On this day, we remember when American forces liberated Dachau 70 years ago, dismantling the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime. Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control.
From its sinister inception in 1933, Dachau held political prisoners – opponents of the Third Reich. It became the prototype for Nazi concentration camps and the training ground for Schutzstaffel (SS) camp guards. As the seed of Nazi evil grew, the camp swelled with thousands of others across Europe targeted by the Nazis, including Jews, other religious sects, Sinti, Roma, LGBT persons, the disabled, and those deemed asocial.
Our hearts are heavy in remembrance of the more than 40,000 individuals from every walk of life who died, and the more than 200,000 who suffered at Dachau. As we reflect on the anniversary of Dachau’s liberation, we draw inspiration from, and recall with gratitude, the sacrifices of so many Americans – in particular our brave soldiers – to win victory over oppression. Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp – “You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world” – we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again. History will not repeat itself.