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

  • Russia

    OH YEA HITLER GETS NUKED

  • Ricky Sanowara

    I thought that was a Quentin Tarantino movie

    • Steve W

      “I’m in the killin’ Nazi bidness and bidness is BOOMIN’”

  • gillybean

    I always feel sad when people who could’ve been heroes cross that line into barbarism for the sake of petty vengeance. All they did was detract from their own achievement.

    • Arsnl

      I wouldnt say the prisoners turned to barbarism and looking for petty revenge. I am completely against capital punishment, but war is not a normal situation and even if they were “barbaric” they were pushed in that situation by the guards themselves. I am far more shocked that Mengele got away than by the fact that a few butchers got butchered
      Lets just say we weren’t there, we dont know what they saw.

    • FILOSOFY

      If you saw what the Nazi’s did to the prisoners you would do the same…

      I could easily call you callous and barbaric if you treated them humanely… because you’re putting Nazis in higher regard than the innocent people.

      The problem about morality is that it wholly depends upon perspective, and any perspective basically sees every one else as nonsense and cruel. In the end, no perspective makes much sense at all because morality itself wasn’t founded upon logic.

      I’m not saying I agree that you should be beaten to death with bare hands just because you followed your government in a mass killing scheme; but neither am I saying that you SHOULDN’T. That decision is for the people present to make; I have no valid reasons to support either over the other.

      But what I am saying is I think you might be a little naive looking down upon others that turn to revenge; it’s easy to point and condescend, but they have their reasons- this is ESPECIALLY for the prisoners.

      So if I force you to work, starve you, murder your family members, for months or even years… what’s the first thing that you’d do upon seeing me? Oh hi? Let’s give you a humane punishment? No you would beat the crap out of me.

      Again, I’m NOT saying this is RIGHT (morally), but I’m saying that these people have their reasons and in that circumstance it was probably more justified than you (as a casual observer light years away from the event) think it is.

      • gillybean

        I’m not putting anybody in higher regard than anybody else. I honestly can’t find where, in my statement, you got that. All I’m saying is that, had they handed these beasts over to the relevant authorities to be dealt with accordingly, they would have been heroes. Now, because they lost control of themselves (and I’m not saying I could’ve kept it any better), they’re barbarians who put themselves on the same moral plane as the aforementioned beasts. I do understand that the prisoners wanting revenge but punishment and vengeance are not the same thing.

        • FILOSOFY

          Sorry maybe that whole higher regard thing wasn’t properly worded. What I meant was that if you treat monsters humanely; people who have killed and murdered without second though of innocents, then you’re not so much of a goody two shoes yourself aren’t you?

          I agree the proper choice here is that they should have been handed over to the authorities (even though I have no proof that this is a better choice). However, this agreement is just a perspective, and is not objectively true. It is only as true as any opinion can get.

          You’ve reiterated what you’re saying, and what I’m saying is basically that from the point of view of prisoners and allied soldiers, it was perfectly justified at the time, and they had very good reasons to do what they do.

          Prisoners don’t want punishment; they want revenge, so do the soldiers. I’m not one to judge, because like I said, my opinion is no more valid than theirs because I have no real basis upon which to argue. I could say that handing them over to the government is better, but who knows what the government is going to do? I was not present at the scene, and I can’t really argue my position other than say that it feels more comforting than hearing people beaten to death.

          They would probably say beating people to death is a comfort, but as a whole, they had their reasons, and should be understood accordingly.

          • gillybean

            “. . . innocents, then you’re not so much of a goody two shoes yourself aren’t you. . .” Erm, yeah. I understand that in these kinds of circumstances feelings are strong, especially in the victims. I just don’t think it was their place to dole out punishment. You’d have them all beaten to death? From the man who followed orders to save himself and his family, all the way up to the twisted individuals that use phrases like ” . . .the greater good . . .”? That’s what international war crimes tribunals are for. Why sully the hands of innocent men with the blood of beasts?

          • Joe

            I don’t care if it wasn’t their place or they should have gotten a trial. They got what they deserved. Those guards did such horrible things I don’t even know what words would be sufficient. If anyone deserved revenge it was those victims and the people that liberated those camps will always be heroes regardless of your opinion.

