photo to use on the cover of a book about Dachau. I would have used the photo below for a cover of a book about the American liberation of Dachau; the photo shows an SS man surrendering the Dachau camp to the Americans.

SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrenders Dachau camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden

SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrenders Dachau camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden

The photo below would also be appropriate for a book about the liberation of Dachau. This photo shows Dachau prisoners celebrating after killing some of the guards in the camp. The American liberators allowed, and even even encouraged this, by joining in the killing.

Dachau priosoners celebrate after killing SS men at Dachau

Dachau priosoners celebrate after killing SS men at Dachau

The main Dachau camp was surrendered, on April 29, 1945, 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 first 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 first photo above, the arrow points to Marguerite Higgins, one of the reporters, who was covering the war.

The surrender of the Dachau camp took place near a gate into the SS garrison that was right next to the prison enclosure.

The following quote is at the very end of the news article:

Anyone found guilty of denying the Holocaust should be locked up for a year with nothing to read but this book.

Actually, the news article, which you can read in full here starts with the following quote:

Begin quote

“Hell Before Their Very Eyes” is John McManus‘ third book about World War II. The Curators’ Professor of History at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Mr. McManus writes that he chose this topic because, having written often about combat, he was “struck by the frequency with which combat veterans ventured the opinion that the most unforgettable, and sometimes traumatic, aspect of their wartime service was the experience of liberating or witnessing a concentration camp.”

Historians estimate that there were as many as 20,000 camps of several different types, but Mr. McManus has chosen to focus on the liberation of just three camps — Ohrdruf, Buchenwald and Dachau, which were liberated in that order in April, 1945. Although the American troops knew of the camps’ existence, none of them were prepared for what they found. “These men discovered,” Mr. McManus writes, ” the very depths of human-imposed cruelty and depravity . For the Americans who witnessed such powerful evidence of Nazi crimes, the experience was life altering. Most reacted with anger, revulsion and abject disgust … . Almost all were haunted for the rest of their lives by what they had seen.”

[…]

Obviously, this is not a book for the squeamish, so it’s important to note that the author presents the gruesome material, of which there is a great deal, with both care and compassion. For example, he spends several pages on the discovery of the “Dachau death train,” 39 boxcars filled with prisoners’ corpses. Of all the horrific sights seen by the G.I.s who liberated the various camps, this one in particular would haunt many of them for life.

[…]

Eisenhower also encouraged journalists to visit the camps. One reporter who quickly accepted Ike’s invitation was Marguerite Higgins of the New York Herald-Tribune. Mr. McManus writes that, initially, when questioning survivors, “Her tone was distrustful and brusque” but after having been shown around the camp, and seeing “the ovens and the stacks of bodies, she softened considerably. (Later in life she would feel great shame at her initial insensitivity.)”

End quote

Marguerite Higgins did not “accept Eisenhower’s invitation to visit the camps.”  She was a reporter who was a war correspondent; she was following the troops. She was at Dachau on the day when the camp was surrendered to the American troops.

After Dachau was surrendered, the American liberators proceeded to kill SS men in the camp, who had surredered. You can read about the “Dachau massacre” on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/SoldiersKilled.html

 

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…)

April 26, 2010

Newspaper accounts of the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945

Mon., April 30, 1945***** Chicago Herald-American

BY HOWARD COWAN

DACHAU, Germany, April 30. –(AP)–

The U.S. 42nd and 45th divisions captured the infamous Dachau prison camp today and freed its 32,000 captives.

Two columns of infantry, riding tanks, bulldozers and Long Tom rifles – anything with wheels – rolled down from the northwest and surprised the S S (Elite Corps) guards in the extermination camp shortly after the lunch hour. (more…)