A previously unknown collection of photographs documenting the immediate aftermath of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1945 have been unveiled ahead of their sale later this month in Jerusalem.
The collection includes images of the liberation, as well as the revenge killings of a few dozen SS guards at the camp by liberated inmates and American troops shocked by the sights they encountered. As they approached the camp, American army records say the troops found 40 train cars and trucks filled with rotting corpses and concrete rooms inside the camp full of naked bodies.
The photographs were made public ahead of their auction later this month at the Kedem Auction House on Jerusalem’s Ramban Street.
They belonged to Belgian anti-Nazi underground operative Adrian Aloy, who was captured by the Nazis during the war and held at the camp.
During the war, Dachau held Jews, political dissenters, Catholic priests, Soviet POWs, and others. Fully 32,000 inmate deaths at the camp are documented, while thousands more are known to have died there, but their deaths and identities were not recorded. Dachau, which during the war grew into a system of over 100 separate installations that included forced labor camps, was notorious for the widespread use of torture against inmates, including medical experiments that killed hundreds.
The photographs show German guards surrendering to the approaching American forces at the camp’s gate, soldiers opening the doors of train cars filled with dead bodies, inmates showing the American GIs the corpse incineration ovens, and the bodies of SS soldiers killed after the camp’s liberation and thrown into a sewage ditch.
The camp was liberated on April 29, 1945.