Massacre in Dachau - for which the Americans shot prisoners of war

On April 29, 1945, soldiers of the 45th US Infantry Division, without encountering resistance, entered the territory of the facility marked on the maps as "Camp Dachau" near Munich. Numerous camp guards did not scatter - lined up, meeting the winners

SS Obersturmfuehrer Heinrich Skodzenski, appointed by the commandant, came out to meet the Americans. Carefully shaved and ironed, he began to talk about the surrender of his soldiers and officers, about the guarantees of their safety.

The surrender is described by Brigadier General Henning Linden, a memorandum by Major General Harry J. Collins entitled "Report on the Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp":

As we approached the southwest corner, three men marched with a white flag. We met them about 70 meters north of the southwest corner. The three men were Swiss Red Cross spokesman Viktor Maurer and two SS soldiers who said they were the camp commandant and his assistant. They came here on the night of the 28th to take over the authority to surrender the concentration camp to the advancing Americans. A Swiss Red Cross spokesman said that there were about 560 SS guards left in the concentration camp, who laid down their arms, with the exception of those in the tower ... there were 42, 000 prisoners, many of whom were infected with typhus ... He asked if I was an officer. I replied, "I am the assistant division commander of the 42nd Infantry Division and will accept the surrender of the concentration camp to the United States Army ..." (Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks)

But what the Americans saw in a few minutes on the territory of the camp shocked them - 40 carriages without a roof, full of emaciated corpses in the late stages of decomposition. Some of them were dead for hours or days before the capture of the concentration camp and lay where they died. A row of cement structures containing rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely dressed corpses from floor to ceiling. Piled in a heap like logs, naked bodies, including children. And the still warm ovens of the crematorium ... One of the American officers, without thinking twice, unloaded a machine gun into Skodzenski's face ...

Subsequent events are dryly described by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Whitaker in a special investigation dated June 8, 1945, which, after being read by the highest ranks, was classified in the United States for many years.

"11.30. American soldiers, impressed by what they saw in the camp, kill 122 German prisoners of war, mostly SS soldiers. The escaped prisoners kill about 40 more guards, some of them with their bare hands, many are beaten to death with simple shovels.

12.00. Order in the camp has been temporarily restored. 358 German soldiers were taken prisoner, many of them were wounded soldiers from the hospital.

12.05. A machine gunner named Bird's Eye suddenly shouted: "They are trying to escape!" - and opened fire, killing 12 soldiers before Lt. Col. Felix Sparks pushed him away from the machine gun saying "what the hell are you doing?"

12.15. Order has been restored again.

12.30. Most of the prisoners have been returned to their cells.

14.45. 346 captured German soldiers were shot at the wall of block C of the camp. At least one German soldier was beaten with prisoners in the same place. Survivors are finished off with single shots.

18.00. Additional units arrive to help guard the camp.

None of the participants in the massacre was punished, the charges were dropped by General Patton.

Losses among prisoners of war: shot on the spot - 122, killed by prisoners - 40, shot from machine guns - 346 + 12, killed in action - 30, fled - 10, total - 560.

Concentration camps on the territory of Poland, including the largest one - Auschwitz (Auschwitz) - were liberated by the Soviet army, some of the camps on the territory of Germany were allies. The reaction was the same everywhere: horror, shock, hatred. It happened that immediately after the release, prisoners killed especially atrocious guards in front of the allies, there are cases when the SS men were crushed with tanks, hung up without trial, or given machine guns to prisoners so that they themselves carried out the sentences. But nowhere else was there such a mass murder of already disarmed people, even if there were criminals, as in Dachau, neither before nor after that.