Race towards Life: The liberation of Dachau, April 29, 1945

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Imagery and a narrative of the liberation of the 33,000 prisoners of Concentration Camp Dachau in 1945 by Soldiers of the U.S. Army's 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions.

Imagery and a narrative of the liberation of the 33,000 prisoners of Concentration Camp Dachau in 1945 by Soldiers of the U.S. Army's 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions.

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  • My father served in the Rainbow Division during WWII. I just emailed him a copy of this presentation. He is in a photo (#10 I believe), in the middle of the group in back of the jeep. I recognized the photo - I have a copy. My brother and I have been asking my dad so many questions about his service, and this is really a great overview for us. Thank you! My dad has talked about the railcars at Dachau. He has also cited Gen. Eisenhower's wisdom in requiring the local citizens to come to the concentration camp to bear witness to what horrors had occurred there.
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  • Introduction – ties to Holocaust Remembrance The 42 nd Through Europe Dachau Liberation Hour of the Avenger Aftermath
  • Reborn on July 14, 1943, the Rainbow Division readies for WWII. From his HQ in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur sent his remarks…. “ It seems to be a happy augury that the date July 14 th , which marked the shattering of the last great offensive of the German army in the World War, has been selected to bring again into being a division so prominent on that occasion and so unique in its concept and proud of its accomplishments. We of the old 42 nd place our pride in your hands.” “ It was with you I lived my greatest moments. It is of you I have my fondest memories.” More than a year of training and the creation of two divisions as Soldiers are shipped off to Europe in anticipation of the D-Day invasion in the spring of 1944 and the Rainbow repeats a 26 week training cycle for deployment. Task Force Linden, the three infantry regiments, stem Operation Nordwind in the winter of 1945.
  • Dachau is a name that will be forever associated with Nazi atrocities and Crimes against Humanity. Opened on March 22, 1933 in a former World War I gunpowder factory, just outside the 1200-year-old Bavarian town of Dachau, the Dachau concentration camp was one of the first installations in the Third Reich's vast network of concentration camps and forced labor camps throughout Germany and the Nazi occupied countries. Used primarily to incarcerate Communists, Social Democrats, trade union leaders, spies, resistance fighters, religious dissidents, common criminals, Gypsy men, homosexuals, asocials and others who were considered "enemies of the state," Dachau was also the place where many high-level political opponents of the Nazi government were held. Just before the camp was liberated, there were 137 VIP prisoners at Dachau, including the former Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg, and the former Jewish premier of France, Leon Blum. They were evacuated from the camp on April 26th, shortly before soldiers of the American Seventh Army arrived to liberate the camp on April 29, 1945.
  • SS authorities report that the number of prisoners in Dachau exceeds 55,000, including more than 2,000 women. During the war, forced labor using concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in German armaments production. As a result, the Dachau camp system expanded to include more than 30 large subcamps concentrated mainly around armaments industries in southern Germany and northern Austria. Ghettos were used primarily from 1939 through 1942. Crystallnacht in Nov 1938 marks the turning point towards outward violence from the Nazi regime. The movement began in 1940 with forced deportation. Forced resettlement into concentration camps led to genocide. The first extermination of Jews began on Dec 8 th , 1941. The Nazis made a decision that the annihilation of the Jews of Europe was a more important achievement than the value of their labor On January 20, 1942 in Wannsee, a Berlin suburb, the details of the "Final Solution" were worked out. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, who was the head of the S.S. main office and S.S. Chief Heinrich Himmler's top aide. The purpose of the meeting was to coordinate the Nazi bureaucracy required to carry out the "Final Solution," which provided for: Deportation of Jews to killing centers. Immediate death for those who were unable to work or the very young, the old, and the weak. Segregation by gender of the remaining Jews. Decimation through forced labor with insufficient nourishment. Eventual death for the remnant.
  • A chart of prisoner markings used in German concentration camps. The top row of triangles shows all the colors of the badges worn by the prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps. Red was for Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and other "enemies of the state"; green was for German criminals; blue was for foreign forced laborers; brown was for Gypsies; pink was for homosexuals; purple was for Jehovah's Witnesses and black was for asocials, a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn't have a permanent address. The "work-shy," or those who were arrested because they refused to work, wore a black badge. The horizontal categories list markings for the following types of prisoners: political, professional criminal, emigrant, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexual, Germans shy of work, and other nationalities shy of work. The vertical categories begin with the basic colors, and then show those for repeat offenders, prisoners in punishment kommandos, Jews, Jews who have violated racial laws by having sexual relations with Aryans, and Aryans who violated racial laws by having sexual relations with Jews. The remaining symbols give examples of marking patterns.
