On April 29, 1945, American forces liberate Dachau, the first concentration camp established by Germany’s Nazi regime. Established just five weeks after Adolf Hitler took power as chancellor in 1933, the camp was situated on the outskirts of the town of Dachau, just 12 miles north of Munich.
Dachau became the model for other Nazi concentration camps and was also the first to use prisoners as human guinea pigs in medical experiments.
At Dachau, Nazi scientists tested the effects of freezing and changes to atmospheric pressure on inmates, infected them with malaria and treated them with experimental drugs, and forced them to drink only seawater, among other savage experiments.
Some 40,000 inmates died at Dachau and countless more passed through on their way to the death camps in Poland, where millions perished. Hitler tried to eliminate evidence of the atrocities as the Allied closed in, but not before the truth was revealed at Dachau and elsewhere.
The Americans who liberated Dachau were so appalled by the scene that, within a few hours of arriving, they executed the German commandant and 500 of his troops.