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February 28, 2010

The “accidental slaughter” of German soldiers at Dachau was “an unintended massacre”?

I previously blogged about the movie Shutter Island and the scenes of Dachau in these 3 posts:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/shutter-island-scene-shows-dachau-massacre/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/shutter-island-dachau-flashbacks/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/the-liberation-of-dachau-scene-in-shutter-island/

I am blogging about the movie again because I was horrified when I read an article today on this website:

“As an American soldier during WWII, DiCaprio’s character is forced into some horrific scenes. These eventually lead to the accidental slaughter of a hundred SS officers. The unintended massacre plagues DiCaprio with guilt; but not too much: he still stands idly by while a Nazi commander botches a suicide attempt and bleeds to death, fully conscious.”

Waffen-SS soldiers surrendering at Dachau

Waffen-SS soldiers, who had come from the battlefield, still wearing their camouflage uniforms, to surrender the Dachau concentration camp, are shown in the photo above with their hands in the air. This scene was re-enacted in the movie Shutter Island.

The shooting of disarmed German soldiers during the liberation of Dachau was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Seventh Army. Their report was finished on June 8, 1945 but was marked Secret. The report did not say anything about “the unintended massacre” of German soldiers, nor anything about German soldiers  being “accidentally slaughtered.”

German soldiers executed by American liberators of Dachau

A Waffen-SS soldier named Hans Linberger  survived the shooting at the wall, shown in the photo above.  He had been wounded in battle on the eastern front and, after a long hospital stay, he had arrived at the Dachau SS garrison on March 9, 1945 as a member of a Reserve Company. On April 9, 1945, the men of the Reserve Company were put into the hospital that was right next to the scene of the shooting. They had been so severely wounded that they were no longer fit for combat; Linberger had been wounded in battle four times and had lost an arm.

Hans Linberger was dragged out of the hospital and lined up against the wall to be executed, although he had absolutely nothing to do with the Dachau concentration camp that was next door to the SS garrison.

The photograph above is a still photo, taken by T/4 Arland B. Musser, 163rd Signal Photographic Company, US Seventh Army, on April 29, 1945, the day that the Dachau concentration camp was liberated. It shows 60 Waffen-SS soldiers on the ground, some wounded, some playing dead, and 17 dead, according to Flint Whitlock, historian for the 45th Thunderbird Division, who got this information from Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division of the US Seventh Army, the first unit to arrive at the Dachau camp.

In his book entitled Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp 29 April 1945, Col. John H. Linden of the 42nd Infantry Division identified the men in the photo above as follows:

“The second American soldier from the left is Bryant, whose first name is unknown, but whose nickname was “Bird Eye.” The third soldier from the left is Martin J. Sedler, and the man who is kneeling is William C. Curtain. All three of these men were with M Company of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment. The soldier at the extreme right is Pfc. John Lee of I Company.

The buildings in the background are inside the Dachau SS garrison where Waffen-SS troops were quartered; the building on the right is a hospital where a Reserve Company of crippled Waffen-SS soldiers, previously wounded in action, were quartered. The Waffen-SS was the elite volunteer Army which included many divisions from other countries, as well as German soldiers.

According to Col. John H. Linden’s account of the liberation of Dachau, T/3 Henry F. Gerzen, 163 Signal Photographic Company, was filming the shooting with a movie camera. A few frames of this movie, which survived the cover-up of the Dachau massacre, show Lt. Col. Felix Sparks firing his pistol into the air to stop the action shown in the photo above, which allegedly took place around noon.

In 1989, Lt. Col. Sparks wrote an account of the role of the 45th Infantry Division in the liberation of Dachau. His description of what happened at the wall, shown in the photo above, is as follows:

As I watched, about fifty German troops were brought in from various directions. A machine gun squad from Company I was guarding the prisoners. After watching for a few minutes, I started for the confinement area (the concentration camp), after taking directions from one of my soldiers. After I had walked away for a short distance, I heard the machine gun guarding the prisoners open fire. I immediately ran back to the gun and kicked the gunner off the gun with my boot. I then grabbed him by the collar and said: “What the hell are you doing?” He was a young private about 19 years old (Private William C. Curtin) and was crying hysterically. His reply to me was: “Colonel, they were trying to get away.” I doubt that they were, but in any event he killed about twelve of the prisoners and wounded several more. I placed a noncom on the gun and headed towards the confinement area.

