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April 29, 1945: The Liberation of Dachau

On April 29, 1945, James W. Garner from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, stepped through a freshly blasted hole in the wall of Dachau Concentration Camp. Garner, a provost marshal with the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division, emotionally recalled it as, “the most searing moment of my life … you can’t imagine what humans can do to humans,” he said. Dachau was liberated 75 years ago this month when the U.S. Seventh Army’s 45th Infantry Division, the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division, and the 20th Armored Division entered Dachau, rescuing 32,000 prisoners.

Prisoners at Dachau Cheer Approaching American Soldiers

Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp and was established in 1933. Originally built to house a maximum of 10,000 political prisoners, the population of Dachau and its subcamps swelled to more than 60,000 as prisoners from other camps arrived on transports ahead of advancing Allied armies in 1944. Overcrowded conditions, lack of food and sanitation, and executions led to staggering death rates in the camp. Prisoners were subject to horrific torture and laboratory experiments.

As American soldiers neared the camp on April 29th, they came upon 40 railway cars filled with corpses in various stages of decomposition. The Nazi work of unloading the bodies and sending them to the crematory had been interrupted. Just days earlier as Allied soldiers neared, SS guards had received orders to evacuate the camp. Some 7,000 prisoners set out on a forced death march from Dachau to Tegernsee. Guards shot anyone that couldn’t keep up. When American soldiers arrived on April 29th, more than 30,000 prisoners remained in the camp. After passing the railway cars, American soldiers continued toward the gates.          

Bodies in Railway Cars Outside of Dachau

Prisoner Arnold Shay, Dachau No. 135584, remembered seeing Garner appear through the blasted hole in the wall. He and other prisoners assembled in the compound yard waiting in line for their turn at the gas chambers. The arrival of the Americans brought a flood of relief to Shay and other prisoners, ending a nightmare that began when Nazi soldiers burst into his family’s home in the Jewish ghetto. The soldiers beat his father until Shay could, “hear the bones cracking,” and ran forward to help him. He was struck in the head with a rifle rendering him unconscious. When he awoke, he was en route to Dachau. The arrival of American forces meant his nightmare was finally over.

After a brief battle with a few remaining guards, the Americans took control of the camp. Some Nazi guards were rounded up and killed by American forces so infuriated by what they saw.

Dachau Prison Barracks Soon After Liberation

American soldiers began the process of interviewing survivors, caring for the critically ill, and documenting the atrocities in the camp. German soldiers destroyed many of the camp records three weeks before the arrival of the Americans, making an exact accounting difficult.  

An estimated 188,000 prisoners were incarcerated in Dachau between 1933-1945, and approximately 28,000 prisoners died in the camp between 1940-1945. If you would like to learn more about Dachau Concentration Camp, see records from the Dachau Entry Registers, historical records from the U.S. Seventh Army, and an astounding secret diary kept by an inmate at Dachau and later recovered by American soldiers. Search these records and others including our Holocaust Collection on Fold3 today!


  1. Debbie says:

    I would like to read this American solders are brave Thank you for your service

  2. Denis Mitchell says:

    Visited July 2019. Very Emotional.
    Will never forget. The Gas Chamber walls
    still bare the fingernail marks. So very Sad.

  3. Geoff Quesnell says:

    beyond comprehension. Hard to believe that The Almighty would countenance such unspeakable horror.

    • John F Speight says:

      Dear Sir,

      I also share your inability to comprehend what we as humans can and often do to one another. Yet the Almighty God is not responsible for the evil that humans do to another. My Bible tells me that He is a loving God and will “bring to ruin” those who do such as this.They will pay for their crimes. Bless you and may you and your family stay safe during this trying time.


    • Rev.W Lee Truman says:

      It is a matter of free will. We choose how honest, caring, and human we are. Or we can choose to be dishonest, indifferent to others or inhumane.

    • Cynthia Thompson says:

      The Almighty has granted humans free will and does not force us to act kindly. He is just however and I am quite sure the proper punishment was meted out in the afterlife.

  4. Gail Erdman says:

    So interesting!

  5. Michael Fenwick says:

    What is there to say? Thank God for the American soldiers and their compassion.

  6. Denecochea Ruben says:

    My wife and I visited Dachau in 1987. While buying train tickets I was appalled when I was told it’s the Dacau Memorial, and not Dachau concentration camp.
    I was a WWII history buff and had a strong desire to visit one of death camps. Once there, however, I felt we were gawking and being disrespectable – we suddenly had no interest in seeing anything, We felt we were walking on the graves of the prisoners. I just wanted to leave, and my wife agreed. As we left, I said a prayer for all those souls that perished and for the survivors of that hellish concentration camp.

    • Eleanor Armstrong says:

      I understand your feelings. I was at Auschwitz and Birkenau this past summer with my daughter and 3 grandchildren. I became more and more depressed as I witnessed the depravity of what humans can do to each other. I The depression remained with me and as I was flying home from Germany I found my self wondering whenever I met airline personnel if their father, or grandfather was a Nazi and how to deal with the feelings of disgust I feel for Germans since. My Jewish friends have said they learned to ‘let it go’. I’m not there yet and don’t know if I ever will be. I pray for those poor souls whose lives were lost for no other reason but the fact they were Jews. May they R.IP.

    • Mavis eastlick says:

      In 1956 when I was visiting my sister and brother in law who was in the US Air Force in Germany we visited Dachau camp — I was only 16 at the time but I walked through the gas chambers and saw the crematory ovens, even the tiny ones for children. I remember it to this day and I’m 81.
      they took all of that away before the 1977 Olympic games in Germany I guess they didn’t want the rest of the world to see what had happened. So very sad that people could do that to another human

    • John Costa says:

      In the 70’s it was not easy to find. You had to ask and they were not eager to tell. You bought a train ticket, got off in dachau. Took a bus got off near the camp and then walked.
      Horrible feeling , No birds but plenty of pictures showing what the citizens knew.Very sad and errrie.

  7. Deborah Fogg-Moncrieff says:

    First went to Dachau as a 6 year old child about 1963 while stationed in Germany with my dad and still have memories of it, all the buildings were still there, original barbed wire, everything. Went back twice more when I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany 1979 to 1981. When I went with my visiting 16 year old brother there was a tall man sitting behind us with his wife to see once more the places he had been during WW2, he was one of the soldiers who help liberate Dachau and he told us stories of the train and advancing on the camp and what they saw once they went inside it. We were in awe of this man and his memories. May he rest in peace.

  8. William Ware says:

    My wife and I visited Auschwitz-Birkeneau each time we were in Poland. Both times were very emotionally over whelming. We were brought to tears for those that were lost and anger towards those that did these horrible things. My wife’s grandfather was murdered in the Stutthof Concentration Camp near Gdansk, Poland. His ashes became the mortar between the bricks on the paths. She refused to enter the camp for fear of walking on him.

  9. Eleanor Minkwitz says:

    My Father and his two brothers were interned very early. First in Dachau, then transferred to Buchenwald. Ransomed out and released Feb. 14, 1939 before the Final Solution. Over ten years, I retrieved many family holocaust documents. Cannot begin to tell what my father had to say, even as an “early” prisoner.

    We are currently not too much different, with children ripped from their parents’ arms and put into cages. Only difference: we aren’t using crematoria but letting disease and depression shorten their lives. I’m sure more “thorough” methods will be coming soon. MAGA? yeah, right!

    We are a despicable species.

    • Cindy says:

      I don’t believe what illegal immigrants experience is anything like what happened to the Jews who were legal citizens of their own countries. NO ONE is going to kill them.
      They aren’t dying of diseases either – they are treated for their illnesses by Americans. Oh, and the cages, as the media calls them, were Obama’s idea if you know your history. Please don’t spread unfounded rumors as truth. WWII is NOTHING like what you are trying to imply.

    • Jill Bluth says:

      Just as the German citizens of yesteryear should have been cautious about media propaganda, so too should we be wary of the “stories” that media portrays. I have seen too many staged media reports that aim to enrage or incite emotion instead of telling the truth and letting people choose their own response based on their own values to believe the falsehoods.

      Jews, including many of my husband’s ancestors, were legally in their own countries living their best lives when a deranged group defiled them. That is in no way an equal to illegals…some who bring children that are actually kidnapped or taken from their home country without consent so that they get a sympathetic treatment when caught…being detained at a border after crossing illegally.

    • Edward Vercelli says:

      I am truely sorry for what your family went through. It is really “Man’s inhumanity to man” but for you to make statements such as children in cages or it is going to happen here and disparage President Trump for putting “ILLEGAL ALIENS” in detention while they are waiting to be hopefully sent back to where they came from ILLEGALLY is shameful!
      I am a first generation born in this wonderful country. My family came here from Italy at the beginning of the last century. They came through Ellis Island and got jobs. They became Citizens and spoke English. My Grandfather told my father and his other siblings that they live in America now and will only speak English. My father would not teach my brother and myself Italian because we could only speak English.

      They came here LEGALLY and became productive citizens. They did not think they should be able to speak their foreign language. They did not think they should get free healthcare, education, food, housing, welfare or any of the other benefits that the ILLEGALS seem to think they are owed and demand.

      I for one hope all of them are sent back. Break up the gangs full of them and when they get out of jail deport them. How many of these illegals live with you or you are paying for. You listen to that worthless Socialist Cortez and think our leadership is doing wrong in trying to protect the legal American Citizens. The miserable news media showed her looking through a chain link fence by the border making believe she was looking at children in cages but if the camera would have panned over her shoulder, you would have seen the chain link fence was surrounding an empty parking lot.

      I would imagine your family would be ashamed of you knowing you are sticking up for Socialists and Communists. I know, I for one, is ashamed of you.

    • So you were ok with Obama building the cages and using them but want people to think something totally different..sorry you hold so much hate in your ” heart!”. I also visited Dachau when I was 18 years old..there was a carnival outside on the way there. I was so very upset to think that this was even a possibility that it was so close to this place. I still can smell the ovens that were used and until this day I grieve for everyone. My family was originally from Grandmother’s family were Polish Jews..she would sing to us in Yiddish..I have many roots in Germany and the first time I visited the wall was still up and we still couldn’t go to Templin.

    • Tom says:

      That is why we must always be vigilant.
      Racism, hatred, intolerance religous extremism is all around us. It is growing and never takes a break; seemingly led at the highest levels. (MAGA)

    • Richard M Wearing says:

      Dear Eleanor, I am so sorry that your family had to experience so much pain. My heart aches and create an inability to find the right words….. My father was one of the US military servicemen that took part in the demise of many Nazis and helped to free people of these horrible camps. I too feel that the current leadership of the US has re-opened wounds and more important ,established new demons of hate in a country that was once the light to so many. My sincerest respect to you and your family. From an Irishman in Detroit, Michigan.

    • Jack says:

      Oh yes we are a cruel when driven. But to compare those atrocities to what ILLEGAL immigrants are going through is despicable on your part. Illegals have put themselves in their own perdicament at a cost of MILLIONS of dollars to we tax payers….Watch what you say before spewing your lies.

    • chilidog1947 says:

      Eleanor Minkwitz –
      I think you are blaming the wrong people for your loss. Trump had nothing to do with your loss, and he is NOT killing people! Anyone who told you that is a liar. Those people who tell those lies are evil people and they will get their justice! Trump won’t met it out to them, the Almighty God will!!!

    • Howard Lowe says:

      Eleanor … I do nor know what planet you are on; but you do not have a CLUE. Your analysis and comparison of what is occurring on our southern border is INSANE. You hate Trump , and that is the problem. I fought in the ETO in WWII as a Naval Officer. Take another sip of gin and go to sleep. You are NUTS to make such a ridiculous comparison,

    • Delia M Sapiro says:

      Eleanor Minkwitz I don’t feel this is the place to voice your undocumented hatred for our President. This is where we honored those who were taken from their homes and subjected to all kinds of horrific things. If you can compare our Mexican borders to what happened in Germany, I am sorry that you don’t get it. The prisoners in Germany had no choices, unlike those at our borders who came of their free will.