  • Dr. Victor Maurer, a Red Cross representative from Switzerland, arrived at the Dachau prison compound on April 28, 1945, the day before the liberation and the day that Commandant Martin Gottfried Weiss fled the camp in fear for his life. Maurer tried to persuade Lt. Otto, whom Weiss had left in charge, to leave guards in the towers in order to secure the camp until the Americans arrived, but most of the regular guards left along with the Commandant. Finally Maurer convinced SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker not to abandon the camp, but to leave guards posted in the towers to keep order until the prisoners could be turned over to armed American soldiers. Maurer knew that there were many common criminals, including convicted murderers, who had been imprisoned at Dachau. He was fearful that an estimated 32,000 vengeful Dachau inmates would be released to wreak havoc in the surrounding area which was still a battle zone.
  • On April 26, 1945, as American forces approached, there were 67,665 registered prisoners in Dachau and its subcamps. Of these, 43,350 were categorized as political prisoners, while 22,100 were Jews, with the remainder falling into various other categories. Starting that day, the Germans forced more than 7,000 prisoners, mostly Jews, on a death march from Dachau to Tegernsee far to the south. During the death march, the Germans shot anyone who could no longer continue; many also died of hunger, cold, or exhaustion That day Soldiers of the 42 nd Division crossed the Leche River. In order to speed the corps advance towards Munich, the 20 th Armored Division was ordered to pass through the 42 nd and lead the attack on the 28 th . Due to a large number of blown bridges and cratered roads, two regiments of the Rainbow kept up the advance, the 242 nd in the south and the 222 nd in the North. At 0500 on the 29 th , the 222 nd organized as a combat team with the 2-222 nd a motorized battalion, drove ahead of the armor towards Munich. Their path led straight into Dachau. First and 3 rd Battalions followed to mop up.
  • Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 222 nd Infantry Regiment, 42 nd Infantry Division, the morning of April 29, 1945. Back row, far right behind the jeep is Richard Marowitz.
  • There were three sites at Dachau. But maps, if American Soldiers had maps at all, depicted just the village of Dachau. Senior military leaders knew of the political prisoners interred at Dachau. The average GI knew little, if any about Hitler’s Final Solution or Concentration Camps. They understand that Nazism had imprisoned thousands for slave labor, but little else. As we approached, there was a very distinctive smell. We knew it fairly well, the stench of death. But when you are in combat, you see dead animals all the time. We just told ourselves, it was dead farm animals. Animals. -- Description of the approach to Dachau by Richard Marowitz, Recon Platoon, 222 nd Infantry Regiment, 42 nd ID
  • According to 1st Lt. William Cowling, who was with Brig. Gen. Linden, 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."
  • The photo below shows a group of 42nd Division soldiers who accompanied Brig. Gen. Henning Linden to the Dachau camp on April 29, 1945, the day of the liberation. From left to right, they are T/5 G.N. Oddi, T/5 J.G. Bauerlein, Pfc. C.E. Tinkham, Pfc. Stout, and Pfc. W.P. Donahue. BG Henning Linden understand the importance of the Concentration Camp, even if most of the Rainbow Soldiers did not know of its existance. Traveling with Linden were reporters from Stars & Stripes and the NY Daily Herald Tribune.
  • Image taken across the canal that separates the Concentration Camp from the SS Barracks. A guard tower is visible along the canal. While most of the SS Guards had abandoned their posts in the days leading up to April 29 th , a small group of SS personnel arrived at the site and maintained security of the camp.
  • Heinrich Himmler, SS leader and chief of the Munich police, announces the opening of the Dachau concentration camp. The camp is located about 10 miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany. Dachau is one of the first concentration camps the Nazis establish. The first prisoners arrive two days later. They are mainly Communists and Socialists and other political opponents of the Nazi party. Dachau is the only camp to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945.
  • 1st Lt. William Cowling continues to describe the events: “ 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.”
  • The Dachau death train consisted of nearly forty railcars containing the bodies of between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners who were evacuated from Buchenwald on April 7, 1945. The train arrived in Dachau on the afternoon of April 28.