The very first incident during which German Waffen-SS soldiers were killed at Dachau was perpetrated by 45th Infantry Division soldiers in the  3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment, I company, under the command of Lt. William P. Walsh; this shooting took place inside the SS garrison at Dachau before any Americans had reached the concentration camp.

According to Lt. Walsh, one of the men of I company shot a handsome SS officer because he had tried to make a break to escape, after he had surrendered. The name of this German soldier is unknown.

Then four more Waffen-SS soldiers in the Dachau garrison emerged with their hands up and surrendered to the men of I company.  Lt. Walsh herded the four SS soldiers into an empty railroad boxcar inside the camp and “emptied his pistol” into them, according to his own account.

There is considerable disagreement about what time the photo above was taken. According to Col. Howard A. Buechner, a medical officer in the 45th Division, the photo was taken at around 2:45 p.m. during a second action when 346 SS soldiers were allegedly killed. In his book, The Hour of the Avenger, Col. Buechner wrote that a second machine gun was located to the right, but out of camera range.

Lt. Jack Bushyhead was in charge of the second machine gun, which Col. Buechner says was set up on top of a bicycle shed. However, Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment, has stated that the photo above depicts a shooting which occurred around noon and resulted in 17 deaths, according to his story.

This was not the only shooting that took place during the liberation of Dachau.  There were also SS guards in Tower B who had come down from the tower and surrendered, but were then killed in cold blood by the American liberators.

Tower B where SS guards at Dachau were shot

A dead SS guard at Dachau is pulled out of the moat

After the soldiers in Tower B were shot with their hands in the air, their dead bodies were then thrown into the moat on the west side of the camp, and the American liberators continued to shoot at them.

The U.S. Seventh Army IG report of the shooting of unarmed prisoners at Dachau has since been made public and a copy of it was reproduced in Col. John H. Linden’s book entitled Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp 29 April 1945.

Here are four paragraphs from the report which pertain to the shooting of the guards at Tower B:

11. After entry into the camp, personnel of the 42nd Division discovered the presence of guards, presumed to be SS men, in a tower to the left of the main gate of the inmate stockade. This tower was attacked by Tec 3 Henry J. Wells 39271327, Headquarters Military Intelligence Service, ETO, covered and aided by a party under Lt. Col. Walter J. Fellenz, 0-23055, 222 Infantry. No fire was delivered against them by the guards in the tower. A number of Germans were taken prisoner; after they were taken, and within a few feet of the tower, from which they were taken, they were shot and killed.

12. Considerable confusion exists in the testimony as to the particulars of this shooting; however Wells, German interrogator for the 222 Infantry, states that he had lined these Germans up in double rank, preparatory to moving them out; that he saw no threatening gesture; but that he shot into them after some other American soldiers, whose identities are unknown, started shooting them.

13. Lt. Colonel Fellenz was entering the door of the tower at the time of this shooting, took no part in it and testified that he could not have stopped it.

18. It is obvious that the Americans present when the guards were shot at the tower labored under much excitement. However Wells could speak German fluently, he knew no shots had been fired at him in his attack on the tower, he had these prisoners lined up, he saw no threatening gesture or act. It is felt that his shooting into them was entirely unwarranted; the whole incident smacks of execution similar to the other incidents described in this report.”

None of the American soldiers that killed the guards, who had surrendered at Dachau, were ever put on trial for violating the Geneva Convention. The regular guards and staff members had left the camp the night before, so they were not there for the massacre. The guards and staff members, who were captured after the camp was liberated, were prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal.  It wasn’t really a “trial,” because the men on trial were presumed to be guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around.

All of the guards and staff members of the Dachau camp were convicted of participating in a “common design” to violate the Laws and Usages of War under the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Some people have such hatred for the German people that they will go to any length to excuse the actions of the American soldiers at the liberation of Dachau, even though the German soldiers who were killed were not the regular guards in the camp.

Here is a quote from an e-mail that I received recently regarding the Dachau massacre:

I’m Jew (ich bin ein Jude), and it gave me a great deal of pleasure to see photos of German SS soldiers/guards murdered by American soldiers and liberated inmates.  How come you’re not happy?  Cheer up, people 🙂

February 22, 2010

The liberation of Dachau scene in Shutter Island

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:10 am

I’ve been reading hundreds of reviews of the movie Shutter Island, looking for one in which the reviewer understands the Dachau Massacre flashbacks, but so far, no luck.

For example, here is a quote from a review by Arron Mesh posted on the Willamette Week Online web site on Feb. 19 at 6:34 p.m.

As Leo gazed at the dead bodies piled like human waterfalls at Dachau, a woman seated behind me at the screening asked, “Is that the Holocaust?” Yes, ma’am.

No, ma’am, that’s not the Holocaust.  The Holocaust, with a capital H, was the state sponsored genocide of the Jews, which took place in what is now Poland, not at Dachau. And yes, I know about the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the others that the Nazis considered to be inferior, but they are not counted as part of the big H.

Political prisoners at Dachau were illegal combatants

Dachau was the equivalent of Guantanamo bay.  It was a prison camp for “enemies of the state.”  The majority of the prisoners at Dachau were “political prisoners” who were there because they had been captured as illegal combatants, who were fighting in violation of the Geneva convention of 1929.

Poland never surrendered in World War II, and the Polish soldiers continued to fight as illegal combatants, instead of fighting on the battlefield.  It was perfectly legal, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, to send them to a concentration camp instead of a POW camp.

Polish prisoners celebrate Dachau liberation

According to the official report by the US Army, there were 31,432 survivors in the main Dachau camp, including 2,539 Jews. Some of the Jews had been brought to Dachau from ghettos in Lithuania.  Others had been brought to the main Dachau camp from the sub-camps just a few weeks before the liberators arrived. Some of the Jews had arrived only the day before.

Some of the Jews at Dachau had originally been sent to Auschwitz, but had been brought back to Germany when the Auschwitz camp was abandoned.  When the Americans entered Germany in March 1945, the Germans started bringing the Jews from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp so that they could be turned over to the Allies.

Women who were brought from the sub-camps to Dachau

The dead bodies that the American soldiers saw were prisoners who had died in a typhus epidemic that started in December 1944 and accounted for half of the deaths in the 12-year history of Dachau.

The American soldiers couldn’t understand why the Dachau camp was not in pristine condition, at a time when Germany was 8 days away from surrendering, after fighting a war for 6 years.  Every major city in Germany had been bombed; refugees were clogging the highways, trying to escape from the Soviet soldiers who were raping and pillaging their way across Germany. Food was scarce because all the men who normally produced the food were in the Army, including, by this time, old men and young boys.

Dachau had been bombed by American planes three weeks before, and there was no electricity nor running water in the camp.  There was plenty of food though, because the transportation system had broken down and Dachau was the only camp that the Red Cross could reach.  Just the day before the Americans arrived, the Red Cross had brought in 5 truck loads of food.

The Germans were doing the best they could to feed the prisoners; they were cooking over wood burning stoves and hauling drinking water into the camp.

The Germans were trying to stop the typhus epidemic — without access to vaccine and DDT which America could have sent through the Red Cross. The toilets wouldn’t flush without running water and the prisoners had not been able to take a shower for three weeks.  The barracks were terribly overcrowded because around 15,000 prisoners had recently been brought in from the sub-camps.

If the American soldiers had arrived in 1938 at Dachau, they would have been astounded at how neat and clean the camp was.  They would have complained about the Nazis being too hard on the prisoners, making them take their shoes off before entering the barracks and insisting that the prisoners keep everything in perfect order in their lockers.  Dachau was like an Army boot camp, only worse.

The political prisoners at Dachau were there to be rehabilitated and to learn the most important Nazi virtues which were painted on the roof of the main building where all the prisoners could see them.

Cross put up by the Catholic prisoners at Dachau

The German words on the roof translate into English as follows: “There is one road to freedom. Its milestones are: Obedience, Diligence, Honesty, Orderliness, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Self-Sacrifice, and Love of the Fatherland.”

The American liberators should have looked at the uniforms of the German soldiers before taking revenge because of the conditions in the camp.  Some of the German soldiers who were killed were Wehrmacht soldiers or Waffen-SS soldiers who had no responsibility for the concentration camps.

February 20, 2010

Shutter Island – Dachau flashbacks

Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited new movie Shutter Island opened on February 19, 2010.  I was there when the doors opened because I was very anxious to see how the flashback scene of the Dachau massacre would be portrayed.

I previously posted some photos of the movie set for the Dachau flashbacks.  It turns out that the Dachau scene was completely changed and those photos are no longer valid.

Before I saw the movie, I foolishly thought that Teddy Daniels, the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was having nightmares about Dachau because he felt some guilt or remorse about shooting German Prisoners of War in cold blood.  It turns out that the fictional Teddy Daniels is a German-hater and he was traumatized by seeing the dead bodies of prisoners who had died in the typhus epidemic at Dachau, not by what he refers to as the “murder” of the guards.