    • Char says:

      MAGA – Yes! It was Obama’s administration that built those cages for the illegal alien children they put in them. Trump inherited the mess, and when he learned what was going on, he brought the end of the cages. The media hates Trump and creates nice lies like this one. Would not want the media’s karma!!! Thank God and Trump for putting a stop in every way they can to evil.

  10. richard keck says:

    My father ran the 55th QM during the war. He has an extensive photo album that covers the 4 plus years he was in. The back few pages are full of pictures of Dachau at 3 days past liberation. They are just unbelievable!

    • Would be good to get those photos to a place where they will preserve the memories, properly attributed as to photographer and dates. I recently did that with 100 B17 crash photos that were taken by a Boeing rep during the war.

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      Richard, We can digitize your album to preserve your photos and return the album to you intact. The photos would be available on Fold3. Please reach out to us at [email protected] if you are interested.

    • Wayne Lewan (Lewandowski) says:

      hi Richard my father zbigniew lewandowski was in muhldorf till may 1945 I am wondering if he was brought back to main camp dachau. My father died young and never sploke about anything. I would like to see some of the photos.

  11. Glen S Witteman says:

    I first visited Dachau as a 13 year old in 1961. My dad was in the US Army. We were stationed in Karlsruhe, West Germany. It was a perfect day for it: Rain and drizzle, clouds low and threatening. My first reaction was that I was stunned. It only got worse as the day progressed. Lots of pictures, toured some barracks, saw where the bodies were cremated. Unless you saw the pictures and heard the personal accounts, the number of dead is incomprehensible. Years later, my wife and I re-visited Dachau and also went to Matthausen in Austria. This should be taught to every school child.

  12. Kathleen Reilly ACKER says:

    My dad was a member of the Rainbow Division that liberated this camp. He never talked much about the war but was so upset when he learned that I visited Dachau as a college student touring Europe. He said he never wanted anyone to see that horror.
    It’s very antiseptic now but the voices still are there, as are the eyes of those who perished there while no one helped them.

    • Jan Cook says:

      It could be considered “antiseptic”—except for the presence of the ovens—& I hope no one is EVER allowed to tear them down. There are still waaay too many who deny this situation ever existed! I only have to think of this to cry. My boss in Germany was with the troops who freed Dachau—he said all you had to do was say the word & he could smell it! Germans (just prior to 1980) still acted like they didn’t know what you were talking about when you asked for its location. Since that time, I’ve heard (& seen documentaries) that this part of history is now taught in German schools & there is supposedly a fantastic memorial (with victim’s names) some place in Frankfurt. I went twice (between ’73 & ’80). Each trip was on a beautiful, clear, sunny day. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was suddenly no sunshine any place. There was total dead silence—not even one bird singing! It was so quiet the sound of footsteps in the gravel was really loud! The 2 times I visited, nothing (including the barracks) was closed. In the museum, wherever there was a picture that included Hitler, someone had dug out his face (the pictures were not behind glass). While it may no longer literally be a “concentration camp”, it is built on the remains of one & still encompasses some of those remains. Those ovens must NEVER EVER be torn down—-as difficult as it is to imagine what happened there! And, yes, it is also a memorial because it is a place to provoke thoughts, memories, & prayers. That is why the small memorial areas are there to allow people the comfort of peace & quiet—to pray & “think on these things”.

  13. Cindy says:

    To politicize concentration camps and try to equate them to anything in America today is to devalue what happened at Dachau and the other camps. I have been there also, and nothing compares today except No. Korea. We need to be praying for the No. Korean, and Chinese, today as they face the same horrors from their own governments. The camps and punishments are inhuman and deplorable. Where are the people to advocate for them? We should all stand up to such injustice.

  14. George T. Goins says:

    The first time I went to Dachau was in 1956 when my Dad was stationed at Hanau. We were accompanied by an American who was part of the liberation force. He just happened to be there the same day as we were and he told us everything that he saw. We could only go through part of the camp, but I will never forget it. The stench was still in the air even though it had been 10 years since liberation. When I was station in Stuttgart in 1978, I took my family to Dachau. At that time it was still partially blocked, mainly the barracks area. That trip made a lasting effect on my children. After Desert Storm, my daughter and her family were in Giessen and we went to visit. We again went to Dachau. At that time we were able to go through the whole camp. The barracks had been rebuilt (not all of them) with taped messages describing the living conditions. There was also the museum that had been built in honor of those who were there. I videoed my trip at that time. When I returned to Oklahoma, there was a Polish Priest who lived in my town who had been incarcerated in Dachau. He wanted to see my video and he watched alone, by his request. I also loaned it to a junior high school whose teachers wanted to show their history classes. Dachau has had a lasting effect on me, my siblings, my children and all who have been there.

  15. Rose K. Nowak says:

    Yes as a species, we continue to do horrible things to our fellow men and women. After viewing documentaries of the holocaust, I cannot understand how we can allow neo nazis and skinheads to still promote their evil practices in this day and age. Can we round them up and place them in cages & drop them in the ocean. Oh I forgot, pollution. Sorry, but history has to be taught so we never forget the atrocities that took place. These are not “very fine people.”

  16. Karen Johnson says:

    Visited Dachau as a child when my father was stationed in Germany. Sadly, I still vividly remember the wreaths on the ovens and the overwhelming sense of sadness.

  17. Christine says:

    My uncle took part in the liberation of the death camp. Before he past he recalled to us his experience. He recalled the smell of decomposing bodies and the piles of human teeth, hair and shoes, clothing, silver spoons and many personal items. He carried the memories of these horrors with him until the day he died.

  18. Some cultures have denied the Holocaust: but, has any news person, ever asked, any denier WHY, they believe that this never happened/existed ? NO ! You can expose stupidity, by asking direct questions, that start with WHY, or WHY NOT !

  19. orlovitz says:

    The camps are one of the purest expressions of “NEVER AGAIN”.

    Its disrespectful and ridiculous to attempt political points and parallels using the camps. Antisemitism is what it is, and has been unmistakable for more than a
    thousand years. Its sponsors/originators/spokesmen have always
    hated Jews, and been transparent enemies of Judaism.

    Read and understand Netanyahu Pere’s book on the origins of antisemitism.

    Murderers and bullies and madmen understand one thing only. So please note that Its a bloody shame that Oppenheimer’s boys were a full year behind schedul.

    • orlovitz says:

      P.S., My father’s large clan disappeared from eastern europe during the Shoa – the only survivors were those who had left much earlier in the century.

  20. My husband and I went to Dachau in 2001. Unfortunately on the day we went there was a group of German students who were touring the camp. They were loud and disrespectful and pretty much ruined the experience for us. We still did feel the terrible weight of sadness that overhangs the camp,though, and the entire experience was so unreal, trying to imagine the horror that those poor inmates were subjected to. We were told that the ovens were never really used there, as they were not finished in time, so I don’t know what is true about the ovens. But overall, it is an experience that anyone visiting that area of Germany should have, just to pay respect to all of those murdered there. It is the least we can do!!!!

  21. Judith says:

    I went to Dachau in the summer of 1959, my senior year in college. I was in Germany to visit my dad, a US Air Force Chaplain stationed in Wiesbaden. As we approached the city, I was taken by the appearance of everything, trees, grass,buildings, people, etc.; everything appeared pale, dull and gray. The camp was even worse. You could actually smell the death it housed. The cells, ovens, open trenches,(where prisoners stood before being shot), to catch blood and bodies, railroad cars that carried crammed prisoners to their hell or transported the bodies out, screamed of the horrors that had taken place. One thing that I saw and have never, ever forgotten was a lamp whose shade was said to have been made from the skin of a tortured, murdered prisoner. I inquired how the residents of that town could have let the horror continue and was told that most claimed not to know anything about the camp or the horrors taking place there. There were no words being spoken by those of us visiting, tears were shed and the realization of man’s unspeakable inhumanity to man was very sadly there for all to see! May the souls of those tortured and killed rest in the peace they never knew. Pray for humanity.

    • John says:

      “One thing that I saw and have never, ever forgotten was a lamp whose shade was said to have been made from the skin of a tortured, murdered prisoner.”

      The human skin lampshade was put on display at Buchenwald and not Dachau. It was a cheap piece of atrocity propaganda. It was not made of human skin but of goat hide. The propaganda effect has endured though, sadly.

  22. Carol Bidwell Walkey says:

    and they’ve stopped teaching history in the schools — and the snowflakes are all for socialism and nasty government. maybe if they read some of THIS history, they might understand.

  23. Tom Helmantoler says:

    I once heard an interview on NPR about 15 years ago with a US Army soldier from WWII that liberated one of the camps. He said he hated being the Army, the cold, the mud, freezing, bad food, etc., because “I never knew what I was fighting for”. He added, “Then I came to this place and now I knew what I was fighting against.” It changed him forever.
    May we NEVER FORGET.

  24. Rand says:

    It would take a psychiatrist to really explore these matters. Hate is so imbued in so many that they don’t even realize it. People who do not stand up for what is right are fine until terrible tragedies happen to them.

  25. Karen says:

    I also had a chance once to visit Dachau when I was about 21. I couldn’t bring myself to go since my father while in the Army had been there. He didn’t tell me much and I don’t know if he was part of the liberation forces, but he told me enough that I did not want to go at all. I am so grateful for our military forces who have done and continue to do so much good through the world. May those , also who perished in those terrible times, be at rest and peace.

  26. Mark Humphrey says:

    I knew three men who were involved in the liberation of Dachau. My uncle, Jack Hand, who was an army medic. Ted Avary, the photographer who took many of the pictures seen in the history books, and Norm Coulombe, a ranger sergeant. A neighbor’s brother who I never met also took part. There have been those who’ve tried to tell me the Holocaust never happened. I know differently.

  27. Ella T Lancaster says:

    I have been to Dachau…..that place left a mark on me that will never go away. Because of it, I’ve never been to the Holocaust Museum, and, I never will….

  28. diane friedman says:

    I was there 35 years ago, before all the memorials, nothing was standing, out in the country, bare ground no memorials, I guess it has all changed now. an awful place, eerie and silent.

  29. Sandy Osborne says:

    I have been to Dachau, a horribly depressing place, but I learned so much from there. I know that from all I have learned that people can be inhumane, intolerant, filled with hate and just downright evil. I will never regret going there. It made me so aware of the situation that happened to so many good people and I don’t think any of us should forget that times like those can always happen again if we don’t love and care for those around us. Hate crimes happen frequently and we should all try to get any hate out of our heart and lives. God bless all who perished in the death camps, and the survivors who have had tremendous memories they would prefer not to endure.

    • char says:

      Unfortunately, most of the news media today are spewing the same type of evil lies and hatred to drum up more hatred for our President Trump. The news media and Hollywood, and most of our Congress are responsible for all they are doing to try to get rid of him. I would not want their karma……There have been many attempts on his life and his wife and family too. The ‘black hats’ have done everything they can think of to keep Trump from doing his job, hoping the stupid public will believe them and vote Trump out this coming November. And Trump just keeps going like the battery bunny with its endless energy.

  30. Cynthia McCulla says:

    We visited Dachau in 1956 while living in Weisbaden, curtesy of the USAF. I was eleven and my brother was twelve. Our docent was a former prisoner and everything still had the feel of yesterday.The quiet, eerie freshness of it all still lingers in nightmares.The showers, with their fake, wooden soaps (for re-use) and clothes pegs in the hallway, still haunts me. The careful planning to keep people subdued with those mundane details was no less horrible than the “showers” and the clawed walls. I kept imagining echoing screams and glancing around. And I’m sure, even after all these years, there were pits where bodies were dumped, coverd in lye, later dug up with an attempt of a jerry-rigged creamation. The photos on display still looked new under the pressed glass. Going deeper into morbid details would only make me sick. I’m still, to this day, all these years later, mystified and horrified of how people, ordinary people, could do this.
    It’s offensive and misinformed to compare it to America’s borders.

    • George says:

      Please … BE OFFENDED. It is only in discussing what evil people have done, keeps us vigilant for all the little steps that could take our people on a very similar path.

  31. Evelyn (Gavulic ) petersoy says:

    My uncle Dave Gavulic was in the 42 rainbow unit that liberated this camp. He was only 20 years old and cane home from the army with his hair all white. He was awArded the bronze star

  32. Fabio Bertorello says:

    E’ importantissimo non dimenticare quanto la crudeltà umana è riuscita a raggiungere e quanto, fortunatamente, moltissimi uomini sono riusciti a interrompere.
    Per non dimenticare.

