Scrapbookpages Blog

June 20, 2010

The 72nd Gun Battalion liberated Dachau on August 29, 1944. Who knew?

Irving Ross, a Jewish soldier who was with “the 109th Anti-Aircraft Battalion in North Africa and then with the 72nd Gun Battalion, attached to the 45th Division in the 3rd US Army,” told newspaper reporter Don Moore that his unit liberated Dachau on August 29, 1944.  Don Moore’s article about Irving Ross on this blog has since been deleted.

I continued searching for information on the subject of the 72nd Gun Battalion after a reader commented that the 72nd was actually named the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion.  I found a pdf file about Myron Greene who was with the 72nd. Greene was a dentist and he made 8mm films during World War II.

Here is a quote from Myron Greene on the pdf file which you can read here.

“On April 29, at 10 a.m., the 3rd Battalion of the
157th Regiment of the 45th Division found a
concentration camp. It was Dachau. What that
battalion encountered that day was so monstrous, it
took them only 10 minutes to take complete
control of the concentration camp. No words or
pictures can tell the story of Dachau. It was
certainly hell on Earth.
Because we had had our limited training in military
government, the 45th Division turned the
administration duties of the camp over to our
battalion at noon that day.”

It is true that the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division was the first to enter Dachau, but the Americans did not “take complete control of the concentration camp” until much later.  The 45th Division entered the SS garrison that was next door to the concentration camp on the morning of April 29, 1945 and began shooting the SS men, but they did not reach the concentration camp itself until the afternoon of that day.

The 45th Division could not have turned the administration of the Dachau concentration camp over to the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion at noon on April 29th because the Dachau camp was not surrendered to the Americans until mid afternoon on April 29, 1945.  The glaring errors in Dr. Myron Greene’s story makes me think that the administration of the Dachau camp was not turned over to the 72nd AAA Gun Battalion at all.

Apparently Don Moore did not do any research to confirm this story.  I googled 72nd Gun Battalion and found nothing except Don Moore’s blog.

The 45th Division was with the Seventh Army when Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945.  The 72nd Gun Battalion, if it actually existed, is not recognized by the US Army and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as being liberators of Dachau.

Don Moore included the photo below, allegedly taken by Irving Ross at Dachau, after the camp was liberated by the 72nd Gun Battalion.  This photo was obviously not taken at Dachau. Notice that the fence posts are not curved at the top, which was a characteristic of fences in the Nazi concentration camps.

The photo was actually taken at Nordhausen, a camp in Germany which had factories where concentration camp prisoners worked; these prisoners had been killed by an Allied bomb that hit the factory.

Photo claimed by Irving Ross to show Dachau was actually taken at Nordhausen

The following quote is from Don Moore’s blog, “War Tales.”

What came next would stay with Ross, a Jewish sergeant from Rockaway Beach, Long Island, for the rest of his life.

Irving Ross, of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a member of the 109th Anti-aircraft Battalion in the North African Invasion in ’42. From there he fought on through Italy, France and into Germany as a member of the 72nd Gun Battalion.

“We knew nothing about German concentration camps. It was April 29, 1944, a Sunday, when the 72nd Battalion, along with the 45th Infantry Division, went through the city of Dachau and found the camp on the outskirts of the city,” he said.

“The first thing we did was turn off the power in the camp. Then we killed every one of the guards in the guard towers with our rifle butts. They were mostly Russian prisoners in those towers who worked for the Germans.”

They rounded up what was left of the German soldiers who were running Dachau. Three days later they were all dead—without the benefit of a war crimes tribunal.

[…]

As one of Colonel Doud’s primary functionaries by this time, he helped take over the administration of the facility. When he wasn’t burning or burying bodies he was shuffling papers trying to get things sorted out at Dachau.

[…]

“Then I’d take them and show them the shower heads in a room where thousands of people were gassed. Most people think the poison gas came out of the fake shower heads, but it didn’t. It came out of jets in the side of the walls. And there were little windows where the Germans could watch people dying.”

The towers at Dachau were not manned by Russian prisoners who were working for the Germans.

The photo below is shown on Don Moore’s “War Tales” with this caption:

Retribution: The Russian concentration camp guard in the foreground was killed by American soldiers who liberated the camp. They cracked-open his skull with their rifle butts, Irving Ross said. Other guards suffered the same fate at the hands of the invading U.S. troops.

Photo of Waffen-SS soldier, wearing battle camouflage uniform, killed by a bullet to the head

The photo above actually shows a Waffen-SS soldier, who had been sent to Dachau to help with the surrender of the camp; he was shot by American soldiers, in the 45th Division or the 42nd Division, who were the liberators of Dachau.

The story told by Irving Ross takes the prize for the biggest lie ever told about the liberation of Dachau.