In the film, there is a German doctor at the Shutter Island mental hospital, played by Max von Sydow, who looks German, but according to some of the reviews, he is actually Swedish in real life.  As Teddy Daniels is talking with Dr. Naehring, played by von Sydow, Teddy suddenly starts speaking German out of the blue.  In real life, Leonard DiCaprio speaks fluent German, which he learned from his German grandmother. The German words are not translated, but most people will catch the German word Konzentrationslager, which means concentration camp in English.

Teddy’s purpose in speaking German seems to be that he wants to express his hatred for German doctors by reminding Dr. Naehring of the experiments done by the Nazis. Teddy is angry that a Nazi doctor was allowed to emigrate to America after the war. The Nazi doctors did experiments on the concentration camp prisoners and some of the doctors were brought to America to continue their experiments.  In another scene, Teddy Daniels says that Nazis provoke him.

There are several flashbacks of Dachau, lasting about 10 seconds each, before the main flashback, which shows the murder of the guards.  The first flashback is triggered when Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck are listening to some German music.  Chuck asks Teddy: “Brahms?”  and there is a ten second pause during which we see the bodies of a couple of dead children at Dachau, before Teddy answers, “No, Mahler.”

Just the thought of anything German triggers mental pictures of Dachau in the mind of Teddy Daniels.  Lucky for him, they weren’t listening to Wagner, or he might have had a hemorrhage and dropped dead on the spot, ending the movie right there.

If there were any dead children at Dachau when the American liberators arrived, no one took a photo of them. The dead children that Teddy Daniels sees are his own children, but we don’t know this at this point.

Another flashback shows concentration camp prisoners, wearing striped uniforms, standing with their hands touching the barbed wire at Dachau.  The electricity was off in the camp because  Dachau had been hit by an American bomb on April 9, 1945, but a generator was still maintaining the electricity in the barbed wire, and a few prisoners died when they ran to the wire and touched it as soon as they saw the American liberators.  The photo below was taken after the electricity was turned off.

Real life photo of Dachau prisoners touching the barbed wire

Very early in the movie, Teddy Daniels mentions that the barbed wire around the mental hospital grounds on Shutter Island is electrified; he explains that he knows this because of some past experience he has had with electrified barbed wire. This is the first reference to his participation in the liberation of Dachau.

Then there is a brief flashback which shows a German officer lying on the floor with his face bleeding, as Teddy Daniels looks at him with an expression of extreme hatred on his face.  It appears that Teddy has shot the German officer. We know that the officer is lying on the floor of an office room at Dachau because we have seen earlier flashbacks of papers flying all over the office as American soldiers go through the camp records.  Yeah right, like the American liberators bothered to look at the records at the camp before shooting the guards who had surrendered!

In real life, the American liberators confiscated the records at Dachau, then put up a sign at the crematorium which said that 238,000 prisoners had been burned in the ovens at Dachau.  It was not until many years later that the American military turned the Dachau records over to the Red Cross.  The total number of prisoners registered at Dachau during the 12 years that the camp was in existence was 206,206.  In addition, there were around 7,000 prisoners, who arrived in the last couple of days before the camp was liberated, that were never counted.

In another flashback, we learn that the wounded German officer, that Teddy saw, was the Commandant of Dachau and that he had tried to kill himself shortly before the American liberators arrived.  This didn’t happen in the real life story of Dachau.

The last Commandant of Dachau, Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, allegedly killed himself a few days after the camp was liberated. He had escorted a group of prisoners to a sub-camp in Austria, and then allegedly shot himself when American troops arrived.  I don’t buy the story of his suicide.  I think he was killed for the same reason that Heinrich Himmler was killed by the British after he was captured.  The Allies didn’t want to put any Germans on trial who might tell the truth about what had really happened.

After Weiter had conveniently committed suicide, the previous Commandant of Dachau, Martin Gottfried Weiss, was put on trial by an American Military Tribunal, although there were no specific charges against him and several prisoners testified in his defense.  He was convicted and hanged; his crime was that he was the Commandant of Dachau.

The main Dachau massacre flashback shows the American liberators entering the Dachau concentration camp through a gate with a large sign that reads “Arbeit macht Frei.”  I guess someone told Martin Scorsese: “You gotta show the Arbeit macht Frei sign because that is the universal symbol of the Holocaust, known by everyone in the civilized world.”