  • “ In those stinking cars I saw the bodies of these prisoners too weak even to get out. A few tried, and they made a bloody heap in the door of one of the cars. They had been machine-gunned by the SS. A little girl was in that car.” Tech. Sgt. James Creasman
  • “ Apparently, these people had been dead but a short time. There was no foul odor, just death – fresh death – everywhere.” LTC Walter Fellenz, Cdr, 1 st Bn, 222 nd IN
  • "Dachau, 1933-1945, will stand for all time as one of history's most gruesome symbols of inhumanity. There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind. Dachau and death were synonymous." Col. William W. Quinn, 7th U.S. ARMY
  • LTC Donald Downard and an unidentified CPT from a Tank Destroyer help recover the only survivor among the Death Train rail cars, a Polish Jew.
  • American soldiers remove one of the few survivors from the Dachau death train. Pictured carrying the survivor is T/4 Sgt. Tony Cardinale, Recon Platoon, 222 nd Infantry Regiment and Lieutenant Gerald C. Caskey can be seen speaking to the armed man on the right.
  • Just west of the concentration camp at Dachau, a large SS army garrison was also set up on the grounds of the former gunpowder factory. This facility, which was four or five times the size of the Dachau prison camp, included an officers' training school where German SS soldiers were educated to be administrators. It was here that the Nazi mass-murderers learned their craft, including the notorious Adolf Eichmann, head of the Race and Resettlement office, and Rudolf Höss, the infamous Commandant of Auschwitz, who confessed that 2.5 million Jews had been gassed while he was in charge there.
  • Cowling's letter continues: “ 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.”
  • Pictured from left to right are: an aide to SS Lt. Wicker, who surrendered the camp; Lt. Wicker (partially hidden by his aide); Paul M.G. Levy, a Belgian journalist attached to SHAEF, who is serving as an interpreter; Dr. Victor Maurer (back to the camera), the delegate of the International Red Cross, who arranged the terms of the surrender; General Henning Linden; Linden's bodyguards. Mauer is holding a makeshift flag of surrender constructed from a broomstick; In his report to Headquarters, written on 2 May 1945, Brig. Gen Linden 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 Wicker] 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....
  • The photograph above shows the surrender of the Dachau prison compound by 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker to Brigadier General Henning Linden, Assistant Division Commander of the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division of the US Seventh Army on April 29, 1945. Wicker is the second man from the right, wearing a cap; the man on the far right is his aide. Brig. Gen. Linden is the second man from the left, wearing netting on his helmet; he is standing with his hand on his hip. The arrow points to Marguerite Higgins, a newspaper war correspondent, who is wearing a jacket with a hood. Victor Maurer, a Red Cross representative who accompanied 2nd Lt. Wicker, carrying a white flag, is hidden behind one of the American soldiers in the photo. In the background, one can see the buildings in the SS Training Camp which was right next to the Dachau prison compound. This picture was taken near the southwest corner of the SS camp. The prison compound was east of this location, through the main entrance and then through the gatehouse with a sign that read "Arbeit Macht Frei."
  • The slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" was allegedly coined by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels in an effort to convince the public that the Nazi concentration camps were merely work camps designed to politically rehabilitate Communists, Social Democrats and anarchists.
  • 1500 Sunday, April 29th
  • "Up until April 29, 1945, the majority of us in my unit were not aware of the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews - certainly not its scope, nor its effect on the world; and certainly none of us were aware of the Dachau Concentration Camp. We had been briefed Stateside on the unjust imprisonment of large numbers of people by the Germans, and their being forced into a kind of slavery. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to unfold in that small dorf north and west of Munich in Bavarian Germany." Lt. Jack E. Westbrook, Anti-Tank Company, 222nd Regiment, 42nd Division of the US Seventh Army.
  • The photograph shows Victor Maurer wearing a white arm band and standing next to 2nd Lt. Wicker, after they complied with Brig. Gen. Linden's request for a photo opportunity beside the "Death Train." Wicker claimed to have no knowledge of the train, according to Brig Gen. Linden's account of the surrender. If not for 2nd Lt. Wicker's heroic act in accepting responsibility for surrendering the Dachau camp to the American Army, the liberation of Dachau could have been even more of a bloody disaster than it was. The Commandant and his men had abandoned the camp the day before and if Wicker had not posted guards to keep the prisoners inside until the Americans arrived to take charge, there might have been even more carnage with the prisoners roaming the countryside and taking revenge on innocent German citizens.