  33. Virginia Lee Christensen says:

    My father was one of the 20th Armored Division that helped liberate Dachau. He never spoke of it. It was so horrendous. He did say that the smell of dead bodies could be recognized from miles away. Thank you for honoring the men and women who fought there. Thank you, too, for reminding us of those who were imprisoned.

  34. My Buddy’s Father was among the Liberation Troops.

  35. Harry B Kidd says:

    My father was with the 42nd Inf Div, 232nd Regt, Company L. He never spoke of his experiences overseas in WW2. I do know that he was at Dachau – because I have seen the certificate he received verifying his presence at the Liberation…

  36. Phil Young says:

    My Dad from Oklahoma was a radio recon operator at the front lines with the 45th. He didn’t speak about this when I was growing up. Found out much later. One of his Lieutenants told them about what they might be seeing and that they’d want to give the people all their C rations, but that they couldn’t. Only a small teaspoon of bullion or it would kill them.
    One of the hardest commands to obey.

  37. Ann M. Jarrell says:

    My husband and brother were stationed just outside Munich during the Korean conflict. I heard many stories about this camp. While visiting Germany in 1990, I had an opportunity to visit Dachau. I was overwhelmed as I made my walk from the barracks to the ovens. What a horrible thing. Man’s inhumanity to man. Never forget!!!

  38. Jack DuDash says:

    Great read. When I taught history many years ago, WWII was one of my favorites.
    What made me disappointed was that some Germans would deny that anything
    grievous happened there! Where we live in Minnesota is about 85% German and they are wonderful people. There’s a quota on Norwegians, up here, he he.

  39. Rebekha Balsdon says:

    I visited Dachau in 1991 and will always remember the silence, not even the sound of birds.

  40. Donna says:

    I can understand their desire to deny. Easier than facing it. My kids were all in German exchange programs in high school. We also one year took in a Norwegian boy for the full year. When my German students arrived for their month long stay in the spring, the Norwegian boy refused to stay in my house with them. His grandfather had passed on the hatred of the Germans. As long as hold people responsible for what was done before they were ever born, and base our hatred son the past, we will never move forward. I agree we should never forget. My father stayed behind to assist with the camp liberations and refused to ever speak of the experience. But the danger of the Nazis is that hidden down deep inside every single one of us the capacity for cruelty and evil. The Germans wer not unique in allowing an evil man to lead them down an evil road. It can happen again. The Holocaust was not the last genicide. There have been others. I am deeply insulted though, by the comparison of the ILLEGALS in this country to the Holocaust. As o many have commented, there is no comparison with the murder of six million Jews in gas chambers. How incredibly ignorant.

    • Neal says:

      Things would be so much better if everyone could just accept “As long as hold people responsible for what was done before they were ever born, and base our hatred son the past, we will never move forward. I agree we should never forget.”

      So much modern hatred is based on actions before we were born. This is what the hatred of WWII was based on, and much modern hatred is based on that. It is doubly sad that much modern hatred is not even based on family, but willingly adopted.

  41. Scott Kieserman says:

    Fold is making money from this. Appalling

    • Wayne Lewan (lewandowski) says:

      My father Zbigniew Lewandowski was a forced labourer at Muhldorf a sub camp of Dachau. After liberation he became a polish guard at Dachau for 2.5years His mother Genowefa Lewandowska was taken to Ravensbruck. She never survived.My father never spoke of it and died at a young age. I have photos of him with USA troops.

  42. Larry Dettweiler says:

    My dad was pretty tolerant but my grandfather was a confirmed anti-Semite. We lived in Hollywood which was heavily populated by Jewish folks and he would often make denigrating remarks about them. One day, at my dad’s workplace, I went to lunch but did not have enough money for the bill. After a short conversation with the elderly Japanese owner, we settled on a price that equaled the money I had on hand. When I returned to the shop, my dad asked me if I had enough money for lunch. I said, “No, but I Jewed him down.”
    This was a phrase I had heard my grandfather use on many occasions and had also heard my friends use. He looked at me the way he always did when he was displeased, tilting his head down and looking over his glasses, and said, “I want to talk to you when we get home.”
    When we got home he sat me down and brought out about twenty 8 by 10 glossies of pictures he took on the day his unit liberated Dachau. He had me look through the sickening photos of nude, emaciated bodies stacked in huge piles, bodies hanging on barb wire, bodies in mass graves and then, the ovens.
    “This is where talk like that ends up. I never want to hear you talk like that again.”
    My dad said that occasionally when he was directing the shelling of German positions he would realize that he was killing men who, had his ancestors not left Germany, might be friends or relatives. After Dachau, he said he didn’t feel so bad about it.
    I never did talk like that again and it is fitting that when I have been in really bad places in my life, it has almost always been Jewish men and women who have taken me under their wings. At one point in my life I was so impressed by all the Jews I knew I considered converting which led to my brief flirtation with Judaism. Dettweiler, however, is not a great last name if you want to be Jewish.

  43. Benny Hudson says:

    you none believers need to read Night by Elie Wiesel

    • John says:

      Who are these none believers in the comments Benny? I can’t see any as yet. Perhaps their comments have been deleted.

      Incidentally Elie Wiesel made no mention of mass murder gas chambers in his book Night – at least not in the first edition. He did speak of babies being thrown alive into flaming ditches though…

      “Not far from us, flames were leaping from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load — little children. Babies! Yes, I saw it — saw it with my own eyes … Those children in the flames. (Is it surprising that I could not sleep after that? Sleep has fled from my eyes.)”

      I think Wiesel was a liar.

  44. Jolene Jellema Howard says:

    My father was one of the Army photographers who were there when the Dachau gates were opened and the people liberated. He photographed the horrific atrocities that show the story of what happened to these people. He was also asked to work with the War Crimes Division and a medical pathologist after the war to determine the terrible types of testing that was performed on the Jewish people at Dachau. He was very reluctant to discuss the time he spent there because the memories were terrible. All of the photos were turned into the Army, but I remember him describing a few details of that awful event in time. They were shocking!

  45. Theresa Pitman says:

    Thank you. Enjoyed this story.

  46. Michael Bales says:

    In about 1954 when I was eight years old living in Germany with my family while my father was in the Air Force there, my first or second grade class visited Dachau and I can still remember seeing the gas chambers and stacks of personal belongings. It was terrible and something I’ll never forget

  47. Benedict Vinzani says:

    My father, Benedict G. Vinzani, Sr. was part of the US Army team that liberated Dachau. He shared very little about this experience.

  48. Rex Trautman says:

    Visited Dachau last year..moving..God bless those who endured it..

  49. Jim Parker says:

    I am writing to remember and honor a friend of mine who told me firsthand of liberating Dachau. He was just a dogface soldier, doing his duty. He said he could smell the camp from three miles away before he got there. I served in WWII in the Army Air Force and thankfully missed such grisly experiences.

  50. Dianne Janis says:

    I visited Dachau in 1961, while my husband was stationed in Augsburg, Germany. It’s been 58+ years but as so many others have said, I’ve never forgotten what I saw. Several original buildings were still standing, as well as the ovens, and fencing. Bloody ragged clothing was shown on mannequins next to glass cases filled with shoes, eye glasses and children’s toys. I, too, saw the lamp mentioned before. Also, notes and letters found by the liberators were on display. Man’s inhumanity to his fellow man continues to horrify me, but this day so long ago remains in my mind as sharply as if it were last month. I continue to pray that we never allow such depravity again.

  51. David P Flynn says:

    I congratulate all the writers of these comments so long after these criminal evil actions. It is important that we all recall thee evil things done by brutal evil people.

  52. Linda says:

    Everyone needs to read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl. He was a German Jewish psychiatrist who labored in 4 different camps, and he decided to study the mind of his Nazi guards. He found they were more in prison mentally than he was. He said we cannot avoid suffering, but we can learn to cope with it. I have given away many of these little paperbacks.
    A must read!

    • Nelson says:

      Linda , please don’t tell me you’re trying to defend those SS guards . They were monsters & I let out a big “Yes !!” when I read some were executed by the infuriated U.S. troops .

    • Linda,
      I wish to see a copy of this book- I work with many German people who left Germany after WWII , and are now Members of the Senior Center where I work.

    • Roman M says:

      Viktor E. Frankl wasn´t a German but an Austrian.

    • Roman M says:

      Nelson wrote on April 4, 2020 at 1:07 pm

      “Linda , please don’t tell me you’re trying to defend those SS guards . They were monsters & I let out a big “Yes !!” when I read some were executed by the infuriated U.S. troops .”

      Words from an ignorant fool. Not only does he ignore thatthe SS-men murdered by US-troops were trsnefered into the camp only days before while the real staff did flee.
      Additionaly he ignores that US-newspapers published articles about the KL Dachau already in SPRING 1934, that´s one year after the Nazis gained power in Germany.
      And what did theUSA from this time until Pearl Habrour happened? Nothing? Oh no, even worse!
      They turned away Jewish refugees from the US shores and sent them back into hell, Look up “St. Louis”!
      And tell me, why did 83% of the US population ( = 100+ million citizens!) in 1938 oposed to save even Jewish children? Why did the US not save German and Austrian Jews as long as it was possible (until Dec 31st 1941!)?

  53. James J Gaughan says:

    Thank you for this sad reminder of this most horrible event. My father was a Master Sargent in a combat engineer battalion supporting the 45 infantry division in April 1945. They built a pontoon bridge across the Rhine River and crossed over in hot pursuit of the Germany Army trying to cut them off at Munich. He told me for several days they were aware of a terrible stench in the air which they believed was from factory for tanning hides. On the morning of April 29 scouts came to him and reported they cane upon the factory but it was being guarded by SS troops. He gave the order to approach with caution. As they crawled up toward the main gate his buddy shot the SS guard from the tower. They jumped up and ran behind a 21/2 ton truck which crashed through the main gate. At the same time they heard machine gun fire from the other side of the complex. Once inside they were shocked to find thousands of starved human beings staggering toward them. They immediately radioed for support and once they realized the camp was sickened with typhoid they secured the gate. Soon after they learned that the stench they smelled for several days was the stench of human flesh from the crematorium which was still hot. I have done a bit of research on the liberation of Dachau and I learned that several Army groups all came upon it at about the same time. I also understand that the Allies were aware of the existence of the camp and there was to be an official surrender of the camp later that same day but the advanced elements of the 42nd and 45th were moving so fast they arrived sooner than anticipated. He was not aware of any of that he just knew what was in front of him. As he told me there were long periods where they had no idea what month it was. Hard to imagine today but that was 75 years ago.

    My father had gone ashore in Algeria in November 1942. He fought through N Africa, Sicily , Italy through the surrender of Rome , Southern France and into Germany. He was part of a combat engineer battalion that at various times supported different infantry divisions. They built pontoon bridges and dismantled land mines under fire , maintained the transportation and fought along side the infantry in combat. He did not tell us too much about the real horror he saw but the one story that stayed with him till the morning he died March 4 1982 was the day they came upon Dachau and how some of the toughest men the world has ever known vomited and openly cried at the sight of what man could do to man.

    I have a number of pictures he took that day including the box cars full of bodies , the gas chamber and the crematory. By unbelievable luck one day searching the internet I found a UPI photo of three US soldiers guarding the front gate of the camp. My father was the one in the middle.

    • Michael Wilson says:

      Amazing ,
      The account of your father on that day 75 years ago leaves me speachless and tears in my eyes.
      Seldom do things bother me but when it comes to suffering , especially a scale of that magnitude, well it leaves me with questions, the types of which have no answer.
      Thank you for letting us not to forget what had taken place and that the nightmare in fact did happen. Some day maybe we can teach tolerance, love and compassion to our very young ones, not give them toy guns and knives as birthday presents showing them cartoons where taking the life of a carecter is normal and those unspeakable things of what your father and mine experienced would never and will never happen again.
      This I can dream for.
      May Peace, Love and Joy fill your thoughts and your heart.