          • Jack1899

            I would just like to add, that I had lived in the UK for the 7 years back in early 2000s. And I never met anyone as intellectually dumb and profoundly stupid as you, I feel blessed.

        • FILOSOFY

          Also, killing innocent civilians and killing people who murder innocent civilians are two completely different ideas…

          I wouldn’t say that they are on the same moral plane. You are probably just saying it because they cruelly massacred the Nazi soldiers? What if they were all put on trial and all executed? How does that make it any better? Still, I’m sure many people would favor the latter.

          I could say the police are on the same moral plane as criminals, because they also carry guns and also shoot people to death… who are you to argue my position?

          Again, if you’re measuring morality or justification by a degree of CRUELTY then you’re derailing from logic, because it is subjective and not a very good position to argue from. We think things are CRUEL only because they hurt our feelings… but what’s that supposed to mean?

          So no, they are definitely not on the same moral plane. I know this probably isn’t you, and I’m not accusing you, but I believe that most people who say killing criminals make you the same monster are just doing it for the sake of sounding like an overly good person… and is a fallacy at best, because no it definitely is NOT true. That’s why the LAW system exists; if we truly believed that it was true then there would be no punishment for any criminal, because doing so would make us criminals.

          (obviously you can go back to oh ‘humane’ punishments… which just gets us back to square one of arguing from cruelty)

          It is only because we believe in retribution (punishing criminals) that LAW exists in the first place.

          Are you sure you believe in what you say?

          • gillybean

            Absolutely, I think we should still have the death penalty here in the UK. I just don’t think that the victim should get to choose who is guilty and how they are punished because that is NEVER going to be objective.

          • Liege_Lord

            the death penalty doesn’t deter crime and its has been proved that innocent people have been put to death and proven innocent later. Its a unretractable act and the governments should not be playing god, were lucky it isn’t abused and is heavily laden with beaurocracy here in CA, it could one day be a slippery slope

          • gillybean

            I guess the grass is always greener, huh? I understand that it doesn’t deter criminals but it does kinda cut the odds of reoffending. There was a case here in the UK not long ago, a 12 year old girl, Tia Sharpe, was murdered by her grandmothers boyfriend, Stuart Hazell. Not only was there buckets of evidence, he confessed. For what reason are we paying to keep this pitiful creature alive?

      • Liege_Lord

        Well spoken

      • Sewo

        You know, humans are enviromental dependant and selfish. Look at Abu Ghraib. American soldiers becoming monsters. Did those prisoners deserve that? Sure, they might have killed 100′s, even children but still… To give in to such urges is weak in my eyes. We are all monsters but we deny ourselfs that. So what happens is things like Abu Ghraib. We are in denial about that part and when it comes you won’t even see it coming and before you know it, you’re standing in a pool of blood.

        I’m not even kidding, this is scientificly researched. It showed good and evil is NOTHING INHERITED it’s merely a choice. A choice. No values, no morals – a choice. When you live in an area with a lot of death. The matter loses it’s emotional hold on you. You wouldn’t care as much.

        I don’t even know what the fck I woud’ve done if I was a Nazi gaurd of a concentration camp. Would I look away, participate or would I oppose? What would I have done if I were a US solder in Abu Ghraib? Would I be weak and become a monster? Or would I be strong and oppose? It’s not right here ,right now that I’m talking about. These things grow on you, slowly they creep in. It starts small but eventually … – you’ll end up no better than any of the worst psychopaths in history. THAT is what happend in Abu Ghraib. No ‘rotten apples’ just ignorance to the monster within. Denial.

        Everyone wants to believe they’d be the hero. But how many times do people condemn murderers? Condemn pedo’s? Condemn rapers? 98.99% condemn and wants to see them suffer on a SHEER IMPULSE. THAT is the monster.

        TL;DR – “And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

    • Liege_Lord

      I wouldn’t say detract, right and wrong aren’t quantifiable actions which you tally up… there are innumerable variables which influence our actions and this was a very outlying scenario far from the norm for what a normal human being would ever expect to encounter.

      All massacre’s are terrible by nature, the definition is (an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people / deliberately and violently kill (a large number of people), so there is never a “good” massacre, but lets all stop splitting hairs for one second. These were Nazis, I know in the 21st century its “hip” to differentiate between wehrmacht and SS, but these were SS I believe, shipped in or not, they were guarding and torturing these prisioners, they were aware of what was going on, they can’t even play the “we had no idea! What’s a concentration camp?” game. These were bad people.

    • Kloot

      Have you ever been at the mercy of men who were “just following orders”. Those Nazis would have been executed sooner or later…..

      • gillybean

        So put that shoe on the other foot, have you ever been compelled by your government to take action that you thought was abhorrent for the sake of saving your family/self?
        I’m not saying that these beasts didn’t deserve execution, I just firmly believe that little niceties like trials should not be forsaken.

        • Kloot

          You’re a firm believer in trials …. I’m a firm believer in vigilante swift justice. Just like every last one of those U.S soldiers. Those men were so overwhelmed by what they saw that they reacted in kind. War doesn’t always get to fair.

      • Frodo28

        That’s the difference between a slave and a free man, a slave follows orders out of fear, a free man will fight and die for what he believes is right. I have no sympathy for those Nazis.

    • Jack1899

      @disqus_cWDsRVYvKE:disqus your kind of people, give Americans a bad name. How dumb can you possibly be, you are trying to put the holocaust under politically correct glasses, I don’t think you have the power to comprehend or even understand what happened under the Nazis. I bet you are one of the Bieberduffs or whatever they are called! Go f*ck yourself!

      • gillybean

        First, I’m not American. Second, you swear at me and make assumptions about me based on a few comments on here? And you call me dumb? Lol! And third, all I said is that the guards should have been tried instead of brutally murdered with no evidence of their guilt. FREAK!!!

  • Jazayna

    What’s sad is that the ss soldiers that were running the camps were given orders to leave and replacements were placed there with orders to surrender the camps to the US. Those men weren’t even the ones responsible for the ill treatment of the inmates of the camp, yet they had to endure the full backlash from the US soldiers and the inmates!

    • aussieshepherd

      Except the ones beaten by prisoners…I’m sure they recognized the guards that were there before.

      • coolidge

        At that time, a German soldier was a German soldier – it wouldn’t make any difference to the inmates or US soldiers what they did or didn’t do.

        • aussieshepherd

          I totally get your point. I’m not saying that’s what should have happened, only I can understand why it happened.

  • Exiled Phoenix

    They were nazis. It wasn’t a massacre, it was swift justice. Only good nazi is a dead one.

    • Da Silva

      By your comment and the comments of all the other small-minded people that is saying similar crap, i can see that if you people were a german living in that time you would all be the worst kind of nazis..

      • Exiled Phoenix

        Those that remain silent while others are allowed to suffer are compliant in the horror.I hold no remorse for them. Racism in any people must be purged, sometimes those that “went along” must be condemned as well.

        • Robert Downey

          How are you currently fighting any government policies that you oppose in your country? Should you be condemned to death because a drone strike called a wedding party in Pakistan, because you haven’t stormed any military facilities?

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Innocent people die in every war. That is why we have the term “acceptable collateral damage” Do I feel some sense of sorrow for innocent people that die? Yes. Would I prefer the United States allow drone strikes around the world? Hell Yes!!
            I don’t always agree with our elected officials, but i support keeping the wars in foreign territories instead of our homeland. Acceptable losses to me are 10 foreign nationals to protect 1 of our citizens.

    • Ian Moone

      Not all Nazis were Hitler. These men could have just been following orders and they would have died had they refused. If someone put a gun to your head and said either kill this person or I’m going to kill and torture you what would you do? Would you say say killing someone is wrong I can’t? No. You would do it because people will always try to keep themselves alive before they save someone else.

      • Exiled Phoenix

        Wrong, they had guns as well. You act as if they had no choice. Most became nazi party members before 1939. Fuck them and their weak principles. I am an American. If I were ordered to kill a child, I would disobey the order and disarm and shoot my commanding officer without remorse. Choices are made by the individual. Many people put self preservation aside to assist those in need. Fuck you for being so shallow. I hope one day you are shot like the low life animal you are!

