30 April 1945 Liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp
On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Seventh Army’s 45th Infantry Division liberated Dachau Concentration Camp which was the first camp established by the Nazi regime. A major Dachau subcamp was liberated the same day by the 42nd Rainbow Division.
Established shortly after Adolf Hitler took power as German chancellor in 1933, Dachau was situated on the outskirts of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich.
With the advance of Allied forces against Germany in April 1945, the Germans transferred prisoners from camps near the front to Dachau, leading to a deterioration of conditions and typhus epidemics. On April 27, 1945, approximately 7,000 prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to begin a death march from Dachau to Tegernsee, to the south. The next day, many of the SS guards abandoned the camp. On April 29, the Dachau main camp was liberated by units of the 45th Infantry after a brief battle with the camp’s remaining guards.
As they neared the camp, the Americans found more than 30 railroad cars filled with bodies in various states of decomposition. Inside the camp there were more bodies and 30,000 survivors, most severely emaciated. Some of the American troops who liberated Dachau were so appalled by conditions at the camp that they machine-gunned at least two groups of captured German guards. It is officially reported that 30 SS guards were killed, but others have suggested that more than 10 times that number were executed. The German citizens of the town of Dachau were later forced to bury the 9,000 dead inmates found at the camp.