Unfortunately, the scene does not show anything resembling the real Dachau gate house; the sign is just hanging there, like at the Auschwitz main camp.  In the movie, the buildings inside the Dachau camp are brick; the whole scene looks like Auschwitz, not Dachau.

Real life Arbeit macht Frei sign on Dachau gate

In real life, the first shots of the Dachau massacre did not take place inside the Dachau concentration camp, but in the SS garrison that was next door to the camp.  The first SS soldiers were shot before the Americans even saw the dead bodies in the camp, and before they saw the gas chamber. It was the sight of the bodies on the “death train” that caused the American soldiers to lose all control and murder the guards. In the movie, the guards are killed before the Americans see the “death train.”

Dead bodies piled up at Dachau crematorium

The photo above, taken in May 1945, shows the bodies of Dachau prisoners who died of typhus AFTER the camp was liberated. There were up to 400 prisoners dying each day in the typhus epidemic; the photo shows some prisoners still wearing their striped uniforms, which indicates that they died after the camp was liberated.

Railroad gate and tracks at Dachau

The soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division of the US Seventh Army actually entered the Dachau SS garrison through the railroad gate, into the SS garrison, which was open because the “death train” was part way inside the garrison.  My photo above, taken in 2001, shows the location of the railroad gate and a short section of the tracks, which have been preserved as a memorial to the prisoners.

Real life execution of German soldiers at Dachau

The photo above shows the execution scene inside the SS garrison at Dachau.  Note the hospital in the background on the right. There were other executions of German soldiers in various locations inside the Dachau camp.

In the flashback scenes, there is great emphasis placed on the snow at Dachau.  The ground is covered with snow and the bodies are frozen and encased in ice.  The most visible bodies are a woman and a young girl. None of the photos taken at the liberation of Dachau show dead bodies of women or children.

There had been some snow flurries at Dachau, but it was not snowing on April 29, 1945, the day that Dachau was liberated. It did snow on May 1, 1945 at Dachau. The snow seems to be symbolic because it matches the ashes that fall in other flashback scenes.

The actual shooting of the guards at Dachau was so short that it was impossible for me to identify the uniforms that they were wearing.  The German guards were lined up against a barbed wire fence and shot by a number of American soldiers who were firing rifles.  The first shot was fired at a guard who was trying to run away.  The excuse that the  real life American liberators gave for shooting Prisoners of War at Dachau was that “they were trying to get away.”

In real life, the regular guards at Dachau had fled the night before the liberation of the camp, and there were 128 SS soldiers in prison at Dachau who were released and forced to guard the camp until the Americans arrived.

The general impression that most people have is that the SS men, who guarded the concentration camps, were allowed to abuse or murder the prisoners any time they felt like it. Actually, any SS man who did something like that was put into a wing of the camp prison at Dachau that was reserved for the SS. There had been 128 SS men in the prison the day before Dachau was liberated. That part of the prison at Dachau has long since been torn down and the tour guides tell visitors that the inmates were beaten for something as minor as having a button missing on their uniform.

The surrender of the Dachau camp is not shown in the movie, and viewers are led to believe that the SS men at Dachau had to be shot by the American liberators because they were defending the camp.

The German soldiers, who were murdered at Dachau, included Wehrmacht soldiers in the regular army, as well as Waffen-SS soldiers who were sent from the battlefield to surrender the camp to the Americans. The Wehrmacht soldiers were dragged out of a military hospital and shot by the American liberators.

In one scene in the movie, Teddy Daniels says that after seeing Dachau, he knew what men are capable of doing to other men.  This trite expression is repeated by every tourist who gets anywhere near Dachau; it makes me want to scream every time I read it or hear it.  But in the movie, it has some significance, as viewers will learn at the end of the movie.

Leonardo DiCaprio should win an academy award for best actor for his performance in this movie.  The movie is good, but not that good; it is too contrived.

February 10, 2010

Shutter Island scene shows Dachau massacre

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 3:36 am

The movie Shutter Island, based on a 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane, opened in American theaters on February 19, 2010. The Dachau massacre scene was completely changed and some of the photos on this page, which I began writing on Feb. 10th, no longer show what is in the movie.

The movie plot centers around Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who is investigating the disappearance of a woman patient in the Ashecliffe mental hospital on Boston’s Shutter Island.

In Lehane’s novel, there is a one paragraph flashback scene which briefly describes the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. Lehane wrote that “500 Krauts” (German soldiers) were killed by the American liberators.