    • Don Bryant says:

      Just read your article. My dad followed much the same path as yours. I am not for sure if he was in the freeing of Dachau but he did talk of seeing those from concentration camp. he was a member of the 179th combat engineers. He died in 1980 and did not talk much about his experiences in the war. I would like to hear from you if possible. Thank you for sharing.

    • TCTS says:

      I have a friend whom I met while taking a Jewelry making class, who did not talk much about her life.

      When, at first I recall meeting this woman, with a polish accent, who loved to cook meat and fruit filled pastries for people in the class, I noted she had a interesting sense of what people should and should not do! In time, she made jewelry that reflected her background, such as the Star of David, a Dreidel, and such, at which I was beginning to wonder if she was in Poland during the occupation. What she did tell us was that she was a little girl during that time, but little more, which I figured was her prerogative and I did not go any further.

      One day, after a year or so, we were cleaning and polishing our works, and the normally long sleeves of her blouse were pulled up, I saw a long number on her sleeve, and then I knew why she was so private about her life in Poland.

      Later that day, I asked the teacher about her, and he said she told him that she lost her parents, and siblings there in one of the camps, and she was the only one left of her family and the only reason she was spared was because she could sing for the guards in the mess hall, and sew their clothes. Food was passed to her by some who were compassionate enough to give it to her.

      I gained a greater sense respect for her, as I could only wonder what horrors she witnessed, what family and friends she lost, and what she had to endure just to survive.

      I also gained a greater respect for people, not knowing what their background is, and then learning and knowing what possibilities might lead people to where they are today!

      As of 4 years ago, she was still going strong, though she does not make jewelry anymore. she was 83!

    • Jame J Gaughan says:

      Dan I would like to correspond with you as well. Please email me at [email protected]

    • James A.Kraft says:

      Hi James.

      Great thanks to you father and the other heroes of that God awful time in history. My father fought in the Pacific however my Uncle, also a Sargent, was with the Armored Battalion that also liberated Dachau. I am in possession of a letter he wrote to his mother, my grandmother that graphically described what he saw that day. It was read at his funeral lest no one forget. I would be interested in comparing notes with you. A good chance my uncle Harry Kraft knew of your father and quite frankly could be in a picture of two from your records.

      Ps. I had two uncles who were in the D Day invasion. Uncle Harry was one of them. Both survived to pass on their stories of their experiences.

      Jim Kraft
      York, Pa

    • Dave Kerr says:

      No 2 1/2 ton truck crashed through the main gate.

      The heavy bridges across the Amper bridge were destroyed. The only surviving bridge was able to support jeeps only.

    • Judy says:

      I went to Dachau in ‘92 or ‘93 with a group of high school soccer players. I insisted we go to Dachau so that these young men would never forget what happened. They had a video to watch first, then we walked around the camp. It was very sobering. There was not a word spoken until we got back to Munich. My son is now 42 and he still remembers everything about Dachau and all the emotions he felt that day! Such a travesty against all humankind.

    • Diane Moore says:

      Wow! Truly fortunate to find the photo of your dad. I visited Dachau in 2015. Such a sobering experience. When true evil is unleashed and allowed to flourish.

    • Krochmalnik says:

      Dear James,

      your father was a incredible hero! Why I write you today? Because my father was liberated a day later on his way to be killed after dead march and Ausschwitz and Łódź Ghetto in Munich by exactly the division of your father. Can you belive… I just found out a few month ago. I would love to hear from you a see the pictures and what your father went through and about you. Without your father and the brave camerades of your father I wouldn’t be here today to write you!!! Please write me [email protected]! I am on Facebook under the name Aron Krochmalnik. I heard that some last members of the rainbow division had planned to come to Munich in July and was planning to invite them all but now in this crazy times would. It be possible! It’s so important that we the rescuers 2 G and 3 G and the childs of the victims tell the world what happened especially in this dark times… Thank you James to tell us here and please please contact me! All the best LOVE and stay strong

    • al says:

      May your father RIP.
      God bless him

    • Roy P - VN veteran says:

      Your father was a true hero!!! Thank God for all those brave men✝

    • I wept as I read your words. Thank you for sharing! This must NOT be forgotten!!

  54. Tatiana Briggs says:

    Very emotional reading this. My late father Waclaw Kowalewski was a POW in this camp. He was one of the lucky ones, he survived and emigrated to Australia in 1950 but the stories he told were horrendous.

  55. Carl Gottlieb says:

    My wife and I toured Germany in May, 2014. The most sobering stop was the Dachau concentration camp. To this day, this remembrance sends chills down my spine. It is impossible to imagine the horrors the inmates suffered. The doubters of the Holocaust should be required to visit one of these camps to experience a little of the shame the camps represent.

    • Sharon Replogle says:

      “Sobering” is a good word. Difficult to describe the feeling that overcomes you as you walk through this empty camp. Even though the buildings are no longer there, you can feel the death and sadness that lingers yet. And those atrocities occurred right in the middle of Munich and life went on as though NOTHING was happening. I agree Carl, anyone who enters wouldn’t leave a “doubter.”

    • Roman M says:

      Sharon Replogle wrote ” […] And those atrocities occurred right in the middle of Munich […]”

      Nonsense. The camp is located on the outher edge of the town. Only 200 yards nowadays to the open fields. And this area was not inhabitated at this time.

  56. Keith A Culbreth says:

    My Father was there, he had just turned 20 years old. I cannot imagine seeing such things at that age. He never spoke of his time in the war. After passing away in 2017, we found a story he had written describing his time, “I saw three railroad boxcars loaded with bodies, some of the bodies were covered in lime (I call them bodies but, they were more skeletons with flesh). This will live in my mind forever.”
    At his service, one of his neighbors approached us. He told us of a dinner he attended with other neighbors. He saw my Dad in the corner talking to a couple from down the street. When he walked up, he said my Dad and the couple were crying and began to hug. They discovered that the couple were at Dachau and my father was one of the soldiers who rescued them.

    • Chrystal Poche says:

      How beautiful to cross paths again! I pray some how that healed a part of him knowing he saved lifes!

  57. Donna Eitel says:

    Thank you for this. This must never be forgotten.

  58. Jean Aronson says:

    My father, Irvin E. McDaniel, was one of those American soldiers at Dachau. He had nightmares the rest of his life about the horrors he saw there. He was also at the bridge at Remagen, Germany that was saved long enough for the Americans to cross over.

    • My father, Fred Veinfurt was at the bridge at Remagden too. He maintained he was in the first jeep to cross. He rarely spoke about the camps except to say it was the most horrible thing he witnessed.

  59. Matt Lafferty says:

    Jenny, thank you for posting this information. My father was a member of the 283rd FABN (a Pennsylvania field artillery unit, 105’s), attached to the 157th Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division in the early morning hours of April 29th, 1945. He and I went back in 1995 and retraced his Units steps, from Normandy (coming across the beach at Ste. Germain de Varriville (Utah)) to Berchtesgaden (May 7th/8th, 1945). A wonderful trip filled with many memories and stories. Good wishes to everyone!

  60. Tom Power says:

    This is an important site. Many thanks to those responsible for it. To-day is my 90th birthday and I am reading Deborah Lipstadt’s book on the trial in which she was sued for libel by David Irving because she had named him as a Holocaust denier. They have not gone away. I remember seeing the pictures in the newspaper at the end on January 1945 of the prisoners released by the British Army from Belsen. We need to keep their memory alive if only to ensure that people like Irving cannot keep spreading their evil lies.

  61. Patrick Barge says:

    I have a friend whose father was one of the first through that hole. He made his way to the commandant’s office and kicked in the door. The Commandant was at his desk and had his pistol aimed at my friend’s father. My friend’s father shot the pistol out of the Commandant’s hand. My friend still has that pistol along with the monogrammed holster.

  62. Larry Mathias says:

    My father, Othmar Mathias, was one of the American soldiers who liberated Dachau and the rest of his life, like other soldiers, had nightmares about it till he passed away. He has pictures of the camp and gave to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC. The last 15 years of his life, he would go to the grade schools and high schools in Southern Indiana and explain the tragedy of war and the Holocaust.

    • Diane says:

      What a great gift your dad gave to those youngsters. War isn’t like in video games. They need to understand that. How touching that he shared his experiences over and over. What a caring human. ❤️

    • Karen German says:

      My Dad , Newell S. Bugbee, was at Dachau when it was liberated. He said only officers and doctors were allowed in because of the diseases the people had. He didn’t see much, other than “people walking around inside”. Some soldiers took pictures and he brought home pile of them. He must have thrown them away because I haven’t seen them since I was young.

  63. Min F. says:

    My parents were survivors from Poland. Any time I read of the atrocities & first person accounts, I cry. My mother’s home was destroyed in the bombing at the start of the war & she suffered from nightmares for many years. It is very important that the world does not forget what occurred!

    • Roman says:

      What kind of survivors? Ethnic Poles or Jews who escaped the Polish collaborateurs or Polish partisans eg. from the Armia Krajowa, who also murdered Jews (to name only on example).
      Do you know that in Poland already Jews were murdered in pogroms in 1918, when no German or Soviet soldier was in the country? Yet even after WWII Holocaust survivors were murdered by Poles, eg. in 1946, again in the town of Kielce!
      Do you know about the anti-Jewsih regulations in Poland prior WWII? When not, look it up.

  64. John says:

    “He and other prisoners assembled in the compound yard waiting in line for their turn at the gas chambers.”

    Nobody was ever gassed to death at Dachau. This is not ‘holocaust denial’ but a recognised historical fact. Indeed, there were no ‘death camps’ in the entire territory captured by the western allies.

    • L.d.d. says:

      How sad anyone believes what you posted. I knew a U S Officer who was one of the first into the Liberated Camp. EVERYTHING IN ALL THE OTHER POSTS ENTIRELY TRUE! I am sorry for your belief.

    • John says:

      To L.d.d. – If you have physical evidence that anyone was gassed to death at Dachau then please produce it.

      Read this:

    • Jim Kinne says:

      John – please study the issue a little more. Starting in the 1970’s thru 2012 (as a military dependent, a military member, a DOD contractor), I have made at least 12-15 trips to Dachau and no one has ever claimed that the chamber facilities weren’t used or were just training “classrooms”. Gassings occurred at Dachau and evidence was presented during the trials at Nuremberg in addition to the fact that opened Zyklon-B packaging from IG Farben were found at the site. I agree that Dachau was not intended to be an extermination camp but killings did take place there and I would dare say every other camp in the system including allied Luftstalag/POW camps.

    • John says:

      To Jim Kinne – The presence of Zyklon-B is not evidence of mass murder by gassing. Zyklon-B was a pest control product. There were ‘gas chambers’ at Dachau, but they were small rooms with air tight doors where Zyklon-B was used to fumigate clothing and bedding in order to kill typhus carrying lice. The doors were clearly marked with a skull and crossbones and the words “Caution! Gas! Life danger! Do not open!”

      The US government used Zyklon-B in the 1930s for similar purposes:

      “From 1929, the United States Public Health Service used Zyklon B to fumigate freight trains and clothes of Mexican immigrants entering the United States. Uses in Germany included delousing clothing (often using a portable sealed chamber invented by Degesch in the 1930s) and fumigating ships, warehouses, and trains.”

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments. The statement about the prisoner waiting in line to be gassed comes from a first-hand interview with him. You can click the link to see his statement.

    • JimG says:

      John is correct in that the gas chambers were not used to gas people at Dachau. This does not mean that Dachau was not a death camp; it was. I toured the camp in 1985 and even though I knew what had happened there, just being there was as some have said here, “sobering.”

    • Jan Epps says:

      You need to face FACTS

    • You are sadly mistaken.

    • history1 says:

      Correct, John!
      All extermination/death camps of the Aktion Reinhard were built in Poland for a reason. To hide it from the German public.

  65. Gin says:

    The 1st photo has been photo shopped covering up the faces. nice article of history, maybe the article will reach just 1 person to see what socialism is. Ever Democrat needs to be shown this and as many pictures one can show.
    educate the younger folks that are for socialism. They do not know the history.

    its horrible what they did to people.

