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Dachau - General Patton -IG Investigation

Updated on May 1, 2014
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Theresa Ast, PhD in Modern European History, has taught at Reinhardt University for 25 years. "Confronting the Holocaust" @ AMAZON Books.

Conflict in the European Theater


The Inspector General Investigation and Report

A military research analyst mentioned that an Inspector General (IG) Investigation had been conducted at Dachau and suggested that documentary proof would be located in the military records held in the National Archives. A search of military records at the Washington National Research Center in 1992 was disappointing in the extreme.

A labeled file folder for the Dachau investigation was produced, but it was empty. Personnel at WNRC had no explanation. In May 1993, an authorized and declassified copy of the original 7th Army IG Investigation Report, running in excess of 120 typed pages, surfaced.[i]

The 7th Army IG Report confirms that an irregular action of some sort occurred at Dachau, that a thorough investigation was conducted, and that the report was passed forward to 7th Army Headquarters for resolution.[ii]

45th Infantry Division Inside Dachau

The situation at Dachau developed as follows.[iii] Many of the men of the 45th Infantry Division, prior to entering the inmate compound, passed by a train of 40 or more box cars laden with unarmed civilians who had been summarily shot and left to die. A brief firefight ensued inside the camp and a number of German guards were captured and relieved of their weapons.[iv]

Lieutenant William Walsh segregated those identified as SS troops from the remainder of the captured German guards. They were subsequently marched into another enclosure and lined up against a wall preparatory to moving them out of the compound, and Lieutenant Walsh ordered a machine gun set up to guard the SS prisoners. There was sudden unexpected movement on one flank of the prisoner line and firing commenced, with several GIs and NCOs participating.

The weapons used included a light machine gun, a BAR, carbines, and possibly a pistol or sub machine gun. Seventeen prisoners were killed and an undetermined number wounded. Testimony within the IG Report varies as to the nature of the incident. Some witnesses believe the SS prisoners were executed; others are convinced that the shooting was a combination of exhaustion, fear, and threatening movement among the SS.[v]

As the completed IG Report passed through command levels en route to 7th Army Headquarters a number of comments and addenda were attached. One pointed out ameliorating circumstances; another called for the trial by military court-martial on a charge of murder, for four of the soldiers involved at Dachau.[vi] T

Colonel Sparks and General Patton

The IG Report was passed from 7th to 3rd Army after the 45th Infantry Division was reassigned to 3rd Army Command. Colonel Felix Sparks who commanded a battalion of the 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry Division was required to appear before General George Patton to discuss a pending court-martial. General Patton considered the charges ridiculous and destroyed the files on Colonel Sparks and several of his men.

It appears that other copies of the documents were destroyed and no further action taken. And that many of the participants agreed to adhere to a non-disclosure policy for mutual protection.[vii]

The evidence for the changing attitudes of GIs can be found in the treatment of captured enemy soldiers. Sergeant Parker recounted the actions of his platoon at Dachau. "Our people were so infuriated by the whole what they saw...when my platoon got to these guys, they butted them with rifles and I stood by and watched."[viii]

German prisoners were also beaten with rubber truncheons, prodded with bayonet tips, and beaten with knotted ropes.[ix] Numerous witnesses report that captured enemy soldiers were often severely beaten by American servicemen.[x] Some of the abuse directed at German soldiers was more calculated and did not involve physical blows. John Manning and his men intentionally gave prisoners poor quality blankets and refused to utilize American stores of food to feed the prisoners.

Mauthausen and Woebbelin Camps

When a German doctor complained that food rations were too meager Manning instructed the cook to add forty gallons of water to thin down the soup. Similar situations existed at Mauthausen and Woebbelin camps, where American soldiers took a grim satisfaction in providing the most meager of rations to their captives. All these men considered their behavior just and reasonable in light of the terrible manner in which concentration camp inmates had been systematically and brutally starved.[xi]

Some soldiers vented their rage after the war ended by devoting all their energy to tracking down those Wehrmacht and SS troops that were in hiding and bringing them to justice. Their own words reveal the intensity of their commitment. "I wanted to catch as many of those bastards as I could." I helped ransack residences looking for guards, looking for that tattoo." I fought my own private war."[xii]