        • Ian Moone

          First off calm down. I don’t think what these men did was okay. But they should have been made POWs and given a fair trial. Since they weren’t this was a war crime. War crimes are never okay.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            They were nazis. If I had been there and seen the heinous crimes committed…. I would have executed them using the gas chambers and not felt a bit of remorse. Sometimes war crimes demand retribution in kind. The only bad thing is more nazis weren’t outright executed. The red army repaid germany to a level I view we should have done to the western part of germany.

          • Ian Moone

            Is what the Nazis did horrible? Yes. Were they disgusting excuses for people? Yes. Did they deserve death? Yes. But if we allow a war crime against anyone (even people that deserve it) what’s to stop other people from thinking war crimes okay?

          • Exiled Phoenix

            What the nazis did were war crimes. What our forces did to them there was not a crime.

          • Ian Moone

            Killing someone who has surrendered is a war crime. According the Geneva Conventions when a soldier surrenders they should be made a POW.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Geneva convention rules were meant for people. The nazis did not qualify as people. Therefore no problem with what happened.

          • Ian Moone

            The Geneva Conventions were meant for countries. The Nazis were the leaders of Germany. Germany is a country.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Germany at that time was not considered a country by the allies. They were belligerents so we carpet bombed their cities to hell, as rightly we needed to. Screw the geneva conventions when heinous crimes are committed. I personally enjoy knowing my grandfather killed nazi soldiers without remorse. He seen some of what those monsters did and felt no regret in checking their aggressive nature. In war things aren’t civilized. As my grampa told me, its always easier to be a monday morning quarterback when you weren’t in the thick of things. You condemn these men when you have no idea what you would’ve done. You should thank each and every one for defeating the most hateful , aggressive regimes in history.

          • Ian Moone

            I actually agree what they did wasn’t wrong. The Nazis were horrible, disgusting excuses for human beings. But we can’t let war crimes go unpunished. If we let this one go what’s to stop other countries from committing them?

          • Robert Downey

            Solve crimes against humanity with more crimes against humanity. I do not blame the soldiers for what they did, it is understandable give the circumstances. However those in command real should have kept stricter control and have not let this happen.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            The Nazi and Japanese regimes were the most violent and oppressive sons of bitches that ever existed. I personally would thank each and every soldier for executing these murderers. I believe we should have used anyone that served as a nazi soldier as slave labor to rebuild Europe. The only nation to truly put them in their place was the U.S.S.R. We should’ve followed their example.

  • elmofuddleputt

    Pfft. My heart’s pumping piss for the monsters. They got what was coming to them.

  • Markharr

    I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same thing, and I certainly don’t blame any of them for doing it. This is especially true for the prisoners.

    • FILOSOFY

      Exactly.

    • Ian Moone

      While I don’t entirely disagree with what you’re saying you have to remember these were just the guards. It’s likely that many of them were against what the Nazis did but were just too terrified to speak up.

      • Victor Potter

        SS guards? No I don’t think so Ian. They knew what they had done.

        • coolidge

          Let say you were conscripted by the Nazi government – which many of the German soldiers were – and you were to speak up against the atrocities you’d witnessed or to go against orders given by your superiors – what do you think would happen to you ? I’m not saying that justify what they did or didn’t do but to claim or insinuate that they were bloodthirsty monsters isn’t that right either.

          • Jonny O

            While there may be some small credence to what you’re saying, what you fail to remember is that the SS were generally not conscripted men not members of the general army. The SS were the absolute Nazi diehards, many of whine had graduated from the Hitler Youth and were long subjected to anti Semite indoctrination. Thus many felt fine regarding their work. The whole “I was just doing my duty” bullshit is a crutch leaned on far too much after the war simply to a kid persecution.

