The Dachau Concentration Camp was opened in 1933, just weeks after the Nazi rise to power in Germany. Dachau was the first camp to open, and one of the last to be liberated in the final days of the war in Europe. It was the longest-operating camp, and a training center for SS concentration camp guards.
Dachau was among the more than 40,000 Nazi sites of persecution throughout Europe that claimed the lives of millions of innocent men, women, and children, including six million Jews.
On April 29, 1945, infantry divisions of the U.S. Seventh Army liberated Dachau, one week before the end of the war in Europe. The troops had been through months of combat before they arrived at Dachau. What the soldiers witnessed that day was commensurate with or worse than anything they had seen on the battlefield, according to participants.
Earlier that same month, General Dwight Eisenhower, the commanding general of the victorious forces in Europe, visited a much smaller camp that had just been liberated. Confronted by the stark evidence of Nazi atrocities, he, too, was horrified, shocked, and sickened. “The American soldier might not have known what he was fighting for,” General Eisenhower said, “but after seeing the concentration camps, he knew what he was fighting against.”
Seventy-five years later, we continue working to ensure the horrors of those times are not forgotten. Today’s Germany is a strong partner in these efforts. It has faced its history and forthrightly assumed responsibility for bearing witness. The Dachau Memorial Site near Munich is an important example of that commitment.
The resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world is a reality that we cannot — and must not — ignore. As President Trump stated in his 2020 Proclamation of the Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, “We must never forget the abhorrent anti-Semitism, racial hatred, and discrimination stoked by the Nazi regime and its accomplices that sent countless people to ghettos, concentration camps, killing fields, and death camps…”
This requires our governments and citizens to speak up and confront vile hatred and to combat all forms of intolerance, discrimination, and prejudice. We owe that to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and to all victims of Nazi persecution. It is in that spirit that we remember what happened as we commemorate today the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau.