Chaplain's report on Landsberg

A report from the chaplains of the 36th Infantry Division, written by Chaplain (Colonel)

Herbert E. MacCombie, Division Chaplain, describes what was seen at Landsberg two

days after the 101st passed through:

 

On April 30 I visited the German Concentration Camp at Landsberg. 

 

In World War I we had been told that the stories of German atrocities were mere

propaganda. This time I saw for myself. It was no propaganda.

 

As I came into the court yard I saw a great pile of what appeared to be skeletons.

On closer approach I found that they were not skeletons, but the bodies of men

and women who had been literally starved to death.

 

In the building we found beds in tiers, about five deep, one above the other. On

many of the beds were located the charred remains of prisoners. When they knew

our troops were arriving, the keepers of the prison set the building afire with the

prisoners still chained in their bunks.

 

I personally handled gold wedding rings that had been stripped from the fingers of their victims. I also saw the gold fillings that had been forced from their teeth. The stench was terrible — worse than the cemetery at Vannulo.

 

It was a horror that will remain with me forever. Nearby Germans said that they did not know what had been going on. They must have lied. The stench of the place was enough to arouse the suspicion of any normal human being.

The camp system discovered by the 101st Cavalry was part of the Kaufering camp system, which included 12 camps. Inmates there provided slave labor for building large underground factories for fighter aircraft.

 

At Kaufering, prisoners slept in poorly heated and badly supplied earthen huts, which were partially submerged in the ground and covered with dirt to hide them from allied planes flying overhead. The largest of Kaufering’s 11 camps contained several thousand prisoners, the majority of whom were Jews. According to official estimates, some 14,500 prisoners were murdered in the Kaufering camps.