  • In the photograph above, notice a man on the extreme left wearing a striped prison uniform, and four US soldiers in the background. The liberated prisoners were allowed to participate in the killing of the SS men. The dead man has his hands clasped together, as though he were holding something just before he died. After the liberation of Dachau, Lt. Col. Joseph M. Whitaker of the Office of the Inspector General of the Headquarters of the Seventh Army conducted an investigation of the slaughter of the German soldiers who had surrendered. He filed a SECRET report on 8 June 1945, which has since been made public and is included in the Appendix of a book written by Col. John H. Linden, the son of Brig. Gen. Henning Linden who accepted the surrender of the camp. The following quotations are from Whitaker's report: “ We were approached by many of the prisoners who begged us for guns so that they could kill some of the remaining guards. Many of us carried extra weapons and gave them out. Unfortunately, those guards upon whom they exacted vengeance were not the officers or other big-shots because the most notorious of the SS criminals had already melted way.”
  • “ When Infantrymen of the Rainbow fought their way into Dachau, against fanatical SS Troops who met deserved violent deaths along the moats, behind the high fences, and the rail yards littered with the bodies of fifty carloads of starved victims, these hardened soldiers expected to see horrible sights. But no human imagination fed with fantastic tales that have leaked out from this earliest and most notorious of all Nazi Concentration camps, could have been preparation for what they did see there...." T-3 James Creasman, HQ Company, 42nd Infantry Division, 1 May 1945 Over 4000 inmates had been buried near the water reservoir, causing typhus to be rampant throughout the camp. There were over 4000 bodies, men, women and children in a warehouse in the crematorium. There were over 1000 dead bodies in the barracks within the enclosure. LTC Walter Fellenz, Cdr, 1-222 Infantry
  • In 1942, the crematorium area was constructed next to the main camp. It included the old crematorium and the new crematorium (Barrack X) with a gas chamber. There is no credible evidence that the gas chamber in Barrack X was used to murder human beings. Instead, prisoners underwent "selection"; those who were judged too sick or weak to continue working were sent to the Hartheim "euthanasia" killing center near Linz, Austria. Several thousand Dachau prisoners were murdered at Hartheim. Further, the SS used the firing range and the gallows in the crematoria area as killing sites for prisoners. The ash would fertilize the gardens of the camp and the SS Barracks.
  • "We next approached a large building, outside of which were racks of the striped pajama-like prisoners' uniforms. All were methodically sorted, jackets and pants, and hung apparently for future use. Nearby was a huge mound of this clothing that hadn't been sorted. When we entered this empty building, it appeared to be a large shower room with the usual fixtures near the ceiling. It came as a shock when our guide explained that these fixtures were gas jets by which countless men, women and children met their deaths in the Nazi extermination program." Written by Don Rodda, 3rd Infantry Division, who was brought to Dachau on May 1, 1945 to see the atrocities in the camp, on the orders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower Upon orders of the SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (SS-Economic-Administrative Main Office) in Berlin a gas chamber was installed. This gas chamber, camouflaged as a shower room, was not used. The prisoners selected for 'gassing' were transported from Dachau to the Hartheim Castle , near Linz (Austria) or to other camps. In Hartheim alone 3166 prisoners were gassed between January 1942 and November 1944."
  • Approximately 150 Dachau inmates were forced to participate in medical experiments conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher for the German Air Force, and about half of them died as a result. The subjects for these experiments were German criminals who had been condemned to death by German courts and Russian POWs who were Communist Commissars, sentenced to be executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler. Prof. Dr. Klaus Schilling, a renowned expert on malaria, was persuaded to come out of retirement in order to conduct medical experiments on approximately 1,200 Dachau prisoners in an attempt to find a cure for malaria after German troops began fighting the Allies in North Africa. Hundreds died as a result of Dr. Schilling's experiments, including a few who died from malaria and others who died from other diseases after being weakened by malaria. The subjects for the malaria experiments were the Catholic priests in the camp because they were not required to work, and would not be missed in the labor force if they died.