The photo below shows a scene which was cut from the movie; this scene depicts American soldiers entering Dachau on April 29, 1945. The gate vaguely resembles one of the real gates into the Army garrison next door to the Dachau concentration camp, which is shown in the second photo below. In real life, the American soldiers entered through a different gate.

American soldiers entering fictitious  gate at Dachau

One of the real gates at Dachau

When the American soldiers arrived, they were horrified by the sight of the “death train” that was parked on the railroad tracks outside the Dachau camp.

The train had left the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 7, 1945 and had not reached Dachau until April 28, 1945 because American bombs had destroyed the railroad tracks on the 220 mile route from Buchenwald to Dachau.

Some of the prisoners, riding in open gondola cars on the train, had been killed by American bullets as U.S. planes strafed the train.

Prisoners had been killed by American bullets

In 1954, at the time that the story in the movie is taking place, the shooting of unarmed German soldiers at Dachau was still a closely guarded secret, which would not become known for another 31 years. One of the first newspapers to publish the story of the Dachau massacre was the Boston Globe.

The main character in the movie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, lives in Boston; he was involved in the “Dachau massacre,” that is shown in the flashback in the movie.

Movie scene shows corpses piled up at the “death train”

The photo above shows a scene from the movie Shutter Island which depicts the corpses found on the 39 cars of the “death train” at Dachau. In the movie, there is only one railroad car. This fictitious scene resembles the real photos of the train, combined with real photos of the pile of corpses found outside the crematorium at Dachau.

Note what appears to be barbed wire in the photo, which indicates that the train in the movie was parked inside the Dachau concentration camp enclosure; the real-life “death train” was partly inside, and partly outside, the SS garrison, which was next door to the concentration camp.

The "death train" parked at the Dachau concentration camp

The “death train” parked at the Dachau concentration camp

Bodies piled up outside the crematorium at Dachau, April 1945

Bodies piled up outside the crematorium at Dachau, after the camp was liberated in April 1945

The regular guards at Dachau had all fled from the camp the night before the Americans arrived and there was no one to take care of the dead bodies. There was a typhus epidemic in the Dachau camp and 400 prisoners were dying each day from the disease.

The body of a prisoner beside the “death train”

There were no naked corpses piled up outside the “death train.”  There were only a few bodies on the ground beside the train, as shown in the photo above.

The horrible scene of the “death train” was what prompted American soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division to kill Hungarian Waffen-SS soldiers who had been sent directly from the battlefield, wearing their camouflage uniforms, to surrender the Dachau camp.

Dead Waffen-SS soldier who was sent to surrender Dachau

This scene, which shows German SS soldiers at Dachau, was cut from the movie

Waffen-SS soldier killed by the American liberators at Dachau

Movie extras who played German soldiers

The 45th Thunderbird Division soldiers, who executed the “500 Krauts,” had come upon the abandoned train of 39 railroad cars just before they entered the SS training camp through the railroad gate on the west side of the Dachau SS complex.

German soldiers being executed at Dachau

When the photo above was published, the caption read as follows:

“SC 208765. Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Div., U.S. Seventh Army, order SS men to come forward after one of their number tried to escape from the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp after it was liberated by U.S. forces. Men on the ground in background feign death by falling as the guards fired a volley at the fleeing SS men. 157th Reg. 4/29/45.”

This caption is a total lie.  The soldiers were not trying to escape; they remained standing with their hands in the air until Lt. Col. Felix Sparks ordered the execution to stop. Some of them were wounded Wehrmacht soldiers who had been dragged out of an Army hospital at the Dachau garrison.

Note real life Dachau survivor wearing a warm jacket

Prisoner in movie wearing an identical warm jacket; this actor’s scene was cut from the movie

German guards at Dachau were killed by the prisoners

The American liberators allowed the prisoners to kill the guards and mutilate the bodies. Note the German guard in the photo above with his pants pulled down.

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

The photo above shows 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrendering the Dachau camp to Brig. Gen. Henning Linden of the 42nd Rainbow Division while Red Cross representative Victor Maurer holds a white flag of surrender.

Note that Wicker’s face is scarred; after he was wounded in battle on the Eastern front, Wicker was transferred to Dachau to work as a guard.  Wicker was killed, but no one knows whether he was killed by the liberated prisoners or executed by the American soldiers.  His family was never notified of his death.

2nd Lt. Wicker had been persuaded by Victor Maurer to stay behind when the other guards left the camp.  He had been away from the camp and had only recently arrived, leading a group of prisoners from one of the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp.