History of the Liberation of Dachau: 75 Years Ago — a Personal Reflection

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Rainbow Division Plaque, Dachau Gatehouse

Impact

Dachau had been the first “concentration camp,” established in March 1933 near Munich, Germany. During its 12 years of operation, over 200,000 prisoners entered its gates. At first, Dachau held only political prisoners, but over time, more groups were imprisoned there. Unlike the later camp Auschwitz, it was not a “death camp” but instead was a work camp for slave labor, initially at a munition factory.

Death

Nevertheless, 32,000 died at Dachau from starvation, maltreatment, and disease. Half of that number died in the last five months of the war as prisoners were moved from outlying concentration camps to more central ones like Dachau. By the time of the liberation, 200 prisoners a day were dying. And these counts include only the documented deaths.

Legacy

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Staff Sgt. John Petro

A Modern Visit to Dachau

When I visited Dachau almost two decades ago, I mentioned to the tour guides who worked in various sections of the museum that my father had been among the liberators. Every one of them asked me the same question: “Do you have pictures?”

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Shipping out
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Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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