    • Kathy Peacock says:

      Democrats nor Republicans do not believe in Socialism. That’s a lot of propaganda put on Facebook by those wanting to create division of parties and hate. We are always Americans first! If we don’t like either political party, we can start another one in which we believe. American needs to be put first before a party.

    • Diane says:

      Gin, this wasn’t the time or place. Not even close.

  66. Kathy Peacock says:

    My husband and I toured Germany near the places he was serving as an Army Veteran in the early 1950’s. His older brother had died in WWII while serving in Germany immediately after the D-Day Invasion. He is buried in an American Military Cemetery in Belgium. While touring Germany my husband wanted me and our daughter to see Dachau. Unbelievable! What not using one’s common sense and following a person who would demand that people of another race or religion be destroyed is beyond my thinking! Destruction of humans like this is taking and teaching hate to the highest level. The feeling of love is removed from the followers’ minds. The Devil and his army won for a length of time at Dachau, but the Christian army finally intervened and rescued those suffering.

    As bad as Dachau is a physical reminder of our past history, to keep it as a teaching tool for future generations to see what can happen to humans by other humans is a must for our future generations to learn kindness and love is the answer to survival.

  67. Larry says:

    Thank you for this article. I just finished reading,”The Stone Crusher”, by Jeremy Dronfield. The book is a true story of a Father and Son’s fight for survival in Auschwitz.

    I’ve been researching my father’s activities during WWII. He was, William R. Nicholson, a Staff Sergeant in the 42nd Rainbow Division, 232, Company K. Like so many vets, he never spoke about his experiences during the war. A few things were transmitted, second hand, through our mother. She once said, “His group was involved with the liberation of Dachau”. I’ve learned that the 42nd Rainbow division was directly involved, but am still trying to determine if the 232, K Company had any direct involvement. Any suggestions of source material that could provide that kind of information?

  68. Susan Garcia says:

    My dad was at Daucau when the war ended
    They were preparing to go to Japan.
    He was also part of General Patten’s

    • Clay says:

      My grandfather was there too, he described the prisoners, the starved barely alive people, and stacks of bodies, stacked as high as cordwood, he described how they were so hungry and my grandfather had nothing to offer but chewing gum, a few of the prisoners chewed up and swallowed it right down. It was August 29, 1945, he was a half track armored driver for the 27th AAA for General Patton. He died in January 1961. 44 yrs old

  69. Shelia Stearns says:

    Thank you for reminding us of the horrific atrocities committed at Dachau. May we never forget, lest we repeat again.
    Thank you to those wonderful men and women who sacrificed so much to liberate and expose the truth.

    • Jan Epps says:

      Beautifully stated thank you

    • Roman says:

      Only a pitty that the USA didn´t care earlier, right!?
      Instead they requested from Jewish refugees trying to save ttheri lives that they bring a lot of money with them so that their care wouldn´t cost tax-$. Or that they find a sponsor in overseas who would be willed to give them an affidavit.
      Humanity is something different. But we know how the USA is treating nowadays refugees, thus no surprise that they didn´t handle it differently at this time.
      BTW, what about 4 centuries of murder of Indian native people and apartheid until the early 60s? Colored people are still considered 2nd class humans in the US in 2020.

  70. Judy Estes Lawrence says:

    Since history is notorious for repeating itself in one form or another, this is why articles like this should be written, put in school books, and remembered every single year. World War II did show that the Americans who served should forever be remembered as the “Greatest Generation.” My father’s first lesson for me after the War was, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death. And that generation did just that. So we never forget…………their bravery, their sacrifice, and places and the people of Dachau.

  71. Dave Kerr says:

    Jenny Ashcroft wrote:

    “Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments. The statement about the prisoner waiting in line to be gassed comes from a first-hand interview with him. You can click the link to see his statement.”

    It is clear that Ms. Ashcroft is not as well informed about KZ Dachau as she thinks she is. There were no functioning gas chambers at the camp. Nonetheless, the Germans managed to kill over 30,000 inmates by shooting, disease and general neglect.

    • Dave Kerr says:

      No functioning gas chamber used to murder the inmates of KZ Dachau.

    • Diane says:

      Dave Kerr – little difference whether the prisoners were gassed to death, shot, or put in the ovens, which Dachau had. They were all murdered. It really isn’t relevant how.

  72. James J Gaughan says:

    James Gaughan

    I would recommend that any one interested in learning more please obtain” Dachau Liberated The Official Report by The US Seventh Army Edited by Michael W Perry. Inkling Books. Seattle 2000. I purchased this book on line a few years ago. The report does confirm that Dachau was not originally intended as an extermination camp. However , On page 52 the book does confirm the use of the gas chamber for detainees who were sent there for the purpose of execution. Mostly Jews and Russians. The description of the gas chamber with a sign saying “ shower “ and bars of soap outside and racks for hanging clothing are consistent with my fathers account and a photo I have that he took. I have no further evidence but this is sufficient for me.

  73. Dave Kerr says:

    U.S. Holocaust Museum:

    “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.”

  74. Jeffrey Blalock says:

    My dad was lifer in the US Army and he was stationed in Augsburg Germany from 1956 to 1958 and while we lived there we would visit Dachau when were we visited the area.

    I was in the first to third grade and to this day I can tell exactly how the main building was laid out from one end to the other. We walked through the undressing room through the shower (gas chamber) to the ovens.

    At that time I was told later that they were wired with dynamite set to be blown up just in case the Soviet Union started a war.

    • Diane says:

      We visited Dachau in 2015, and it’s just as you say. I can still recall that long hallway with the tiny cells, going inside the cells, walking through the larger rooms, past the tall wooden bunks in a huge room, the showers, then the ovens. That last room with pictures hanging from the ceiling of individuals who died at Dachau and their stories will stay in my mind forever.

  75. Philip B. McGuire says:

    My father, at the age of 20, was in the 473rd AAA bn and he also reported being at Dachau when the camp was liberated. He said bodies were stacked there and local residents were forced to bury the dead, in part so they could never deny the atrocities there. Anyone else have a relative from the 473rd AAA? Please contact me. I’ve done research on the unit but can’t find records of them being there. I did visit graves of 473rd AAA in Brittany and at Omaha Beach.

  76. I’m glad to have Fold3 make these records more available. It’s a very sad chapter in mankind’s history. As a missionary for the Mormon Church in Germany in the early 1960s, I worked in Munich and, with the permission of the Mission President my companion and I took the train out to Dachau, just a few miles away. It was a soul-searing experience to learn and see evidence of what had gone on there, though of course we didn’t see what the soldiers had seen just a few short years before us. It was an education, and that is yet understatement; the start of a life-long tutorial on totalitarian regimes, the evils of power run amok and unrestrained, the very much less than simple Christian teachings of forgiveness and accountability for wrong-doing, and rendering righteous judgments. Those years and since have fostered a deep appreciation for the contribution of European peoples and cultures, including Germans, to Western Civilization, which in turn have contributed also to a solid grounding in what the United States Constitution has meant for tempering man’s inclination to exploit and misuse; not perfect, of course, but more perfect and influential than anything else in the history books. Exploring Dachau in the summer of 1962, with numerous other like opportunities, has broadened my world and seasoned my perceptions and understanding. Such is, I suppose, the purpose of education.

  77. Lisa says:

    My father Andrew Gross was one of the survivors liberated on 4/29/45 from Kaufering a subcamp of Dachau. Starving and sick and 15 years old, he had told me of the exhilaration upon being rescued by the American soldiers on that day. He has said one more day he would not have lived if not for the rescue on 4/29. Thank you to the brave men and women who liberated my dad from the bottom of my heart. He was forever thankful and grateful for his life and his freedom.
    Let us never forget.

  78. Karen Ramsey says:

    What an amazing description, explanation, and portrayal of this horrific place. In 1967 my husband and I toured the museum and grounds of Dachau Concentration Camp. Memorials were still being constructed but needless to say it still left a very heavy impression on us. Outside the main building and before the long walkway along the area of the barracks was the pit where the dead and near-dead were tossed. When we returned from Germany, a close friend of the family, Gordon Boudreau, listened as we talked about it and then he told us he was in the first line of soldiers to enter when the camp was overtaken. He remembered many of the things that have been stated in this article and in the comments here. He talked about the guard in the tower being shot, the U.S. officers who “lost their cool” as they entered and shot many of the German officers over what they saw. Someone told of a friend in one comment that he entered the office and shot the officer at the desk. This he related to us also. But the biggest impression he preferred to remember was the smiles of all the people who could still stand and came to greet them. His family told us they had never heard him talk about any of this before. Most of us will never totally understand the horrible memories our military has about any war time event.

    • Dave Kerr says:

      Gordon Boudreau belonged to I Company, 157th Infantry Regiment, of the 45th Infantry Division. His company plus L company were indeed among the first Americans to enter the SS Camp adjacent to KZ Dachau as well as KZ Dachau itself on 29 April 1945. There may have been an officer shot at his desk but it was not the camp commandant. He had fled the day before the Seventh Army arrived.

    • Roman says:

      ” Someone told of a friend in one comment that he entered the office and shot the officer at the desk.”

      Wrong. The person claimed that the soldier shot a gun out of the hand of the SS-officer/camp commander who sat on a desk.

  79. Jessica denning says:

    My father, captured P47 pilot Andrew Chasko, was part of the liberation of Dacchau.
    He had escaped his POW camp and met up with Patton’s 14th Armored Division, and returned on the front of the first tank in to liberate Mooseburg’s 120,000 Allied POWs
    He said, “it was the greatest sound I ever heard.”
    He then went on to liberate Dacchau. I assume it was also with the 14th armored Division but I don’t know.
    He became an honorary member of the 14th.
    He was there to liberate Dacchau but he was astonished that ‘they just laid there,’ and did not respond to liberation. They were so far gone.
    This makes me think that he had liberated the typhus camp, one of the 6 camps at Dacchau.
    His few words to Mom were, “Did you know the top soil in the Black Forest is twelve feet deep?”
    I visited Dacchau in 1971 with my hubby who served in the US Army in Germany in the 60s.
    I slept in the German commandant’s house as a guest of my hubby’s roommate’s brother who was US Army officer in charge. (Neither Dacchau nor West Berlin were returned to Germany after the war.)
    I did not know then, that Dad had liberated Dacchau.
    We walked thru the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate in the morning and silently walked thru the silent camp alone.
    You could still smell burnt flesh, in the ovens, in 1971.
    Horrid beyond human comprehension

    • Dave Kerr says:

      Actually, the 14th Armored Division did not liberate KZ Dachau, the main camp.

      But it did liberate several of its sub-camps.

    • Chet Ogan says:

      While on TDY to Germany in October 1978 several of us visited Dachau. I still can remember the stench that still lingers in the camp, now preserved as a memorial to human injustice and prejudice.

    • Roman says:

      “You could still smell burnt flesh, in the ovens, in 1971.”

      Bull. That´s not possible.

  80. Shelly Cash says:

    Sickening what people do to each other

  81. Lee A. Antle says:

    And we think we have a hard life. Nothing compares to the horrific treatment one human can inflict on others. I hope this period in history is never brushed aside by current events.

  82. Patricia Mata says:

    A great report, even though evil and horrible. Just not enough words to express feelings of grief and loss for so many people, MILLIONS. So much pain, sorrow, for the survivors. I grieve for your loss, yet today. May your descendants be blessed.

  83. Steven N. Ulosevich, EdD, SPHR Emeritus says:

    My father TSgt Steven A. Ulosevich, US Army, served in WW II. Areas of operations included Greenland (during the German torpedoing/sinking of the Dorchester) and Europe. As fate would have it, my father took part in the liberation of Dachau. It was the most dreadful experience of his five years in the Army.

    While growing up under his roof, I cannot recall one time my father would tolerate being in the same room as someone who wore stripped pajamas, which, unfortunately, were frequently worn by his father-in-law (my maternal grandfather). The experience of seeing the dead and emaciated living prisoners dressed in stripped garb at Dauchau was so emotionally traumatic that my father could not even tolerate seeing pin-stripped pajamas on a character in a movie or on a TV show. He was tough to live with at times. No one knew what PTSD was at the time he was still trying to process the terrible memories he made at Dachau.

