dachau concentration camp liberation

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Holocaust survivor salutes American soldier who liberated him from Nazi concentration camp hell in emotional reunion after 70 years

Repost of 2015 story.

This is the poignant moment when a man rescued from the hell he endured at the hands of the Nazis met his saviour and gave him a salute almost 70 years later.

Joshua Kaufman first saluted his rescuer Daniel Gillespie. Then he kissed his hand and finally, he fell to his feet, exclaiming: ‘I have wanted to do this for 70 years. I love you, I love you so much…’.

Kaufman, now 87, was a ‘walking corpse’ on April 29 1945 when U.S. Army soldier Gillespie, 89, marched in with his comrades to liberate the charnel house that was the Dachau concentration camp near Munich.

By the time it was liberated more than 35,000 people had been murdered there - in executions, in cruel medical experiments, starved, worked and beaten to death.

The first person he saw was Hungarian Jewish prisoner Kaufman. He was hiding in the latrines with other prisoners, uncertain if the soldiers who arrived were liberators or a Nazi death squad sent to liquidate the camp.

'We were confined to barracks by the guards. This meant most of us were marked for death,’ Mr Kaufman said.

'Then I saw the white flag flying from the watchtower and I realised then that the torture was at an end. When the Americans smashed in the door, my heart did somersaults.’

Gillespie helped the emaciated prisoner into the daylight and back into the land of the living. Both parted with tears in their eyes - both believed they would never see one another again.

read here

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John Lee’s comrades, the men of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry (45th Div.), had seen hard combat. They had fought from North Africa through Italy, France and on into Germany, in 511 days of continuous and exhausting combat.

Ordered on April 29, 1945, to secure a local prison camp, they scaled a masonry wall to find 36 railroad boxcars of rotting corpses, inmates who had been sent to Dachau from other death camps and allowed to starve.

It was overcast and chilly as Lee, 19, and the others cautiously advanced beneath tall pines, finding more stacks of bodies and atrocities of which some still cannot speak.

By the time they began rounding up the prison guards, amid the roaring of 32,000 gaunt and sickly inmates still living, the men of I Company were “boiling mad, half out of our minds,” one soldier said later.

“I looked at the bodies as we went past - their open eyes seemed to say, ‘What took you so long?’” said Lee, now a frail 75 year old and living in West Lake, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.

“There was a deathly silence. Somebody blurted out, 'No prisoners’ We lined up the SS guards. One of the guys cocked the machine gun. The Germans started moving and somebody shouted 'Fire!’

"To this day I do not know who that was,” Lee said.

Army investigators later summoned Lee and others to gather statements and other evidence of that day, including photographs taken by an Army photographer showing the bodies of the SS guards piled up against the wall.

Their secret report, quietly declassified in 1991, details several similar incidents at Dachau. A lieutenant ordered four German soldiers into an empty boxcar and personally shot them. Another American soldier clubbed and shot those still moaning. Several GIs turned their backs on two inmates beating a German guard to death with a shovel. One of the inmates had been castrated by the German they were murdering.

Their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, said, “It was one of those situations I was unable to control for a short time.”

The report was sent to Gen. George Patton, commanding the 3rd Army. No action was taken. Among veterans of the 157th regiment, legend has it that Patton threw the report in his wastebasket, tossed in a match and barked at the investigators: “Get the hell out of here!” But a copy made its way to the National Archives.

“Nobody’s really proud of doing something like that,” Lee says today. “The Army trained you to fight. It did not train you for the psychological shock.”

- David Wood

photographs show the first American soldiers entering the camp and soldiers viewing the bodies of inmates in a boxcar

US Army Captain stares at the door to the gas chamber at Dachau concentration camp after its liberation in APR 1945.  The German legend on the door reads,”Caution! Gas! Risk of death. Do not open”.

swallows still sing by icoulddothisallday 

for the Stucky Big Bang, @thestuckylibrary-bigbang

Rating: M

Archive Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence  

Words: 54k

Relationships: Steve Rogers & Bucky Barnes 

Tags: Holocaust, Period Typical Attitudes, Religious Themes, Jewish Bucky Barnes, Bucky Barnes Recovering, Medical Experimentation, Loss of Limb, Family Separation, Death of a Family Member, PTSD

Summary: 

They move through the doorway and the sun hits Bucky’s face. His eyes flinch closed involuntarily, but the warmth on his face is more than enough. There’s a breeze too, the freshest air Bucky has breathed in months. It’s chaos outside, a clamor of voices in languages both familiar and foreign. Bucky is glad to ignore it, glad to trust that the Captain will take him to safety. He dares to open his eyes. Everything is fuzzy around the edges, like a waking dream.

On April 29th, 1945, US forces liberate the concentration camp Dachau. But Captain Steve Rogers and his Howling Commandos have a more specific mission - the rescue and rehabilitation of prisoners experimented on by Arnim Zola, among them, a man named Bucky.

In light of recent events in Charlottesville and the political climate of the US right now, I want to quote Elie Weisel, a Holocaust survivor who told us, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Art by @stuckypocketguide  

Marguerite Higgins (1920-1966) was a journalist and reporter who made a successful career as a war correspondent, and considerably advanced gender equality in the field. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Correspondence, for her reporting on the Korean War in 1951. 