American soldiers considered it justice to allow, and at times to assist, camp inmates in beating and killing German guards and SS troops. Apparently it was not uncommon for U.S. servicemen to disregard disturbances and conflicts that involved camp survivors and unarmed German military personnel. Some GIs watched, others walked away making no attempt to interfere with the attacks.[xiii] As Combat Engineer Allen stated, "We thought the survivors were entitled."[xiv]

U.S. Army Soldiers Losing Control

Lieutenant Hallett observed U.S. soldiers, grief stricken and out of control because of what they had witnessed inside the camps, deliberately wounding German captives and then releasing them to the survivors for punishment.[xv]

There are also reports that GIs handed their weapons to camp inmates to enable them to kill their German captors. William Kamman remembers "giving weapons to all the refugees and saying `Here, you go find them,'" then continuing on.[xvi]

There are only two other situations that incensed American troops to the degree the concentration camps did. GIs were inclined to shoot surrendered enemy troops if they had just witnessed a close friend or buddy die.[xvii]

And many front line soldiers sense of balance and fair play disappeared after reports circulated about the massacre of American GIs at Malmedy. As with the concentration camps, the unofficial word was passed to take no more prisoners.[xviii]

Certainly not all American soldiers disregarded the regulations of the Geneva Convention, but many did. Liberating the concentration camps and viewing the masses of starving, diseased, and abused inmates was clearly more than some soldiers could handle with equanimity or restraint. The extreme emotionality and use of excessive, even deadly force were temporary reactions.

No body of evidence exists, and veterans themselves do not indicate, any long term difficulties with violence after returning to their families and the civilian life they had left behind. Their intense reactions in 1945 can serve to convey some measure of the nightmare quality of the camps to those of us who were not there.


End Notes ~~ Citations

[i]. "Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau," made by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph M. Whitaker, IGD, Investigating Officer, to Headquarters Seventh Army, Office of the Inspector General, June 1945.

This document was declassified per Executive Order 12356, Sec. 3.3 at the Washington National Research Center, which was a branch of the National Archive and Records Administration in Washington, DC on 7 February 1945. As of that date these documents were located in Box 226, Record Group 338, 7th U.S. Army IG Reports.

Lieutenant Colonel Hugh F. Foster, a military research specialist, made the document available. I consulted him about concentration camp research while at the United States Army Military History Institute in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. It is my conviction that Colonel Foster did not remove the document from WNRC; he made the documents available and placed no restrictions whatsoever upon their use in subsequent publications.

[ii]. The IG Report sent to Headquarters contained a transcript of all forty-one (41) interrogations, a summary of events, and several cover letters from officers in the chain of command making recommendations and citing extenuating circumstances, etcetera.

[iii]. This simplified schematic of the events at Dachau is based primarily on the IG Report interrogations. The following official statement was read to each of the men interrogated. "I must admonish you that the 24th Article of War does not permit you to tell a lie. If you feel that an answer might tend to incriminate you, you are privileged to refuse to answer such a question, but you are bound under your oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and telling a falsehood constitutes perjury and is a serious court-martial offense."

[iv]. Private Fred Randolph (Co I, 157th Regiment) IG Report, p. 8; Official Summary, 7th Army IG Report; Lieutenant Colonel Hugh F. Foster, "Summary of the 7th Army IG Interrogation Documents," May 1992, p. 3, (hereafter cited as Foster, IG Summary); Lieutenant Colonel Walter Fellenz (Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 222nd Infantry, 42nd Infantry Division), "Impressions of the Dachau Concentration Camp," (The Journal of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, 1978), pp. 1-4.

[v]. Foster, IG Summary, pp. 3-5; Official Summary, 7th Army IG Report, p.1; all the following references are from the interrogations of the 7th Army IG Investigation Report:

Lieutenant Daniel Drain (Co M, 157th Regiment), pp. 2, 33,

Private William Curtin (Co M, 157th Regiment), pp. 41-42,

Lieutenant Jack Busheyhead (Co I, 157th Regiment), pp. 21-24,

T/3 Henry Wells (HQ, Military Intelligence, ETO), p. 2,

PFC Frank Eggert (HQ 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment), p. 46,

Lieutenant Harold Mayer (HQ 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment), p. 110,

Lieutenant Howard Beuchner (Surgeon, 3rd Battalion, 157th Regiment), p. 44; Official Summary, 7th Army IG Report, p. 2.