    Because of his language skills, blue-collar upbringing on the lower east side of NYC, and graduating from high school in NJ, my father was assigned to interview the captured German guards and the prisoners, who were coherent and strong enough to undergo an interview. During the interviews, the prisoners related about experiments performed by German medical doctors and scientists using prisoners as human subjects. The prisoners also explained how some had been tortured as the objects of guard/police dogs undergoing training.

    Naked men were hung on a wall with all four appendages splayed out and secured by four iron cuffs that were welded to chains. The last link of each chain was welded to a steel plate bolted to one of the walls of the torture chamber. Using a long thin stick, the dog trainer jiggled the genitals of each defenseless man. The dogs were free to attack the men at will. After bleeding out, most of the dismembered deceased were taken to the oven that served the trainers, doctors and scientists. My father saw the blood spattered walls upon which the men were tortured while the guard dogs underwent a portion of Dachau’s sadistic training curriculum.

    Also, a few dead prisoners were skinned before being sent to the oven. The German captors made lampshades of the harvested human skin. My father saw the lampshades on the lamps which sat on the desks of higher-ranked officers.

    Although my father did not see evidence of the torture that some women reportedly underwent before going to the ovens, the prisoners told my father about scientists inserting hollow glass rods into the vaginas of the prisoners and then crushed the rods. After they died, their skin was harvested before the bodies were sent to the ovens.

    • Roman M says:

      Naked men were hung on a wall with all four appendages splayed out and secured by four iron cuffs that were welded to chains. The last link of each chain was welded to a steel plate bolted to one of the walls of the torture chamber. Using a long thin stick, the dog trainer jiggled the genitals of each defenseless man. The dogs were free to attack the men at will. After bleeding out, most of the dismembered deceased were taken to the oven that served the trainers, doctors and scientists. My father saw the blood spattered walls upon which the men were tortured while the guard dogs underwent a portion of Dachau’s sadistic training curriculum.

      Also, a few dead prisoners were skinned before being sent to the oven. The German captors made lampshades of the harvested human skin. My father saw the lampshades on the lamps which sat on the desks of higher-ranked officers.

      Although my father did not see evidence of the torture that some women reportedly underwent before going to the ovens, the prisoners told my father about scientists inserting hollow glass rods into the vaginas of the prisoners and then crushed the rods. After they died, their skin was harvested before the bodies were sent to the ovens.”

      Your father and the prisoners had too much phantasy. No skin was harvested there nor did human skin lamp ever exist.

    • Roman says:

  84. Cecelia Frandsen says:

    My Dad was one of the soldiers who liberated the camp. He spoke fluent German as he was bilingual, do served as an interpreter. He never talked about it. And never forgot the horror he saw. Thanks for sharing these moving pictures.

  85. Karen Davis says:

    I visited Dachau about 23 years ago. It was so quiet. It was so sobering. We didn’t dare speak above a whisper. It was so haunting and so sad.
    I relived that exact same feeling 8 years ago when I visited the now beautiful World Trade Center park to pay my respects to those who lost their lives that day.
    In 2014 I met a concentration camp survivor. Nick as 93 at the time we met, and my neighbor. He was not Jewish. He was a political prisoner who not do the work the Nazis tried to force all the young men to do for their cause. He told me his story. He told everyone he could his story. He did not want these atrocities to be forgotten. He found his liberators when he moved to the US, and he and his wife attended a reunion with them every year. He was so grateful to his liberators.
    Thank you for doing this article.

  86. Nick McCall says:

    Excellent article, Fold3 and Ms. Ashcraft.

    One of my father’s friends and my 9th grade science teacher and coach, Jimmy Gentry of Franklin, Tennessee, told us only very briefly that he had served with the 42nd Infantry Division and was there with it when Dachau was liberated. He really did not like to recall its horrors and talk about it at all; we knew it was rare for him to tell us even the little bit that he did on that day back in 1976.

    Only later in his life has Coach Gentry talked and written in more detail about what he and his fellow soldiers encountered. Thirteen years ago, he went back to Dachau. Some of that can be found here:

    Your excellent post brought back to my mind Jimmy’s recollections of his experiences on that day in late April 1945.

    Thank God for the service of Jimmy Gentry and for that of his peers of the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions, who liberated the long-suffering and horribly victimized prisoners of Dachau, and who helped crush the bestial Nazi regime.

  87. Louisa Filomarino Cauvin says:

    Over the 12 years of use as a concentration camp, the Dachau administration recorded the intake of 206,206 prisoners and deaths of 31,951. Crematoria were constructed to dispose of the deceased. Visitors may now walk through the buildings and view the ovens used to cremate bodies, which hid the evidence of many deaths. It is claimed that in 1942, more than 3,166 prisoners in weakened condition were transported to Hartheim Castle near Linz, and were executed by poison gas because they were deemed unfit. [From Wikipedia]

  88. And they want to take this out history!!!! I know of some of this stuff, when in Germany
    in 1965,we made friends with a German. He showed us slides of all these men and all of their conditions. how can people live with themselves?? These slides,were to be destroyed. I will do give his name, but must be gone by now. I wish we would leaen from our mistakes.

  89. I lived in Gelnhausen in 89-92 with 3rd Armor Division. My Captain told me when I arrived I had a free day any day I wanted to go visit one of three Concentration camps close by and then come back and talk with him. I went to Desert Storm and came back and took a lot of leave and planned a Dachau trip alone. I was suffering from PTSD . I am glad I got the trip after my own War experience it put things into perspective. I was only 18 when I went to war myself. I walk up to the gates and seen all the pictures that lined the room of the people that had died. All the Shoes and Sleeping quarters. It was left Undisturbed, so that we could see for ourselves. I looked at the German people different that day. And I was in the Country for a reason. I came back to Gelnhausen and my Captain cornered me in mess hall and was like hey didn’t you go visit Dachau? I was like yeah and he was like come have lunch with me. He said what did you see? I sat there and cried as I was trying to tell him what I seen. Couldn’t even eat my meal that I had just got. He looked me dead in the eyes and was like if you ever hear or see a naysayer, you confront him on the spot and say your lying and I seen it myself. Don’t you dare try that with me . You be a witness. And a Patriot. Because this can never happen as long as you and I walk this earth. It changed my life.

    • Roman says:

      Why do Muricans not reflect their own history?
      Slavery, murder and persecution of native tribes for over 4 centuries, apartheit until the 60ies, and wars, wars, wars, throughout it´s history! It keeps the weapon industry running, right!?

      Words from an US- Army colonel:
      “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! … I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians. … Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.
      — Col. John Milton Chivington”

  90. Joe Kalista says:

    I knew a man who liberated the camp. He found Nazi pictures that documented what the Nazis did. They were small like todays postage stamps. He kept them. In the 60s he showed them to his son and I when he thought we were old enough. They were the most horrible gruesome things I ever saw. They were worse than those in our history books. What the German Nazi people did was unforgivable. After he died (late80s) they were donated to a museum. My wife and I visited Dauchau in 1975 and it’s a very somber and sad reminder the torturded.

  91. Jane Botts Bradley says:

    My mother was a USArmy nurse at the liberation of Dachau. She told us stories of the horrors that people did to people and that she and other nurses and doctors tried to repair. She said we must never forget and must never allow a repeat.

  92. Gail DeLucia Bjorndal says:

    My Father, Master Sgt, Louis T. DeLucia was one of the soldiers that arrived to assist in their liberation. I have some pictures I can attach.

    • Martin Scott says:

      Please attach pictures! Better, send them to me via email. Many thanks. See my April 5th post.

  93. Caren says:

    As I sit in my home reading these accounts the tears well up. My husband was born in a Displaced Persons camp outside of Bad Richenhal. In 1981 we visited Dachau, to this day I remember walking through the gate and I immediately started to cry. Walking through the building with the pictures hanging from the ceiling caused me to become hysterical but I couldn’t leave I had to see every last item displayed. As we walked the grounds I cried. I will never forget how I felt. We must remember this awful time in history and teach it to the children.


    And here the world is AGAIN with china as the RING LEADER to DESTROY as many humans as possible. I will NEVER forget those that have TRIED to destroy us.

  95. Martin Scott says:

    Thank you for the post. My father is in the front row, left foreground, bright white pajamas, hat raised over his head in this famous liberation shot. He will be 90 in May, please God. One of the things I do is paint. I sign all of my work Martin Scott, ben 116288 to highlight that the final solution did not work. 116288 is George Scott’s number and “ben” means son in Hebrew. This story reminds me of the gratitude I have for the brave men who broke down the gates of hell where work never set anyone free.

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      Martin – WOW! Thank you for sharing that. Please give your dad a big collective hug from all of us.

  96. In1965 when I was 14 y/o, my family visited Dachau while we were in Munich. My father was in the USAF and we were stationed overseas. He had visited Dachau soon after the war was over and wanted us to see for ourselves and experience the human suffering that had occurred. I already was well versed about the Holocaust, as my parents wanted us to be knowledgeable about it. To give some contrast, this was only 20 years after the war and Dachau did not look like it does now. I mostly remember the deep somber quiet upon entering under the “work will make you free” sign above me. It was quiet, empty, no sounds of trees rustling, no birds chirping, no sound at all, just a heavy feeling descending on me. I bent down to scoop some soil into my hand and found it very oily even then. I still have that soil. There was no museum then, only a small cabin like structure that housed some graphic pictures and some Nazi “souvenirs” found by the Americans upon liberation. There was a lampshade made from the skin of a prisoner, a small bag made also from skin of a prisoner. We then continued and saw the chambers were they were gassed using zyclon B, and the ovens where the bodies were cremated, some looking like there was still residue in them, but perhaps that was my 14 year old mind playing tricks on me. Everywhere was the total silence and cloying feeling of despair pressing upon me. I am 69 now and have never forgotten what I saw and felt. I haven’t been back to Dachau and don’t know what it looks like now, but I will forever remember how it was in 1965. Lest We Forget.

    • Roman says:

      “There was a lampshade made from the skin of a prisoner,”

      Fake story, there was no human skin lampshade. Additonaly it is from the KL Buchenwald and not the KL Dachau near Munich!

  97. Roman M says:

    “Some Nazi guards were rounded up and killed by American forces so infuriated by what they saw. ”

    What a nice whitewashing of a war crime and the violation of the Geneve Conventions! Hopefully you´re not proud about?

    • nancy dezsofi says:

      Reply to Roman April 5, 2020 at 8:42 am post:

      What I saw I will never forget. You weren’t there and are obviously a naysayer. I have pictures from that day, given to me by my father who was there in 1945 along with my own pictures taken at the time. The lampshade was there as were other items. Were you there then? Doubt it, so don’t speak of what you don’t know!!

  98. marilyn l mckay says:

    My parents(col and mrs r.b.mckay) took me to dachau in 1947. We were among the first dependents into Europe after ww.2.
    My memories of that visit are vivid, I was 7, and are still in my mind.
    Marilyn McKay.

  99. Phil says:

    My father in law was with the 504th MP BN and had the misfortune to help liberate the camp. I still have his brownie camera pictures of the rail cars, and the camp. And yes, American troops did kill some of the hard core nazi guards. Scum like that didn’t deserve a trial or an mercy. I would have done the same had I been there. War Crime? Really? Just what does anyone call what the nazi’s were doing.

    • Roman says:

      “And yes, American troops did kill some of the hard core nazi guards. Scum like that didn’t deserve a trial or an mercy.I would have done the same had I been there. War Crime? Really? ”

      Words from an uneducated ignorant. Those guards whom the US troops caught were Waffen-SS and only transfered there days before. According the Rules of War and the Geneve Conventions the murder of POW is a war crime. And so is holding them at gunpoint to allow former inmates to torture and murder them.
      BTW, your statement doesn´t surprise, US troops kill even unarmed journalists in war zones and people who only try to render first aid. And US troops kill wounded enemy soldiers instead to render aid as requested byinternational treaties. And the best, they show their violations on social media!

  100. P says:

    Gee, and just what were the nazi’s doing there? I’m glad that they did that. Those guards deserved no mercy for what they had done. Go ahead and judge those troops in hindsight. You don’t know what you would have done in their place. So don’t be holier than thou in your self-righteous pronouncements.

