The photo below shows American soldiers standing at the gate into the Kaufering IV sub-camp of Dachau. The TV series “Band of Brothers” about the 101st Airborne Division recreated this scene in one of the episodes. Episode 9, Why We Fight
The Kaufering IV sub-camp of Dachau was liberated by the 12th Armored Division of the US Seventh Army on April 27, 1945 with help from soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division, who arrived on April 28, 1945. Kaufering IV was one of 11 camps, all named Kaufering and numbered I through XI, which were located near Landsberg am Lech, not far from the city of Munich. Kaufering IV had been designated as the sick camp where prisoners who could no longer work were sent.
There was a typhus epidemic in Germany in 1945 and Kaufering prisoners with typhus were sent to the Kaufering IV camp to die. The Kaufering IV camp was near the town of Hurlach; the camp had previously been called Schwabmünchen.
For the dead prisoners in camp Kaufering IV, there was a special work detail. … The task of this detail was to bury the 20, 25, or 30 people who died each day. Since this was the only possibility for me to get out of the camp, I volunteered for this detail on March 21, the first day of spring. The naked corpses were placed on a hand cart. The gold teeth had already been removed. This was a special task for one of the prisoners- – a dentist. The teeth were broken out of the mouths of the dead people under the supervision of an SS- guard. … The burial detail left the camp every day – 15-20 corpses and more. It was a rule to have as many prisoners on the detail as there were corpses.
– Dr. Norbert Fried (hyperlink defunct)
Albert Gaynes visited Kaufering4/Schwabmunchen two days after it was liberated. He wrote home to his wife about what he saw there. (hyperlink defunct)
I have seen today the full, complete bestiality of what was one of the Nazis horror concentration camps. I saw for myself with my own eyes the ungodly sight. Debbie, I hope that you will never see what I will see until I die.
Our division overran a concentration camp located in the path of our advance. The last town I visited before this location was Augsburg in southern Germany. It has been several days since its capture when I visited it.
The camp is located about 300 yards off a main road. It’s not hidden or out of the way. The shacks resembled the OCS barracks which you saw at Aberdeen – the tar paper ones. But for sleeping quarters the prisoners lived on the dirt floor with nothing but some dirty straw.
But how can I describe the actual inhuman, unbelievable sights.
I saw dead men lying inside of these shacks. I saw them lying in the fields and on the ground.
They were naked. How had they died? They were starved and tortured to death. They were skeletons with skin. Their hideous faces appalled me, but I wandered about almost refusing to believe that I was not dreaming. I saw men with their arms broken into all shapes; men with arms and legs cut off; men with their throats slit; men with their heads cut off; men with their legs twisted and misshapen. I personally saw 50 or 60 of these creatures which once were Human beings. There were some shacks which the Nazis had burned and I saw the charred bodies.
When I had seen all my mind and stomach and heart stand, I left. Others of the company who explored the area found long ditches for graves which were littered with dead bodies which had not even been filled with dirt
What had these men done to warrant being tortured. (They were tortured; not just starved. The arms and legs and countless other mutilations must have been done while the inmates still lived.)
These men had disagreed with the Nazis. They were political prisoners – Jews, communists, liberals, devout Catholics – anyone who had disagreed with the Nazi political philosophy.
I saw these mangled, misshapen, starved bodies being carried to be buried by German civilians at the point of our soldiers guns. These German bastards looked just like the corner delicatessen owner. But they were black inside and their hands are bloody with the guts of humanity.
Don’t ever let another sonofabitch tell you that the rape of Lidice, that the slaughter of 2,000,000 Jews in Poland, that the human furnaces, that the concentration camps you read about are lies. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen the unbelievable. I have seen the depths of depravity to which so called human beings – the nazis – can fall. Debbie it is unbelievable–but, believe me. I have seen It.
I could expound on my observations going into details, but my pen cannot continue. I shall remember what I have seen. I shall never forget it. Whatever is done with the Nazis – leaders and followers cannot repay them for what they have done – unless it is the same torture.
I have read Ilya Erhenberg – the Russian correspondents Communiques on German atrocities and the proposals for reprisals. I had read the smug American newspapers criticism of his suggestions of extermination of Nazis. I thought he was bloodthirsty. But after witnessing what he must have seen I can countenance any acts against the Nazis which he proposes.
My heart is heavy and sad. For the rest of my life I shall have impressed upon me the possibility of another Hitler and his gang of inhumans. They must never be permitted to rise again. We must also recognize the possibility of such individuals gaining control over our own country. The fascists of our own nation – the Coughlins and Smiths and Pilleys and Williams – are capable of the same inhumanities. The Nazis are not the exclusive possessors of warped minds. I will never tolerate the anti-Semite or the fascist. He is dangerous and a potential torturer.
The war has a newer meaning to me – the extermination of Nazism must be accomplished and the recurrence of such a regime must be prevented.
I repeat, my Debbie. It is true – all the horror stories that the Nazis have perpetrated. From what I have seen they are capable of any inhumanity describable. There are none which they would not or could not execute. In all the world’s history this black mark is most, horrible. We are supposed to live in a civilized world. But I have seen the barbarism and cannibalism of a so called civilized nation. Their scientific achievements are dwarfed by their utter lack of _______ . I am lost for words.
All of Germany will soon be occupied. The Nazi regime will have been defeated. But it is the peace to follow which will have to be won. Another Nazi regime or its counter part must be prevented. And I shall do some serious thinking. I must find the solution. And when I do I will do my utmost to see that it succeeds. And you must help me think and act.
Goodnight, Debbie. My heart is heavy. But the knowledge that we are eliminating this scourge on the earth – and quickly – fills me with joy. On the streets of this City I see free Poles, Russians, Jews, Catholics, Mongols, Blacks, French et al. I am proud that I played a part in their freedom.
Do not fear for my feelings or attitude. Despite all the horror I have seen, I am glad that I saw it. I no longer fear that we may do an injustice to the Germans. They are guilty of inhumanity and murder.
I should like to continue writing now, but I will close.
I feel very close to you Debbie. I am happy that you are safe. I feel almost that I have personally saved you and your Mom and our folks and all our relatives from the Nazis because that would have been our fate also.