[vi]. From Colonel William Craig, Acting Chief of Staff 7th Army, Memorandum to the Inspector General, 18 June 1945, copy forwarded to the Commanding General of the 3rd Army:

" the opinion of the undersigned, Lieutenant Walsh would have been guilty of neglect had he not segregated the SS troops and taken the added precaution of mounting a machine gun or taken some such other additional security measure to guard the SS troops."

"..our experience with SS troops would indicate that 3 riflemen are not capable of adequately guarding approximately 100 troops of this fanatical type. It is probable that the German prisoners in this instance misinterpreted the setting up of the machine gun and attempted to make a break, and, as a result were properly fired upon."

"This investigation indicates an apparent lack of comprehension on the part of the investigating officer of the normal disorganization of small unit combat action and of the unbalancing effect of the horrors and shock of Dachau on combat troops already fatigued with more than 30 days continuous combat action.."

"The investigation indicates further an apparent attempt to accentuate testimony unfavorable to the is recommended that circumstances surrounding the ..shooting of the German reinvestigated."

Judge Advocate, Headquarters, 7th Army, IG Report Recommendations, 9 June 1945, forwarded to the Commanding General of the 3rd Army:

"In my opinion the evidence as shown by the report of the Inspector General will sustain a charge of murder against Lieutenant Walsh, Lieutenant Busheyhead, T/3 Henry Wells, and Private Albert Pruitt..I recommend [they] be tried by general court-martial for murder."

[vii]. Foster, IG Summary, pp. 1-9; Felix L Sparks, "Dachau and its Liberation," Monograph No. 14, pp. 24-28.

[viii]. Tech Sergeant Leonard Parker, p. 5, JCRC; 1st Lieutenant Jesse Lafoon, p. 6, Emory.

[ix]. Lieutenant Leo Pine, p. 16, Emory; Robert Hollis and Han Hogerzeil, Straight On: Journey to Belsen and the Road Home, (London: Metheune & Co. Ltd., 1947), p. 51; George Wehmoff, p. 22, Emory.

[x]. Thomas R. Brush, letter to Kay, 5 May 1945, Army Letters, 1943-1946, 42nd Infantry Division, MHI; Lewis Greene, pp. 11-12, Staff Sergeant Howard Wiseburg, p. 16, Sergeant William Scott, Emory; Combat Correspondent Harry Abrams, Gratz; Lieutenant William Walsh in Strong, Liberation of KZ Dachau; Private Serges Narsay, HMFI; Thomas Rourke, DMC; Staff Sergeant Lemoin Vaughn (80th Infantry Division), p. 13, Corporal Paul Piccard (97th Infantry Division), p. 13, Survey, MHI.

[xi]. John Manning, DMC; Raymond Buch, USHMM; Dr. Samuel Glasshow, p. 11, Emory.

[xii]. David Campbell, p. 7, Emory; Henry Plitt, USHMM; H.D. Stoneking, DMC; Corporal Fred Bohm, p. 7, Emory.

[xiii]. Paul Gumz, p. 5, Jesse Lafoon, p. 7, Emory; Milton Pincus (Military Government), Gratz; Staff Sergeant Theodore Pohrte', DMC; John Lee in Strong, Liberation of KZ Dachau; Marcus J. Smith, The Harrowing of Hell, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1972), p. 132.

[xiv]. Harry Allen, p. 4, Emory.

[xv]. 2nd Lieutenant Jack Hallett, p. 8, Emory.

[xvi]. Arnold Miller, Gratz; PFC George Ricketts, p. 4, Emory; William Kamman, p. 3, JCRC.

[xvii]. Staff Sergeant Ray Offerman (103rd Infantry Division), in Stannard, Infantry, p. 252; Staff Sergeant Rex Whitehead (99th Infantry Division), p. 13, Major Kenneth Lambert (89th Infantry Division), p. 13, Survey, MHI; PFC Olvis Day, p. 26, Q-Ast; Robert Gravlin, Third Armored, p. 25.