  • When an advance party from the 42nd Division arrived in a jeep on the street that borders the south side of the SS complex, they saw Maurer and Wicker waiting to surrender the camp under a white flag of truce. At the same time, I Company of the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division was arriving at the railroad gate into the SS camp, on the west side of the complex, almost a mile from the main entrance. After German Waffen-SS soldiers who had surrendered to I Company were gunned down in the coal yard of the SS camp, Lt. William Walsh led his men toward the prison enclosure east of the SS camp. There they met some of the soldiers of the 42nd Division along the barbed wire fence on the west side of the camp. 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.
  • On April 29, 1945 members of the 1st Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry, under the command of Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, entered Dachau. There they discovered a train of 36 boxcars bearing the corpses of prisoners who had been transferred to Dachau from other camps in the last weeks of the war. As the soldiers advanced, they found stacks of bodies in other parts of the camp and thousands of emaciated survivors. They rounded-up the remaining camp guards as they found them. At some point, it was reported, one of the GIs blurted out, "No prisoners!" Approximately 60 guards were then lined up against a wall and gunned down by members of the 1st Company. Others were shot in one of the boxcars or beaten to death outside with the participation of a few survivors. Pfc. John Lee and others from the unit were later summoned by military investigators to give testimony about the killings and to supply photographs. A report was written and submitted to General George Patton, commander of the 3rd Army, who chose not to take any action. The report, a copy of which was deposited in the National Archives, remained secret until 1991, when it was quietly declassified.
  • This photo shows: Two soldiers of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division, Seventh U.S. Army, assisted by a liberated political prisoner pull the body of a dead Nazi SS guard from the moat surrounding the camp. Other liberated prisoners in the background watch from behind the former electrified fence. Some SS guards were killed and thrown into the moat by the liberated prisoners, others by American soldiers. Prisoners in the camp were given guns by some of the liberators and were allowed to shoot or beat to death 40 of the German guards while American soldiers looked on. The German Sheppard guard dogs were shot in their kennels. The bodies of the dead SS soldiers were later buried in unmarked graves inside the garrison, after their dog tags had been removed, and their families were not notified of their deaths.
  • 26-year-old Cpl. Morris Eisenstein, a Polish Jew from Chicago serving with the 42 nd Division, offered one of the prisoners 15,000 marks that he had taken from the bodies of SS soldiers killed in combat just the night before. The prisoner refused the money because he had nothing to give him in return. Eisenstein told the prisoner that he would take the yellow Star of David pinned to his clothing in exchange.
  • “ Dachau is no longer a name of terror for hunted men.” 32,000 of them have been freed by the 42 nd Rainbow Division. The crimes done behind the walls of the worst of Nazi concentration camps now live to only haunt the memories of the Rainbowmen who tore open its gates and first saw its misery, and to accuse its SS keepers of one of the worst crimes in all history.” Technician Sgt. James Creasman
  • There were more than 200,000 registered prisoners during the history of the camp. Of these, more than 30,000 died. Because thousands more prisoners arrived and died in the camp without being registered, the total number of victims remains unknown.
  • Due to horrific overcrowding and the spread of contagious diseases brought from what is now Poland by new arrivals who had been evacuated from the death camps, the number of recorded deaths at Dachau in the last four chaotic months of the war jumped to 13,158. After the camp was liberated by the US Seventh Army on April 29, 1945, an additional 2,226 prisoners died from disease in the month of May and 196 more died in June. The total number of deaths in the first five months of 1945 was almost half the total deaths in the 12-year history of the camp. The death rate in the other Nazi concentration camps also rose dramatically in the last months of the war, as the typhus epidemic spread throughout Germany. American POWs in German camps were saved from the epidemic by typhus vaccine sent to them from America by the International Red Cross.
  • Dr. Klaus Karl Schilling, a physician who infected over one thousand prisoners with malaria in his experiments at the Dachau camp, defends himself at the trial of former camp personnel and prisoners from Dachau. In his appeal in English after cross examination, Schilling explained, "I have worked out this great labor. It would be really a terrible loss if I could not finish this work. I don't ask you as a court, I ask you personally to do what you can; to do what you can to help me that I may finish this report. I need only a table and a chair and a typewriter. It would be an enormous help for science, for my colleagues, and a good part to rehabilitate myself." His voice then broke and he cried. On November 2, 1945 in Dachau, Germany, forty individuals who had participated in the operation of the Dachau concentration camp were charged with the murder and mistreatment of foreign nationals imprisoned there. Among those charged were Martin Gottfried Weiss, the camp commandant from 1942-1943; Dr. Klaus Karl Schilling, an SS physician who was brought to Dachau to find a method of immunizing people against malaria; and three former prisoners. The trial lasted from November 15 to December 13, 1945, with seventy witnesses called for the prosecution and fifty witnesses called for the defense. All forty defendants were found guilty, with thirty-six being sentenced to death by hanging (including Weiss and Schilling), one sentenced to hard labor for life, and three sentenced to hard labor for ten years. A few of the sentences were reduced after a review board determined the defendants were involved to a lesser degree than originally believed, but most were upheld. Those sentenced to death were hanged on May 28-29, 1946 at Dachau.
