Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
5. Concentration Camps & Forced Labor
An American witnesses Dachau hours after liberation
American solider William Applegate had dismissed reports of Nazi atrocities as exaggerations until he saw Dachau 72 hours after its liberation
Listen to audio
"But the most revolting thing was that when we finally went over to the area where the crematoriums were. And there, there were some low buildings with rooms, perhaps a little bigger than this one. I would say the rooms were twenty [feet] by twenty [feet].
And there, completely nude, were these corpses. Emaciated, their arms were no bigger than the bone in your arm. In some cases, a thumb had been removed. In other cases, a muscle out of the thigh had been removed. In other cases, the genitals had been mutilated. In other cases, there were cuts in the thorax of the people. And, of course, it was obvious they had been there for some time. In some cases, they had just thrown lime on them.
They had been there for a week or more in my judgment. And these were piled up just like cord wood. Piled one on top of the other — ten, twelve bodies high. There they were awaiting the movement to the crematoriums, which were not far away.
Now, I'd always thought that there might be more crematoriums than there were. I can only recall seeing either five or six ovens in a row and I would imagine on the other side, there were six, too.
What they had was a metal tray on wheels. They had wheels on one end and I think the other end fit in a track that went in these brick ovens. The doors on the oven didn't look any different than a furnace door that you'd find in a coal-fired furnace. Alongside at least one or two of these sliding trays on which they slid the bodies into the ovens on, were galvanized iron cans.
We looked in and at first couldn't realize what we were seeing, but actually we were seeing teeth that had been removed from these cadavers and thrown in there."
Applegate Interview, Tape 1, Side 2
Transcript page 13 (PDF, 182 KB)