  101. Lee_B says:

    From research conducted by others I’ve learned that my father’s outfit, the 2nd Chemical Warfare Battalion, was at Dachau the day the Army liberated the camp. I understand that because of what the Army feared they might find they sent in the 2nd Chemical Bat. who was trained to deal with a variety of toxins. What my father saw that day forever changed his life. Although he never spoke of it to my mother or me, he did chat with a close friend. Years later that friend refused to share any details but said it was beyond anything imaginable.

  102. Richard J Petranek says:

    My father whose first language was Czech was a member of the 393th Ambulance Corp, 3rd Army. He was sent to Dachau to aide those who had been interred. I have a picture of him in Dachau…. He lived with the horror of the war til he had dementia …then he found peace

  103. Dave Kerr says:

    “Many of the I Company men were also sickened by the realization of what some of their comrades had done that day. Hank Mills said, ‘We came over here to stop this bullshit and here we’ve got somebody doing the same thing. Once [the German guards] were unarmed, they were prisoners. You can’t shoot ’em, you can’t do that. That’s an atrocity, I’m sure.'”

    Rock of Anzio, Flint Whitlock, page 385.

  104. Bobbie Roeske says:

    My father was a linesman, part of the 42nd infantry, and one of the first soldiers inside. He spoke Polish and talked to some of the survivors. He didn’t talk much about it, but told us this. A frail old woman approached him and said, “Are you an angel? My father replied, “No, mother, I am an American soldier and I am here to set you free.” I still cry when I think about the horror they witnessed.

    My brother told me he and dad were watching tv and deniers were saying these things never happened. My father became angry, went to the basement and brought up photos he took at the camp. “Don’t ever let anyone say this never happened,” were the words he said to my brother as he shared the photos of bodies and furnaces, and skeletal survivors.

  105. Willis Harvey says:

    I was one of the members of the liberating army, 222nd Infantry, G company. Part of the rainbow division. I remember very well the whole horrible situation. As the article states, you can’t believe that humans would inflict the horrors on another human. The sanitary conditions didn’t exist, whole place smelled like a sewer. A series of memories that I would really really like to forget. I celebrated my 94th birthday in January and still remember how horrible this was for not only the prisoners but also for those of us that were there to get them out.

    • Dave Kerr says:

      Kudos to you, Mr. Harvey.

      Dachau was hell for those interned there and a traumatizing experience for many of its liberators.

    • Keavy Sargent says:

      Thank you for your service, thank you for your yes to help others. I hope and pray for peace over your mind and heart as it’s unimaginable what you had to see and what others had to experience. Words cannot show the amount of my and my families gratitude.

    • Steven Brown says:

      Thank you for your service in that war…my wife’s father was part of the infantry that was forever scarred by what they witnessed at Dachau that day…his nightmares continued until he passed away in 2008…as Alzheimer’s began to claim his mind in his final months, he briefly relived that period when the camp was liberated, and proceeded to knock on the doors in the nursing home ward in which he resided, telling those he encountered that they were free, and could go home…sadly, he never applied for PTSD treatment, feeling there were far too many who more needed the VA’s limited resources more than he.

    • ed dodson says:

      My uncle Ray was one of the many thousands of young men that went in on D-Day. I made it a point to tell or show my sons what men like you and my uncle Ray did for this nation and the world as a whole in that dark time. Thank you for telling your story here. We must never forget!

    • Roxanna L Keyes says:

      God bless you sir. Thank you for your service, thank you for the strength to be a liberator for so many, thank you for the continued strength to share the truth.

    • Megan Bogley says:

      God bless you Mr. Harvey and thank you for your service. Because of people / Soldiers like you, we as a society should be grateful for what we have. There will never be enough thanks to make up for the sacrifices you and your comrades in arms made to defend our country and defend those that could not defend themselves. That’s why your generation will be forever immortalized as “the greatest generation.”

    • Pete Siegel says:

      Mr Harvey,

      I hope you have given your oral/video history to someone along with any other documents or photos. It is vital that the stories of The Greatest Generation be preserved.

    • I sent a previous reply but my computer acted up so I don’t know if you got it. However, I wanted to just say, Thank you so much for your service! I can’t imagine what you saw and what you went through during the war. My mother was an Army Nurse with the 1st Army in Europe. She, too, was in one of the concentration camps but not Dachau. She had a few pictures but she rarely, if ever, talked about her experience. God bless you and give you peace. Thank you for sharing!

    • Maria says:

      Thank you so much for freeing them and for your service to our country.

    • Jennifer Napierski says:

      I went to Dachau years ago when I lived in Germany and the faces of the people they used in the experiments (from pictures they had there) are seared into my memory. I can’t even imagine what they went through or the horrors your father saw.

    • Susan says:

      You are an angel Mr. Harvey. Thank you for your service. May we never forget.

    • Terrie says:

      God Bless You. Thank You for serving and helping to free fellow humans from the atrocities inflicted on them. I truly hope we and our future children will learn and love from the history of our past. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are AWESOME!!!

    • Jane Lennox says:

      I respect you so much for doing what you were called to do… as unimaginable as it was. My son is in the military in Edmonton AB. Thank you doesn’t seem enough but thank you.

    • Matthew Ralley Wedel says:

      Mr. Harvey,
      Thank you for sharing your story. My Great Uncle (I called him Granpa) was Ralley Wedel. He was a member of the 42nd and I dont remember him sharing a single story with me. He talked to my parents about how bad it was, but never his grandkids. I know he was trying to protect us from that.

    • Bradlee Harris says:

      After my father, Robert Lee Harris, passed away in 2012 I found photos from his Leica camera in an envelope with “Dachau” written on it. They were horrific in black and white. I can’t imagine how much worse it was to witness in person.
      As with most men who fought my father never spoke much of his service and nothing about this. I have tried unsuccessfully to get his detailed records from National Archives. They were destroyed in the fire. I know only that he was part of Patton’s 3rd army but not the company he was in or his job. His rank was sergeant.
      From a newspaper article in his home town after the war it said his last job had been as a guard over German prisoners. Even my mother did not know of this. She thought he had been a clerk and didn’t see anything.
      A hell of a lot for a 23 year young man to witness. How could any not be affected or changed?
      I have a photograph of his insignia, medals and badges but cannot determine what all of them represent. Some are not listed on the Army website. If anyone on this feed knows of him I would be so very grateful for any information.

    • James G Hamilton says:

      Was Col. Walter “Mike” Fellenz the head of your unit? I knew him in the 1970’s when I was in my teens & he was a great man. Thanks for your service to our country.

    • Lis says:

      Mr. Harvey, thank you for your service to our country in an abominable moment in history and for your witness here. Happy 94th, may you have many more healthy ones. You are a blessing.

  106. Jan Penland says:

    I was a child during WWII, and vividly remember photos in a magazine (probably Life) of a female Nazi sitting at a desk, working by the light of a lamp with a shade of human skin. I visited Dachau in 1990 and will never forget the experience. As so many others have commented, the silence was eerie. I remember a bud vase containing a flower sitting on one of the ovens. I was literally unable to speak for several hours after leaving the place.

  107. Raphael Klarfeld says:

    I used to volunteer at the Stonewall National Museum in Ft. Lauderdale, USA, which is the iargest circulating gay library in the US. In about 2005 they displayed the Smithsonian traveling exhibit about gays and the Holocaust and I taught the docents. The gays were not all freed because the war was over Many were not released until Paragraph 175 was abolished much later because they were imprisoned under that law. Talk about adding insult to injury.

  108. Charlie Brocksmith says:

    Army truck driver from 66-68 in Germany. Delivered supplies to the small barracks next door. Walked around the block on a Sunday and visited. There is a nunnery on the site there where prayers are said. Not much left then but the cremation buildings and piles of what I was told were piles of cremains covered with growing flowers. It was very peaceful/quiet, but had a strange feeling. If you go to Munich go for a drive and visit.

  109. ROBERT W. BURDICK,MD says:

    My father’s division the 63rd ( fire and blood) apparently participated in liberating Dachau( and his company the satellite camps) as the division is honored by the holocaust Museum in both NYC and Washington. Of course he NEVER spoke of this but I have his diary with dates and towns and villages he went through-he was in 363rd medical battalion company D-any relatives out there who had family in his division and hopefully in his medical battalion/company please contact me(I never got any replies when he passed in 2001)
    Also does anyone know what ribbons he was eligible for?
    Please answer one way or another.
    thanks Robert W. Burdick,MD
    dad was Reuben W. Burdick T/5

  110. Lori Moreland says:

    My father, H. Myron Moreland, was one of the liberators as he was part of the 20th armored division of the US army. He was 20 years old at the time. It forever impacted his view of the world.

  111. Dolly says:

    My father’s unit was there as well on that first day to liberate. 83rdChemical attached to Rangers.

  112. Joyce says:

    My dad was also in the 20th Armored Division. THough out his life he would occasionally wake up smelling Dachau.

  113. Darlene Berry Spengler says:

    I was four year old in 1950, living with my family in US occupied Germany. My father, a Captain, was working with Displaced Persons helping them resettle and heard many tragic stories of internment in Dachau. He insisted that our family see Dachau so that we never forget how inhumane man can be. I was the youngest and full of questions, What was that horrible smell, what was that bulldozer doing? What were those ovens in between those buildings? My mother explained the horror when my brothers opened the metal door to look inside and saw ashes that hadn’t been completely removed! We saw the reception room that was actually a gas chamber. It was only years later that I could comprehend what I saw. But, I never forgot the smell.
    About 8 years ago, my husband and I visited Munich where my family had lived and took a tour of Dachau. The smell remained only in my mind and everything was neat and many buildings were removed including those ovens. The tour guide told us that there weren’t ovens at Dachau. I disagreed and related my experience. He said he didn’t find any references to ovens in his research. Maybe it was felt that the ovens were a part of Dachau that shouldn’t be memorialized. It’s a memory that I will never forget even if I was too young at the time to realize the tragedy.

    • C. Forrester says:

      Darlene, I toured Dachau in 2017 and our guide took us to see three ovens that are tucked away on the property. That memory is forever in my brain. Just letting you know that you’re right and some guides do show them…I’m sorry you had to correct him because they are there – two in the gas chamber building and one just outside of that building.

    • Mari Toole says:

      So glad to see these posts. I visited while I was living in Darmstadt in 1962 and thought perhaps the smell was from a dead rat.
      The barbed wire crown made such an impact on me.

  114. Angela Dunmore says:

    I visited the memorial in 1980 with my Dad who served in WWII. Walking through the life sized photos and hearing the rolling shutters coming down in the movie theater after learning about the gas chambers was chilling! Later, I learned that my Uncle Herbie, 3968th Quartermaster
    Truck Company, was at the liberation. He hadn’t gone with us because he said it brought up too many horrible memories. Man’s inhumanity!

  115. Sameera V Thurmond says:

    As an African American with a past of slavery, I can only feel unbelievable anger toward any one who would participate in something so inimical to the lives of any human beings. I hope that God will prevent our ever committing such a heinous crime again.

  116. Debi Goodman says:

    When we were stationed overseas(USAF, 26 yrs), my husband and I took our daughter on a trip to Germany. Part of our heritage is in Bavaria. We decided to take our daughter, 14 at the time, to Dauchau. She had become very bored with “moldy old castles” and such. It was late November, about 40 degrees and damp. The skies were dark. I have never felt anything like it. There were may a dozen people there. We went through the museum where I found a picture taken from a prisoner that looked EXACTLY like my father. That poor man could have been a relative. Our daughter was silent for 3 hours. I took a picture of us at the gates, but no others. It didnt seem right. We purchased a book and movie there. It sunk in. My daughter is 28 now. She remembers that day more clearly than any other. She wrote a paper in high school and took an entire semester a out the holocaust in college. We cannot let future generations forget or let the deniers win. God bless those who served.

