August 27, 2010
Col. Howard A. Buechner's account of the execution of Waffen-SS soldiers at Dachau
"Perhaps it was a technically improper act, and the deaths of these few hundred sadists could hardly atone for the millions of people who suffered and died at the hands of so many other participants in 'The Final Solution.' Nonetheless, in this instance at least, vengeance was complete. It finally occurred to me that the silence which has surrounded this episode for more than forty years should be broken and that the truth should be made known to the world. Those who survived the Holocaust, and the kinsmen of those who died in its flames, might draw some small comfort from the knowledge that the murderers of Dachau did not go unpunished." Howard Buechner, The Hour of the Avenger
For forty-one years after the liberation of Dachau, nothing was known by the general public about the execution of the Waffen-SS soldiers stationed at an army garrison right next to the concentration camp, or about the killing of the SS-Totenkopf guards who had surrendered to the Americans. The documents of the US military investigation of the Dachau massacre were marked "secret" and the soldiers who were involved rarely talked about what had happened on April 29, 1945 when the most notorious camp in the Nazi concentration camp system was liberated by the US Seventh Army. Wives and families of the SS men, who were living inside the garrison and had heard the gunfire that day, were not notified of the deaths of their loved-ones; they were told that the SS men had escaped on liberation day and were still being hunted.
In 1986, Col. Howard A. Buechner, a medical officer with the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division, wrote and published a book called "The Hour of the Avenger," in which he revealed the deliberate killing of 520 Prisoners of War by American soldiers, in violation of the Geneva convention, after the SS garrison and concentration camp at Dachau had been formally surrendered to the American liberators under a white flag of truce.
The Waffen-SS was an elite volunteer army that fought in battle; they had nothing to do with the concentration camp that was located next to the SS garrison. The concentration camp guards were a separate group called the SS-Totenkopfverbände, or the Death's Head SS. By the end of the war, 60% of the Waffen-SS consisted of volunteers from other countries; some of the soldiers at Dachau that day were Hungarian.
"The Avenger," in the title of Col. Buechner's book, refers to 1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead, a "full-blooded Cherokee Indian" who was the Executive Officer of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, the unit which allegedly murdered 346 Waffen-SS soldiers in cold blood, on Bushyhead's orders. Col. Buechner explains that Lt. Bushyhead was avenging the wrong that had been done to the native population of America by the white settlers; his people had been brutally uprooted from their ancestral homes in Georgia and North Carolina and forced to walk more than a thousand miles to Oklahoma on the "trail of tears" where they had "perished in untold numbers and without retribution." According to Col. Buechner, Lt. Bushyhead felt a kinship with the Jews who had also been "harassed and driven from country to country for thousands of years." As for himself, Col. Buechner wrote: "At that time, I am not sure that I had ever heard of a concentration camp and certainly did not know what took place in these awful centers of death and destruction. They were among Germany's best kept secrets."
SWR: One of my Masonic Brothers Thurman C Pace was with one of the first Units that knocked down the Gate at Dachau with Several Tanks. He heard rumours of a possible wholesale killing of German Personnel by US Army Forces but they were quickly crushed....
From what he heard what set off the GI's to go off on their killing spree was the discovery of a huge pile of baby shoes at the area where the inmates personnel effects were taken and stored
We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm
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