WWII: Liberating the Concentration Camps

A movie I watched recently posits that, when the main character’s batallion lliberated a concentration camp: 1) The Germans surrendered immediately; 2) The Americans weren’t particularly impressed with the Germans’ surrender and lined them up against the wall for summary execution.

What were the experiences of Allied soldiers liberating concentration camps? Did the Germans fight back? Did they surrender? Did any Allied batallions apply any “extra-judicial” punishment to the guards, as suggested in the movie?

Yes, Allied (specifically, American) soldiers did massacre concentration camp guards on at least one occasion: the Dachau massacre. Many concentration camp guards captured by the Soviet Army were also summarily executed.

I worked with a guy that was part of Patton’s Third Army. He told me that when they rolled into the first concentration camp and saw the horror, they as a grouped killed every SS soldier they found. Every last one was trying to escape or resisted he said with a wink of the eye. If the story was true and I saw no reason to doubt it, that would appear to be another instance.

I heard this back in 89 or 90.

After what they saw in liberating that camp, I would consider it a miracle that ANY of the SS guards survived the night.

The Dachau massacre is pretty well known, despite only a small part of the total camp guard being murdered. I’m kinda skeptical that every SS soldier was killed at another camp, but the incident isn’t at least as well known as Dachau.

Dad said when the Russians showed up at his officers’ camp, they opened the gates and then went back to town and got roaring drunk. He said he and a buddy ventured into town with all the drunken Russians but, because of all the celebratory shooting, decided they were safer back at the camp waiting for the Allies. When things settled down, the German guards were long gone. It sounded like the Germans and the prisoners all saw it coming some days in advance and the guards were ready to roll.

Is there any truth to the story that guards replaced themselves with soldiers who had never been at the camps and fled to surrender with military units?

I saw no reason to doubt him but he could have been exaggerating. He is probably dead by now and at least long since retired. He specifically said every SS which I thought implied they let the regular soldiers surrender. Were the camps 100% SS?

Looking on line, it appears the Buchenwald was the camp in question.

I thought that generally when liberating units arrived at the camps the guards had all fled. Certainly I’ve read of troops finding unguarded camps. And certainly it’s what any sensible guard would do.