      • NatalieTudorYork

        True, by all means kill those who had the authority to stop the atrocities, but decided not to and revelled in barbarity… to class all Nazi’s as Evil and inhumane really shows an ignorance of the political situation in Germany at that time, The German citizens were living in a totalitarian society, ruled by the ideologies of brutal mad men, conscription wasn’t a choice!, this was a time in which the gestapo were allowed to execute innocent Germans based only on the evidence of whispers… Fear was rife and I’m sure that most of you on here who seem to like to portray the world as Black and White, would see things entirely different if you were ordered to kill under threat of losing your own and in some cases your families lives.
        As I’ve said before execute the ones that enjoyed what they dished out, but at least give trials to those whose guilt is a lot harder to prove, to label everyone the same is clearly not providing an understanding of the way human beings work, we are not all the same.
        The way most people talk on here shows a prejudice that they claim to despise in The Nazis.
        It’s hypocritical to state that the Evil Nazis should die for the horrors they have inflicted and believe in (Believe me they should), but saying that innocent Germans should be beaten to death, shot, massacred etc, makes me think that they too have deep set prejudices rooted from ideaology that tells them to hate and wish death upon the German population.
        tell me this posters, what about members of the Hitler youth, are they Evil?, could you bring yourself to massacre a bunch of children?.

    • Garu Derota

      Of couse one can act ouf ot rage and wish for revenge. This is understandable but should never be accepted. Hatred is not justice.

  • Arakiba

    Good for them. The monsters got what they deserved.

  • Exlibris

    One of my cousins was involved in the liberation and “massacre” of the SS troops. He was a tank driver who ran over a few guards after seeing the condition of the Jewish prisoners. I’m rather proud of him.

  • dubya

    You guys would’ve all done the smae thing if you were in that situation.

    • Ian Moone

      And you would have done the same thing those guards did if you were in their position.

  • Liege_Lord

    Is it just me, or is KnowledgeNuts starting to really accumulate a lot of Nazi sympathizing articles… I’m genuinely starting to get disturbed. The first one about the Nazi prisioner defecting to the allies after being liberated and defending a castle together was intruging, but there needs to be a little more space between these type of articles or its not even subtle.
    Lets go a few weeks without a “the Nazis wern’t all bad, guys!” article…

    • Michael Van Duisen

      I’m not trying to say the Nazis weren’t one of the worst things to happen in the history of the world because it’s painfully obvious they were. What I was trying to show was an event, hopefully not well-known, in which the “good guys” showed that everyone has a capacity for evil. Having said that, I would have done the same thing and the Nazis got what they deserved. (Especially when you realize very few of them served any real jail time.)

      • Liege_Lord

        It’s ok, I wasn’t criticizing the article, it was informative, not well known, and well written. I was just pointing out a theme I noticed, hopefully you can see where my train of throught is coming from. I look forward to more of your articles.

      • Joe

        I never expected the author of the article in the comments. It enjoyed reading it. I already knew that this happened but, I don’t think it’s well known. I forgot most of the details as well. Given the circumstances I’m sure this wasn’t an isolated incident. In any case, I agree with you, I would’ve done the same thing. I can’t imagine what that would have been like to come across such a horrible thing. I hope to see more of your writing.

  • aussieshepherd

    They saved a lot of money and paperwork; the unit should have been given an award!

  • Pyncky

    And we are supposed to care after what they did? I don’t.

  • Bob P

    BOO FUCKING HOO

  • Marcus A. Fish

    I don’t know why the Allied soldiers’ behavior is so surprising or viewed as abnormal. You have to remember by that time in the war most soldiers had spent the past year with the Germans trying to kill them and then they come across the horrors of the concentration camps. Their behavior seems pretty understandable to me. I don’t believe that the death penalty or summary execution is correct or that it deters crime. That being said some acts are so despicable and hideous that killing the perpitraitorers is understandle and dare I say it, justifiable.

  • Frodo28

    I’m okay with this.

  • NatalieTudorYork

    Putting Nazis on trial and PROVING their guilt and then seeing them hang would’ve been the correct thing to do, and if some of them were PROVEN innocent, then jail them for their part… To class and tar everyone with the same brush is not right.
    And if they are guilty letting the whole world know of their atrocious Evil deeds, besmirching their name FOREVER would be just desserts.

  • chairde

    Actually if these SS guards had been tried then there could be less deniers today. Sure they would have been tried for war crimes and then executed and we would have their testimony today. Revenge is always a bad thing. Justice keeps a detailed record for future generations.

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