Monday, April 27, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (26): A LIberating Unit

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

According to the US Holocaust Museum:
 As it [The Tenth Armored] drove into the heartland of Bavaria, the "Tiger" division overran one of the many subcamps of Dachau in the Landsberg area on April 27, 1945.

The 10th Armored Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the US Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.
It seems there were six camps in the Landsberg area. First, some of what  is reported at Wikipedia:
The American forces allowed news media to record the atrocities, and ordered local German civilians and guards to reflect upon the dead and bury them bare-handed. After the liberation of the camp it became a displaced person camp. Consisting primarily of Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union and the Baltic states, it developed into one of the most influential DP camps in the Sh'erit ha-Pletah. It housed a Yiddish newspaper (the Yiddishe Zeitung), religious schools, and organizations to promote Jewish religious observance. Tony Bennett was one of the soldiers who liberated the camp.
I gather that the 103rd Infantry Division was one of the major units. Here's some of their report:
From REPORT AFTER ACTION: The Story of the 103D Infantry Division, pp. 131-135

At Landsberg the men of the 103d Infantry Division discovered what they had been fighting against. They found six concentration camps where victims of the super race had died by the thousands of atrocities, starvation, and exposure. The grounds of the camp were littered with the skeletonized bodies of Jews, Poles, Russians, French, and un-Nazified Germans. Every evidence was that they were only the latest of untold thousands who had suffered and died in these six concentration camps, a few among the hundreds which dotted Grossdeutschland. German civilians who were forced by the 411th guards to pick up these wasted bodies for decent burial sniveled that they had not known such things existed. They had not known, yet they had spent their lives in this town of 30,000 which was ringed by six horror camps.
The 103rd, it should be noted, was, along with the 44th Infantry and the Tenth Armored, working together on a combined spearhead, the Tenth's armor leading the way.

U.S. Soldier at Gate of Landsberg. USHM

Some videos are archived at the US Holocaust Museum. Here's a link to one of them.

From all I can find, it would appear that my Dad's company was most likely with CC B during this time and in all probability was not part of the liberation of the camp. I wouldn't be surprised, however, that when the Division was reunited all kinds of stories were shared. It is possible however that he was with CC R, the reserve command, which was near Landsberg during this time.

Nichols, interestingly, does not appear to discuss the concentration camp liberation in Impact. He does relate a story of liberating a POW camp where some former Tigers were held following Bastogne. I may continue to explore this. With my Dad married to a Jewish woman from Brooklyn, I would venture a guess that he may have had some interest in this.

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