[xviii]. Robert Zimmer, USHMM; Gravlin, Third Armored, p. 25; Lieutenant Colonel Earl Smart (99th Infantry Division), p. 13, Private Carthell Atkins (89th Infantry Division), p. 13, Staff Sergeant Rex Whitehead (99th Infantry Division), p. 13, PFC Byron Reburn (99th Infantry Division), p. 11, Survey, MHI.


Your Comments Are Welcome and Appreciated

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    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hello ziyena - Once I began in depth research in this time period while I was in graduate school, I was often surprised by things I discovered in the primary sources that had often never been written about.publicly. The Inspector General Investigation Report was one of those discoveries. Thank you for reading and voting. I appreciate your comments.

    • ziyena profile image


      7 years ago from the United States

      "American soldiers considered it justice to allow, and at times to assist, camp inmates in beating and killing German guards and SS troops."

      Never knew about this side of the war ... Thanks

      Very informative Hub ... voted up & interesting

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Suzette - Like you, I think it was wrong, but I can understand their dismay and fury at what they found. Not really sure what I would have done. It was a terrible chapter in history. Hope you are having a good week. Theresa

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      7 years ago from Taos, NM

      Theresa, Good hub. I had heard of this incident before. Although, I don't agree with what our soldiers did, I can understand why they behaved that way. Had I been in their shoes would I have done the same? I like to say I would take the high road, but after seeing the horrors of Dachau, I just don't know for sure. This is a sad chapter that is closed now, but thank you for writing about it.

    • 34th Bomb Group profile image

      34th Bomb Group 

      8 years ago from Western New York State

      Well done you - on possibly the worst subject ever. The Holocaust became my avocation when I was about 10 and I'm still at it. My parents weren't overly thrilled with my choices in books every week but they didn't stop me. (My Mom dropped me off at the Library then ran her errands and, later, came back for me. Couldn't do that now!)

      My Dad was in the 8th Air Force (no kidding, Patti) so his participation was limited to food drops and a few trips repatriating DP's. When I was in my teens he told me about those trips to return Jews to their homes. Not pretty. They were all, of course, emaciated and filthy. They deloused the plane after every trip. They also deloused themselves after every trip. The food drops over Holland were the best.

      Schweinfurt was the worst.

      The German public knew. Period.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you. And thank you for reading and commenting. :)

    • profile image

      mours sshields 

      8 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Very interesting and well-written!!

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You are absolutely right. As much as I have loved my research area ever since graduate school, it is difficult to focus on it all the time. I remember when I finished my 300+ dissertation 15 years ago, I didn't think I would ever want to return to the same subject area. So I concentrated on teaching, but about five years later I found myself returning to the subject and my piles of research material and writing a 10-20 pp conference paper every summer or so.

      Now doing shorter pieces for HP suits me just right. I also offer either a German Hitory or a Holocaust history course once a year every year. So that is about as much "heavy" emphasis as I can handle, although I do think it is such an important area of study.

      Thanks again for your comments and encouragement.fine

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I imagine that writing on this topic would require some spaces of lighter writing at any time of year. Just reading it requires an emotional objectivity to keep us from becoming overwhelmed. So glad you are going to continue on this subject--it's important. Glad to be following your work!

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you for continuing to follow. I, too think the comments have been pretty amazing and in many cases helpful. I think I will eventually have 6-8 more hubs on this subject, but they take some real time and concentration, so I have been doing some "lighter" Hubs since I am in the middle of my teaching year. Thanks again for your comments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The whole truth, and nothing but the truth--what a statement about such events. Thank you again for sharing your work. The comments will continue to be worth following.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Natasha - I appreciate your generous comment. I am always pleased to meet another "history person." You probably already know that you happened across the third part in a series. If you have time check out the first two and then I did a four part series on the GI's and German Civilians. I look forward to reading some of your Hubs. :)

    • Natashalh profile image


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you for the illuminating, well-documented article. My undergrad degree is in modern European history, but I learned things from your hub.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      ahorseback - You did come back and I appreciate it! :) So your father was one of those soldiers who saw the very worst of the worst. I will never forget the many veterans who told me that "seeing war wounded and dead was bad, very hard, but witnessing the atrocities, starvation, cruelty, and devastation of the camps was for more terrible and hard to deal with."

      I have never heard about the "Red Ball" truck drivers before. I wonder if anyone has done any work on them and their situations. Can you imagine being given those orders? I can not.

      You wrote, "The entire era was so different from today's. Can we believe we can judge our Fathers for what they had to do? I can't and don't!"

      I am in total agreement with you on that. That is one reason I wrote about the Dachau incident. Too many people don't know what our soldier s suffered or how they suffered and we certainly have no right to judge! None at all.

      I never came across any testimony about dogs feeding on the dead, but there are thousands of pages of testimony I never got to read. And perhaps because many of them probably returned to households where they had pet dogs, they simply didn't say anything. What a horrifying and unnerving experience that must have been.

      When people try to judge the actions of our fathers who went to war in a world beyond anything we can imagine, I think the word that comes to my mind more than arrogant. How incredibly arrogant and conceited and blind for anyone who was not there to comment on the actions and behaviors of those who were. I frankly, don't understand people like that.

      Thank you so much for your encouraging and affirming comments. This research was and always will be close to my heart.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Shea- Thanks for reading and for the comments. Thinking about what you wrote...and the last phrase that you quoted.

      "No body of evidence exists, and veterans themselves do not indicate, any long term difficulties with violence after returning to their families and the civilian life they had left behind."

      I found no evidence that they remained angry, punitive or emotionally explosive, but a substantial number of them did suffer terribly from what they had endured and had various symptoms that today we would classify as PTSD for the rest of their lives.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Kathleen- Thanks for your comments. Today was a good day. :)

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hello ahorseback- I was out of the house all day today or I would have responded to you sooner. Thank you. It means a great deal to me when someone recognizes the research effort involved in the WW II Hubs. Not sure which "implications and investigative intent" confused you, but I look forward to corresponding and perhaps shedding some light on how I approached this topic.

      Perhaps it will help if I mention that my father was career Air Force, and I have a grandfather, uncle, and brother who served in the army. I think most civilians do not appreciate what our service men and women do for our country, for us, us and do not fully understand what military life (even in peacetime) is all about.

      Again, Thank you for your comments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Phdast, I came back! I remember my father a WWII infantry vet from the battle of the bulge taking about liberating Bergen Belsen concentration camp {I think] and have the horror of these poor Jewish people ...and Allied POWs. His , as many , no doult were memories of horror. He also talked about "Red Ball" truck drivers deserting miles away from the front lines refusing to enter the front with ammo and supplies . And how they were given orders to shoot any allied drivers who were deserters! The entire era was soo different from today's . Can we believe we can judge our Fathers for what they had to do? I can't and don't! My Father also ,to the day he died , hated dogs! He talked of watching domestic dogs feeding on the dead soldiers of both sides and how the G.I.s would shoot the dogs .......These men and women were truly our "greatest generation!'....Do you ever feel that it seems rather ironic that today we can seek out these incidents and Judge our fathers for something that happened in a world unkown to you and I ? I do find your hubs possitive and interesting!....Good job!

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      8 years ago from new jersey

      "Liberating the concentration camps and viewing the masses of starving, diseased, and abused inmates was clearly more than some soldiers could handle with equanimity or restraint. The extreme emotionality and use of excessive, even deadly force were temporary reactions.

      No body of evidence exists, and veterans themselves do not indicate, any long term difficulties with violence after returning to their families and the civilian life they had left behind."

      Great hub. I have to say, I do think many people who witnessed the aftermath lost their souls... I saw that myself.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Another great example of your work. Thanks for sharing this information with the masses! Appreciate your extensive documentation.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Phdast , You have done an excellent job in this research ! AND I can't wait to read the rest of these hubs on WWII , a great interest of mine. I am a bit confused by your implications and sense of investigative intent . At least in my interpreting your summarized conclusions. In all of history the "facts" and the history of wars and peace are detirmined by the 'victors'. I will respond more later to this and these interesting hubs!......Got to go to work!!!...:-}

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Alasta - I am quite convinced it was a cover up. Patton dispersed all those involved, transferred them to other units. But there was that IG report and although Patton hushed things up, a copy made it to the National Archives. In the 1980s a retired amry colonel turned researcher found it.

