U.S. Army liberates Dachau concentration camp

On April 29, 1945, the 45th Infantry Division of the Seventh American Army liberated Dachau, the first concentration camp established by the German Nazi regime. A major Dachau subcamp was liberated the same day by the 42nd Rainbow Division.

READ MORE: Dachau Concentration Camp: Facts and Memorial

Created five weeks after Adolf Hitler took power as German chancellor in 1933, Dachau was located on the outskirts of the city of Dachau, about 16 km north-west of Munich. In its first year, the camp detained approximately 5,000 political prisoners, mainly German Communists, Social Democrats and other political opponents of the Nazi regime. Over the next few years, the number of prisoners increased considerably and other groups were interned in Dachau, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals and repeat offenders. From 1938, the Jews began to constitute a large part of the internees of the camps.

Prisoners from Dachau were used as forced labor, initially in the construction and expansion of the camp and later for the production of German armaments. The camp served as a training center for the guards of the SS concentration camps 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. At Dachau, Nazi scientists tested the effects of freezing and changes in air pressure on detainees, infected them with malaria and tuberculosis and treated them with investigational drugs, and forced them to test methods for make seawater drinkable and to stop excessive bleeding. Hundreds of prisoners have died or been crippled as a result of these experiences.

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