  • “ These tortured dead can only be avenged when our world is aroused so much by what the 42 nd uncovered at Dachau and by what others have found at all the other Dachaus scattered throughout Germany, that never again will any party, any government, any people be allowed to mar the face of the earth with such inhumanity.” Tech Sgt. James Creasman Never Forget!


  • 1. Race Towards Life: The 42 nd Infantry Division Liberation of Dachau April 29 th , 1945
  • 2.  
  • 3. Rainbow March Across Europe
    • Winter-Spring, 1945
    • Rainbow Infantry Regiments defeat the final German Counter-offensive in January, Operation Nordwind, the “Southern Battle of the Bulge”
    • Division reenters the line on February 14 th , 1945
    • Across the Rhine and capture of Wurzburg, Schweinfurt & Nurnburg
    • A race towards Munich
  • 4. Through Hagenau and Hatten
  • 5.  
  • 6. The Final Solution
  • 7.  
  • 8. "Rheinhardt has died tonight. I wanted to see him again, greet him one last time, and so I went looking for him, as he lay on the road in front of the death chamber - amongst the other one hundred and fifty dead of last night. He was barely recognizable; his face was swollen and contorted in desperation. His death is not only for us, his friends, a very hard blow and painful loss, […] And perhaps the worst thing in the face of this death, the death of all our friends, is: we do not even have the time … to mourn them" Nico Rost: Goethe in Dachau
  • 9. Race to Dachau
    • “ Three Dachaus,” one the city, another an SS barracks and the Concentration Camp
    • Few US Soldiers aware of what is in store
    • The 42 nd Infantry, 45 th Infantry and 20 th Armored Divisions head towards Dachau
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. Approaching the Death Camp
  • 13. BG Linden’s Security Detail
  • 14. Concentration Camp at Dachau 157 th Inf Regt 222 nd Inf Regt SS Compound Jourhaus Gate Crematorium Concentration Camp
  • 15. The Unexpected Dachau
  • 16.  
  • 17. The Death Train
  • 18.
    • Forty rail cars, estimated with 5,000 Jewish inmates
    • Left Buchenwald on April 7
    • More than 2,000 died enroute
    • Arrived April 28
    • 2,310 more left to die on the cars
  • 19. The Death Train
  • 20. The Death Train
  • 21.  
  • 22. The Death Train
  • 23.
    • "Dachau, 1933-1945, will stand for all time as one of history's most gruesome symbols of inhumanity. There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind.
    • Dachau and death were synonymous."
    • -- Col. William W. Quinn, 7th U.S. ARMY
  • 24. The Death Train Survivor
  • 25. Frei? Frei?
  • 26. SS Barracks Entrance
  • 27. The Jourhaus Gate
  • 28. Surrender of Dachau
  • 29. Surrender of Dachau
  • 30. The Jourhaus Gate
  • 31. The Jourhaus Gate
  • 32. Surrender of Dachau
  • 33. Surrender of Dachau
  • 34. Surrender of Dachau
  • 35.  
  • 36. Liberators
  • 37. Surrender of Dachau
  • 38. Fate of LT Wicker
  • 39. The Camp Crematorium
  • 40.  
  • 41. The Camp Crematorium
    • By early 1945, lack of fuel for the crematorium put them out of use. Bodies were piled nearby in the woodline
  • 42. The Gas Chamber
  • 43. Medical Experiments
  • 44. Hour of the Avenger
  • 45. Hour of the Avenger
  • 46. Hour of the Avenger
  • 47. "The day is over, this April 29, 1945. I will celebrate it for the rest of my life as my second birthday, as the day that gifted me life anew." -- Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz, Dachau Prisoner, S.499
  • 48.  
  • 49.  
  • 50. Aftermath
  • 51. Reckoning
  • 52.