      I was lucky enough to make his acquaintance on a research trip and he let me make copies of all his documents. Thank heavens, because when I pulled the "file" for the IG report at NARA, I was told it didn't exist.

      I persisted so they conducted a broader search and found the folder; it had been misfiled. When they brought me the folder, it was empty, not a single page of the twenty+ page document was there.

      I understand why it "disappeared." As I met and corresponded with more veterans it became clear how great their fear had been. Fear of investigation, fear of a court martial, and even 30-40 years later - fear that their own or their buddies service records would be tarnished.

      Malmedy and the camps were definitely not good news for the Germans, and I think you are right, the scene in Shutter Island is probably modeled after massacres that really took place. Theresa

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hmmm, looks like a possible cover-up with the Dachau investigative file. Great research here Theresa, all new info and quite interesting. Malmedy and the camps were not good news for a lot of Germans. Sounds like the prisoner massacre scene in Shutter Island might not be a piece of fiction after all.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sem- Thank you for reading the article and I appreciate your comments and questions. I think you are right in that Eisenhower’s order may have contributed to German deaths. As you say the numbers are debatable. But whether his order was the primary factor is not so clear.

      A lot of research, sociological, psychological, and historical, has been done with respect to WW II and Viet Nam, on the radicalizing effects of war (inhibitions are lowered, people will do in groups what they probably would not do as individuals, moral categories and choices become more fluid) on any group of men.

      And the longer they are in battle and the more horrible situations and atrocities, the more likely they are to commit immoral acts themselves. Another factor which I try to address in my work is the overwhelming nature and absolute horror of what the American GI’s witnessed.

      Most of these men were battle-hardened they had seen fellow soldiers wounded and killed. But enemy soldiers carry and use guns. Emotionally/ psychologically it was very different when e American GI’s started seeing tens, hundreds, even thousands of emaciated, beaten, injured civilians – men, but also some women and children.

      With a few exceptions certainly, Malmedy, for example, most mistreatment of Germans by Americans seems to have occurred after the camps were opened. Even those GI’s who did not personally go into the camps, soon heard the stories and saw the picture.

      You are certainly right that Patton was a different breed, often disobeyed orders he disagreed with, and was known for treating the prisoners under his charge quite well. On the other hand, he dispersed and protected the soldiers who had been investigated by the IG after the Dachau atrocity.

      I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily. I am not a military historian, or even a WW II historian. My teaching field is 19th and 20th century Europe and my narrow research focus, is the America liberation of Nazi concentration camps. I welcome any other comments or questions. Thanks. Theresa

    • Sembj profile image


      8 years ago

      I have read all three of the articles in the series with great interest - they are well researched and written. However I do feel that Eisenhower's direct order regarding German prisoners led to the death of many, many Germans - some have suggested that approx 1.7 German troops never made it home after being held prisoner! The number of deaths may be up for question but there seems little doubt that Eisenhower wanted to extract retribution and many were quite willing to follow his orders in the same way Hitler's soldiers had followed his orders. Patton, always one to ignore orders he did not agree with, simply disobeyed Eisenhower rather than see his captives starved to death and meet the other indignities that naturally flowed from Eisenhower's orders. I am interested in your view of the above since I don't think all of the accounts that suggest many, many Germans met inhumane treatment and death at the hands of the Americans. Sem

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Revenge and retaliation certainly are the emotions of the moment, but I think you are probably right that they prove to have little consolation power in the long run.

      What is also tragic about the Nazis who were tried and imprisoned, is that very few of them were the top-level officials in the regime. Most of them got away. The majority of those imprisoned were mid-level functionaries. Although I believe the Israelis took care of some of the top-level Nazi criminals who fled to South America.

