Allied Forces Massacred 500 Surrendered Nazi Soldiers

By Michael Van Duisen on Wednesday, August 28, 2013
dachau
“There our troops found sights, sounds, and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind.” —US Colonel William W. Quinn on Dachau

In A Nutshell

On April 29, 1945, shortly after US soldiers had liberated the Dachau concentration camp, many of the German guards and German POWs were executed by US soldiers (some by freed prisoners), acts of reprisal said to have been committed because of the atrocities many of the Americans had never seen firsthand.

The Whole Bushel

On the morning of April 29, 1945, SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker was left in charge after most of the SS leaders of Dachau fled their posts. He wisely surrendered the Dachau concentration camp to US forces. The Americans proceeded to enter the camp, passing uncovered boxcars full of decomposing bodies, witnessing the horrors inflicted by the Nazis in Dachau, many for the first time. It was this feeling of despair, anger, and disbelief that is said to be the main driving force behind the wanton slaughter and execution of almost all of the Germans in the camp, later known as the Dachau Massacre.

Around 11:30 AM, about 122 of the Germans were killed by the Americans, with another 40 Germans killed by liberated prisoners, many using only their bare hands. (Private John Lee of I Company was later quoted as saying he was personally involved in the execution of 60 Germans.) Later, another 50 Germans were collected near an L-shaped wall and left under the watch of a private from M Company, a 19-year-old nicknamed “Birdeye.” As soon as he was alone with the prisoners, he opened fire, claiming “they were trying to get away,” a fact disputed by the colonel who stopped him. (At least 12 of them died on the spot, with many more wounded.)

Later in the day, around 2:30 PM, 346 Germans (almost all that remained) were taken to an area near the outskirts of the camp. Under the direction of First Lieutenant Jack Bushyhead, they were all executed, many by machine gun fire. A few were individually shot or, in the case of at least one SS officer, beaten to death by liberated prisoners. At this point, there were almost no Germans left (about 10 had escaped but were later captured), and the camp was proclaimed to be liberated.

Show Me The Proof

Dachau Concentration Camp: Liberation
Dachau, May Day, 1945