The Horrific Holocaust

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

The Horrific Holocaust

Close to the end of World War II, the 45th infantry division of the US Army was given the order to take over a small city in the South of Germany. Lieutenant Colonel Felix Sparks, the commander of the division, sent a group of his troops to a Nazi concentration camp alongside the railway upon entering the town. The name of the camp and the town was Dachau.

What Sparks saw that morning would soon haunt the conscience of the whole world. Thousands of people were lying dead or dying. The German troops remaining in Dachau was scattered without a fight. The men of the 45th divisions entered the camp horrified by the smell of human flesh that hung in the air. "The scene near the entrance to the confinement area numbed my senses," Sparks later told historians. "Dante's inferno seemed pale compared to the real hell of Dachau."

Dachau was the first concentration camp Adolf Hitler opened shortly after taking power of Germany in 1933. It was a gruesome example of what was going on elsewhere in Germany and Europe. In the beginning the camp held opponents of the Nazi regime prisoner, but during the war the Nazi's held their own citizens prisoner simply for being Jewish. More than 30 000 people were murdered at Dachau as time passed, a shocking total but still just a fraction of the six million Jews murdered across Europe during the Nazi Holocaust. The infamous gas chambers at Auschwitz, which was a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, accounted for more than one million deaths.

The full impact of German brutality only became clear once British, American, and Soviet armies began to free Nazi concentration camps in the spring of 1945. In an attempt to bring about 'ethnic purity', Hitler and his henchman ordered the extermination of the whole Jewish population in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. The camps were also responsible for murdering thousands of Gypsies, Poles, gays, and political opponents. When the war was over the allies captured and killed several German officials who was responsible for the massive genocide in Europe.

Interesting facts:

  1. A few of Sparks' troops were so outraged at what they saw when they first entered the concentration camp at Dachau, that they started executing the camps guards on sight. The American soldiers were court-martialed, but the prosecution was stopped at the order of George S. Patton.
  2. Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, escaped from Europe following the postwar chaos and wasn't caught until 1960 in Argentina. He was tried and convicted for crimes against humanity and hanged in Israel in 1962.
  3. Despite their efforts, the Allies never punished most of the participants in the Holocaust. Of the 7000 troops that served at Auschwitz, only 800 were put on trial for example.


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