  117. Gary Howell says:

    My wife and I visited Dachau in the mid 90s along with my Mom and Dad who were celebrating their 50th Wedding anniversary. I am an avid reader— especially of military history and, prior to our trip, had read several books re the British SOE and female agents they had enlisted. Of course, the agents adopted code names and one that really stuck with me was Madeleine—Noor Inayat Khan—a beautiful, exotic educated woman with an Indian father and American mother. I had read that she and 3 other SOE operatives were eventually captured and shot at Dachau. As we traveled the grounds of Dachau we came to the ovens and near them was a plaque dedicated to Madeleine and the 3 other agents shot—Yolande Beekman, Madeleine Damerent, and Elaine Plewman. Reading that plaque and realizing I was physically where these 4 agents were shot on September 13, 1944 was one of the most emotional moments I have ever had. My Dad, who had survived the hell of New Guinea and New Britain, was equally overcome. As we walked back across the grounds I thought of what occurred at Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Auschwitz-Birkenau and hundreds of other Nazi killing sites. It is incomprehensible—but it DID occur. I don’t think Robert Burns could have envisioned this when he talked of “man’s inhumanity to man”. If you have not read of the heroism of the SOE agents in WWII, you should.

  118. Gail Wright says:

    My father was one of the Liberators. He told me about the horrors he witnessed. He said the bodies were stacked like cords of wood and the only way you knew who was alive was from their eye movement.

  119. Celeste says:

    My sister and I had the sad privilege of visiting the camp last year. We remembered with pride my uncle who was one of the American liberators. We deeply were grief-stricken by the insurmountable horrors generated there against innocent humans because of their religion, race, sexual identity, and careers that were too professional and truth-seeking for the Nazi devilry. We remembered them for their courage and suffering.

  120. Tom Richey says:

    My dad was with the 45 ID and one of the first in to the camp, said he took a squad to look in the railcars and was horrified. The impressions of what he saw there haunted him his entire life, understandably so. He had many photographs that he took while there, my brother is in possession of them now.

    • Dan Law says:

      My grandfather Harry C. Law told me he was also one of the first to arrive at Dachau, ahead of the front line, and that he was the first American doctor on scene. I’m not sure in which infantry he was serving (he was from Western New York) and have not found any information on fold3 or elsewhere. I wonder if he was with your father. He did tell me about the stacked bodies just before he died 20 years ago, but prior to that he spoke very little about the war.

    • Dave Kerr says:


      According to the 29 June 1945 Division Roster, Capt. Harry C. Law was with the Clearing Company of the 120th Medical Battalion of the 45th Infantry Division. He would have arrived at KZ Dachau after it was secured by the infantry.

  121. Zelda Ladan says:

    My father had photos he took of that day, he was a medic, and his memories haunted him for all of his life, although he rarely spoke of it. His photos were self-processed, but all of them had a stamp on the back declaring them “not for publication”. I saw them when I was a child, and they were awful, carts full of bodies, and death everywhere. They were damaged and finally discarded due to weather damage to our home.

  122. H.Gates Kunkler says:

    Gen Eisenhower on Nazi concentration camps WWII….
    Holocaust & Concentration Camps
    “But the most interesting – although horrible – sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they [there] were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’.”

  123. Ardra Finney says:

    My father was Capt. William R. Finney of the 20th Armored Division (1908-1964). As others have said, the horrors he saw at Dachau never left him. The nurse at the hospital where he died told me he would start yelling in the middle of the night and wake up everyone else. He never talked about the war, but I later worked with an ex-Army man who finally asked one day if my father was William Rutledge Finney. (Goosebumps to this day when I think about it!) When I said yes, he told me their story. He said they were together at Berchtesgaden on V-E Day and Daddy said it was my seventh birthday (it was). They were chasing Hitler’s S.S. troops, had crossed the bridge at Remagen before it collapsed and were at the Liberation of Dachau before going on to rid the world of Hitler. My dad called his jeep “So ‘Tis Ardra” after me and there was a tank “Doris” named after my sister. They also acquired a German trailer he called “Sister”. I can’t help but wonder if Jean, Louise and Matt’s dads knew my dad.

    One item I have is the 20th Armored Division’s “yearbook” of their time from activation to deactivation. Several pages relate the horrors of Dachau with many pictures. One of those pictures shows my dad standing and looking down at the dead bodies. That section starts with the following comment:

    “Dachau!!! 20th Armored Division led the way to its capture by Infantry troops. 20th Armored Division troops were there and saw its nauseating horror. Here was the proof of cruelty, sadism, ruthlessness of every vicious characteristic of which man can be guilty. Hardened veterans of war looked and retched. It was that bad. The pictures on these pages will bring it back to those who saw.”

    I hope the world never forgets.

  124. Cindy Guerra Holmes says:

    My Dad Ramiro R. Guerra, passed away two days shy of his 95th birthday on March 11, 2020. He was a member of the 45th Infantry Division as was among the first who help liberate Dachau. He was our hero, He said the atrocities he saw stayed with him and the other soldiers with him. He also fought in Korea and Vietnam.
    My brother went back with my Dad and his family several years ago. It was a very somber visit but he was recognized there as a hero.

    • Dave Kerr says:

      Cindy, your dad was a Tec 4 with the 45th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop of the 45th Infantry Division, according to the 29 June 1945 Division Roster. According to the After Action Report, the Troop was providing “protection to the Division headquarters and protection to the Commanding General’s CP” on 29 April 1945. Since MG Frederick was at Dachau on that day, it is entirely possible that your father was at Dachau on 29 April.

  125. Gary says:

    This piece, along with the comments, should be posted on social media (such as Facebook) so that the larger audience is exposed to it and the truth to which it attests. Please, post this.

  126. Kathy Hurla says:

    My father was with the 42nd Rainbow Division, serving as the Motor. Sergeant for the divisional Cavalry Troop. I had the pleasure of traveling the trail of the Rainbow Division with my Dad on a Rainbow Division reunion trip in 1988. Going into Dachau wasn’t a pleasure. It was gut wrenching. All six of Dad’s children were proud of his short career in the Army. He didn’t talk to us of what he saw. I was enlightened going on that journey with him.

  127. Peter Wlodylo says:

    My father Wasyl Wladylo was a prisoner in Dachau, before that he was a prisoner in Natzweiler France nazi concentration camp. He was a member of the French Resistance, I remember his first hand accounts after he had a few beers talking to his Polish friend here in the US in Jersey City. I was about 5 at the time. The question was “What did you do during the war” He replied, “I was working for the French Underground, they caught me and put me in a camp, I did not know exactly where, they made us sleep on barb wire and beat us in the middle of the night, they gave me a uniform with no numbers, I had to remember my numbers or they would beat me, they made us line up for the morning lineup, they would hang us every morning and we did not know who was next. Friendly guards told me “They are going to hang you in the morning” I hid in a crevice in a wall, they tore the camp apart for days, they could not find me. Friendly guards told me where to go to get under the wire, they came looking for me after I got out, I hid in a canal under the water filled with sewer, for 3 days I was there breathing through a straw, I did not dare move, they were very very close, they gave up, they could not stand the stench. I was escaping on a train, the SS men came on both sides of me, pointing pistols at my head, what could I do? They took me to Dachau and beat me, I lost several of my teeth, I almost died. ” How did you get to the US? “The US Army showed up and rescued me, I spent years in the hospital” This story that I am relating to you is from my father Wasyl Wladylo, I am Peter Wlodylo and I was born in the DP camp in Munchen Germany, Father, mother and I came to New York City and came to live in Jersey City. I got confirmation from the US Holocaust Museum . The German Government said “Your father was arrested by the German Armed Forces for being a member of the French Resistance.

  128. Brenda says:

    My father, Carl Clifton, was one driving one of the first tanks into Dachau with the 20th Division. I just can’t imagine what he went through seeing all the devastation of humans that went on there. He never talked about it much to his 4 daughters though.

    • Dave Kerr says:

      No tanks drove into Dachau when it was liberated. In fact, the role of the 20th AD in the liberation on 29 April 1945 is problematic.

  129. William Kemp says:

    My father of the 38th Armored Inf 7th Armored was captured near St. Vith and was incarcerated at Stalag IV-B at the end of Dec 1944. By the end of April 1945, he was released by the Russians and nearly died of pneumonia and weighed about 88 lbs. He carried his POW tags back with him along with some holocaust pics apparently given to him by British soldiers. One of them was particularly graphic. Since I saw this picture all through my years I could never forget it.

  130. I am 91 years old and am now one of relatively few people still alive that saw Dachau before it was “renovated” and eventually turned into a historical museum. Barracks, ovens, etc, were still there. Interesting, but many German civilians who lived and worked nearby denied knowledge of the atrocities that occurred there.

    Not meant to be a funny story, but that prison facility was used after WWII by US Military forces as a prison for American GI’s who had broken various military laws. Some German people “misunderstood” the level of punishment meted out there.

    I was stationed in Freising, Germany in 1948 – 1949 with the USAF 604th AC&W Squadron.

  131. Kathy says:

    My father, Lawrence (Jonny) Fransted, was a tec 5 42 recon squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry. He passed away in 2009, Does anyone know is he was at Dachau? My cousin says he told her he was but he did not talk to me about it. Thank you very sincerely! Kathy

  132. James G Hamilton says:

    Was Col. Walter “Mike” Fellenz the head of your unit? I knew him in the 1970’s when I was in my teens & he was a great man. Thanks for your service to our country.

  133. L. Harvey Kirk says:

    My father, then-Maj. Lewis H. Kirk, was sent the day of Dachau’s liberation from Army HQ to document the scene with notes and photos. I have copies of the 36 pictures he took that day… the railroad cars, the fake shower/gas chamber, the crematorium, stacks of dead bodies everywhere, the dead German guards… most are too graphic to share.

  134. Mary Guerra Nicholson says:

    Mt Father, Ramiro Guerra, was part of the 45th Division. He was there. He never spoke of things he saw until much later in his life. His life here recently ended. He “graduated” on to heaven on March 11, 2020, just 2 days shy of his 95th birthday. He had just turned 20 when he saw the “unthinkable” there.

    May God bless all those who served, persevered, and endured these horrible things; and the families that supported them. Dad said we were united as a country then, fighting for a common goal. We are losing the greatest generation very rapidly now. They would all be in their 90’s. May we take a moment and learn from them.

  135. My father Ernest Donald Braden joined the army at the beginning of the war in Owensboro, Ky. He was placed in the paratroopers for training. Once the training was in full force they discovered he had a heart murmur. He was discharged and worked for the war effort.
    My question: Would there be a record of his joining and them being discharged. Would there be any papers?

  136. H.Gates Kunkler says:

    I’m a retired Naval Aviator having flown on 9 Aitvraft Carriers.
    This is a true story about….
    Mac McCullough who had a locksmith business next door to mine in Flour Bluff, a suburb of Corpus Christi, TX. We became very good friends.

    McCullough, Lory L, b. 04/19/1920, d. 12/13/1987, MAJ US ARMY, 82nd Airborne.
    Burial Plot: 2C 441, bur. 12/17/1987, San Antonio Military cemetery. 232-22-8191
    Star & Stripes Apr 1, 1944, pg2 promoted to Maj 7968th Hq Grp. in USAREUR.
    1st Lt. captured 28 Sep 1944 in Holland by German Army. Interned in Camp 045.
    Escaped from German prison camp in North Poland in winter with another American POW.
    Made their way South to Intl Red Cross in Warsaw. Received warm clothes (Russian uniforms).
    Continued their trek S between German and Russian lines to Odessa on the Black Sea. En route, The Russian Army picked them up thinking they were German army and tossed in a Russian POW camp. Two weeks later, The Russians were convinced they were U/S Army.
    Caught a boat to Cairo, Egypt. US Military in Cairo placed them in refugee camp until they determined who they were. (Satellites weren’t invented yet). They were always hungry! Few weeks later, after positive ID, they were given some// money and sent to US Army in Naples, Italy. They were given US Army enlisted uniforms. Since they were Officers, they had Officer bars placed on their uniforms.
    They were then tossed in the Army brig for impersonating Officers! This was finally ironed out and he called his wife. She wanted to know if he was calling from Russia. She had a telegram from the War Department that he was in Russia.later on.
    Note: War Department became Dept of Defense

    Repatriated 21 Mar 1945

    McCullough, Rosemary V, b. 02/17/1921, d. 09/07/1983, MAJ USA,
    Plot: 2C 441, bur. 09/09/1983, *

  137. Janet Perkins says:

    This history needs to keep being told so no one forgets the atrocities.