The Dachau

Until May 1, 1945, I had never heard of a place called Dachau.

After that date more than a half-century ago, I’ve never been able to forget it... Not that anyone should -- ever.

Dachau, as we later learned, was Hitler’s first concentration camp which took its name from a nearby town 12 miles from Munich. Only a few days earlier, our troops had taken important cities in the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, Nuremberg and Munich.

On this May Day morning quite unexpectedly I became part of a hastily-organized contingent of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division which had fought its way deep into Germany from NorthAfrica via Sicily, Italy, Anzio and Southern France.

None of us knew what this hurry-up mission was about. But since representatives of other attached units were included, I speculated that it might have something to do with our Division newspaper to which I had contributed stories involving men of our ack-ack battalion.

As it soon turned out, no special talents or orientation were required, only eyes to see -- Dachau, with its dead, dying, and living skeletons.

Until Allied forces had begun to overrun concentration camps, not much was known about them, certainly not at the ordinary GIs (my) level. Regardless of what anyone may have known, or suspected, about the camps, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of Dachau.

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