      As you say, regardless of the craziness and cruelty in the world, we cannot give up trying to teach and encourage tolerance. Thank you for the positive and affirming comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      Wow! War is hell! I can't blame the American soldiers for wanting to retaliate against the German soldiers. It seems the least they could have done for all the victims of the Final Solution and the death and work camps. Revenge and retaliation are common feelings at seeing such inhumanity. I think revenge consoles only on a temporary basis. I think tracking down these criminals and pursuing them through the justice system, no matter how long it takes, is better in the long run. I know that most of the Germans, soldiers, and officers that were imprisoned for war crimes were released after their prison terms were up. It is my opinion they should have kept them in prison for life. Why can't we all just live in peace? Some one or some country always wants to dominate others and be in control.

      We try to teach tolerance everyday in the classroom, but sometimes I think it is a losing battle, because the adults and people running our countries can't even get along, or get it right. But, I guess we have to keep trying.

      Wonderful hub! Well-researched and well-written! Voted up!

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Robert, you are correct, far too often in history it seems as if revenge and retaliation do triumph over common sense and decency. At times it is so discouraging and makes me wonder if these dreadful tendencies in human nature will ever change.

      Our politics has become polarized and our national political rhetoric has become so antagonistic and demeaning and dysfunctional. So few leaders are willing to embrace rational compromise and work together for the good of the American people and the nation. Political speech has become so strident and vindictive; it concerns me greatly.

      And you are very welcome. Thank you for reading my work and commenting on it. Theresa

    • ROBERTHEWETTSR profile image

      rOBERT hEWETT SR. 

      8 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Your articles illustrate what happens when common sense and decency are thrown aside in favor of revenge or retaliation in like kind. This mentality was present in the Iraq war and I heard people say, they do it to us so why not treat them the same way. Some of the same attitudes in our political parties have polarized this nation and threatens the existence of the middle class Americans. Thank you for your articles. Robert

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I try to write clearly and well, but truthfully, the annotations and citations would be far fewer and poorer except for the taskmaster professors at Emory University. Sometimes dissertation research directors are just merciless; you hate them at times, but in the end your work is better for it.

      I wish more people were aware of how easily, even decently intentioned people, can change - become more violent as they take on the Warden role. The psychological implications are so clear and far reaching.

      Abu Grabe is certainly an example of that and after hearing and reading all their testimony, I was and still am amazed that there weren't many more instances of American atrocities during WW II. American soldiers were by and large good, solid, moral men, but even they occasionally saw too much.

    • molometer profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a great piece of detective work Phdast7.

      I commend your efforts. Not an easy task.

      Well done, beautifully written and annotated.

      Psychologically even in peacetime we know that as soon as you make a division between even the most placid of people. Prisoner/Warder model.

      The Warders always become more and more violent in very short order and abuse the prisoners.

      Abu Grave comes to mind.

      Add to that the horror these guys witnessed, is it any wonder they acted the way they did. No.

      Got to love Patten at least for his loyalty to his troops.

    • phdast7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Theresa Ast 

      9 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Thomas-

      As you say, Patton was Patton. :) He did a great scatter and cover up job. None of the historians or archivists at the National Archives had ever seen or heard of the Dachau IG report. They were no help at all. (But I had Beuchner's book and comments from a few vets and I knew there had been an IG investigation of the events at Dachau).

      I spent part of the next summer doing research at the Military History Institute in Carlisle Barracks and the archivist there said I should get in touch with Col. Foster in DC, retired army and amateur historian. Back in DC, I looked him up and after checking me out for about 8 hours to make sure I was legit, he gave me a photocopy of the IG report. He had found it ten years earlier, misfiled, as if someone didn't want it discovered. He made copies and continued with his other research. Couple of years later he discovered it was missing from the file and no one knew how or when it had been taken/destroyed. I was extremely fortunate that the archivist put me in touch with Foster.

      So glad you liked the series. I need to focus on my day job for awhile (which means writing lectures and grading copious numbers of student papers), but eventually I hope to post several more hubs about various aspects of the "American Liberators of the Concentration Camps."


    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


      9 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Hi phd...

      When your story reached Patton's desk (as head of third Army) I immediately thought of Malmedy with the certain knowledge that anyone who was involved with that phase of the Bulge battle would have burned any such report.

      Plus...Patton was Patton after all!

      This was a great series!



    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      9 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Can we be surprised of the reaction of the Allied troops when entering these death camps= I think not!


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