While working for the New York Herald Tribune, she persuaded the management to send her to Europe in order to report on the Second World War. She witnessed and even assisted in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in 1945. Other important events she covered were the Nuremberg trials and the Soviet Union’s blockade of Berlin. While it was widely believed that women do not belong in a war zone, her work proved that they are just as capable of the job despite the dangers involved.

FIC REC: Swallows Still Sing

I want to recommend one of the best fics I’ve read in a long time.

It’s a Stucky fic and a Holocaust AU; Swallows Still Sing by @icoulddthisallday

It’s beautifully written, with incredible art by @stuckypocketguide

In 1945, Captain America helps liberate the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau. His mission is to rescue those prisoners who were experimented on by Arnim Zola, among them, Bucky Barnes, a German Jew.

As a Jew, as someone who saw that hated Nazi flag being waved in Charlottesville in August and recoiled while my insides shriveled up in horror, as someone who was raised to “never forget,” as someone for whom Holocaust films were required viewing in high school, the subject matter reaches into my soul. As a Stucky fan, I get to see my two favorite Marvel characters, Steve and Bucky, embody themes of healing, religious faith and love.

You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate this fic. You just need to have a heart. Also have tissues handy.

During World War II some of Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers enlisted not to fight, but to film combat. These short documentaries (commissioned by the War Department) were intended to show Americans what was at stake and stir up patriotic feelings.

Today author Mark Harristells us about this groundbreaking footage by John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra.

George Stevens’ chronicles of the liberation at the concentration camp Dachau was used as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials:

“What [Director George] Stevens filmed at Dachau was so painful that he didn’t talk about it for decades afterwards. But what we think of now as some of the images of Holocaust atrocity that are burned into our collective consciousness — that’s what Stevens saw: bodies in boxcars; starving, dying, skeletal people; bodies covered in snow; body parts; crematoria.

The worst things that we know of what the Nazis did in the death camps and the concentration camps were news to Stevens and his men, and of course to America when he discovered them. Imagine walking into Dachau not knowing what a death camp was and seeing what he saw. So he did the only thing that he could do, which was to record it. At that point, he was no longer interested in making a documentary, what he was doing and what he knew he was doing from the first hour that he was there was gathering evidence.”

Harris’ book is called Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World War

An entrance gate with the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Brings Freedom”) at Dachau concentration camp. photo via History cred Ted Horowitz/Corbis

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Holocaust survivor salutes American soldier who liberated him from Nazi concentration camp hell in emotional reunion after 70 years

This is the poignant moment when a man rescued from the hell he endured at the hands of the Nazis met his saviour and gave him a salute almost 70 years later.

Joshua Kaufman first saluted his rescuer Daniel Gillespie. Then he kissed his hand and finally, he fell to his feet, exclaiming: ‘I have wanted to do this for 70 years. I love you, I love you so much…’.

Kaufman, now 87, was a 'walking corpse’ on April 29 1945 when U.S. Army soldier Gillespie, 89, marched in with his comrades to liberate the charnel house that was the Dachau concentration camp near Munich.

By the time it was liberated more than 35,000 people had been murdered there - in executions, in cruel medical experiments, starved, worked and beaten to death.

The first person he saw was Hungarian Jewish prisoner Kaufman. He was hiding in the latrines with other prisoners, uncertain if the soldiers who arrived were liberators or a Nazi death squad sent to liquidate the camp.

'We were confined to barracks by the guards. This meant most of us were marked for death,’ Mr Kaufman said. 

'Then I saw the white flag flying from the watchtower and I realised then that the torture was at an end. When the Americans smashed in the door, my heart did somersaults.’

Gillespie helped the emaciated prisoner into the daylight and back into the land of the living. Both parted with tears in their eyes - both believed they would never see one another again.

read here

Two Dachau inmates preparing to kill a fallen SS guard with a shovel. In the background rows of machine gunned German guards can be seen lying in piles along the base of the hospital wall. A large hospital building can be seen above right.

Several GIs turned their backs on two inmates beating a German guard to death with a shovel. It was said that one of the inmates had been castrated by the German they were murdering.” -  A documentary - U.S. Massacre of Waffen SS - April 29, 1945

(Photographer unknown, probably T/4 Arland B. Musser, US Signal Corps. Reproduced from “Day of the Americans” by Nerin Gun)

*The man holding the shovel is the same man with the rifle in this photo

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“You have, by this time, received a letter mentioning that I am quartered in the concentration camp at Dachau…It is easy to read about atrocities, but they must be seen before they can be believed.”

Letter to Rev. and Mrs. D. H. Porter, 5/7/1945; Collection DDE-1430: World War II Participants and Contemporaries Collection; Dwight D. Eisenhower Library; National Archives Identifier: 1055429 

The Liberation of Dachau, Seventy Years Ago Today

On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Seventh Army’s 45th Infantry Division liberated Dachau, the first concentration camp established by Germany’s Nazi regime.

Using stationery found in the abandoned office of the camp commandant, Pfc. Harold Porter, a medic with the 116th Evacuation Hospital, found himself at a loss to convey the horrors he encountered at the Dachau concentration camp. His account is unsparing and graphic. Days after entering the camp, he was still trying to grasp the reality of what he saw.

via National Archives Education on Facebook