April 29, 1945
US Army liberates thousands from Dachau Nazi concentration camp. Photo credit: History101.com
American Soldiers Liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany.
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. Established five weeks 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. During its first year, the camp held about 5,000 political prisoners, consisting primarily of German communists, Social Democrats, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime. During the next few years, the number of prisoners grew dramatically, and other groups were interned at Dachau, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals and repeat criminals. Beginning in 1938, Jews began to comprise a major portion of camp internees.
Prisoners at Dachau were used as forced laborers, initially in the construction and expansion of the camp and later for German armaments production. The camp served as the training center for SS concentration camp guards and was a model for other Nazi concentration camps. Dachau was also the first Nazi camp to use prisoners as human guinea pigs in medical experiments.