In Part 1 I discussed the Nazi Concentration Camps and Dachau. In Part 2 I talk about my father’s involvement in the liberation as part of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division and his subsequent capture of the Nazi general in charge of Munich’s anti-aircraft artillery.
Almost 60 years after WWII was over I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in 2003. When I mentioned to the tour guides there that my father had liberated the camp, they all asked me a question… the same question: “Do you have pictures?” I sent them to the tribute site I’d created for my father, with the pictures he’d left me. Over 60,000 people have come to visit the site. I spoke to one young tour guide, who was studying history at the local university. I told him I had studied history at the University of California when I was his age. I asked him “What do German people think of what happened at Dachau?” He told me:
“People my grandparent’s age who were adults back then are ashamed. They knew. Sometimes those who worked in the Dachau factories would leave a sandwich in their desk to be found. They knew the camp prisoners were working the night shift.”
“Those who are my parents’ age put it from their mind. They do not think about it. They do not discuss it.”
“Those my age, the grandchildren of those who lived during WWII want to bring it out in the open. We want to know the history.”
Continued in Liberation of Dachau: a personal view
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian