Dachau, near Munich, began as a concentration camp for political prisoners and a training center for guards in 1933. Its structure and routine became a model for other camps. At least 28,000 people died at Dachau and its subcamps between 1933 and 1945. The SS tortured and killed thousands of prisoners in horrifying medical experiments.

Survivors in the Dachau infirmary, immediately following liberation, May 1945.

Photograph Tibor Vance, USHMM, courtesy Tibor Vance

On April 29, 1945, as three U.S. Army divisions converged on Dachau, they found 30 abandoned railroad cars occupied by 816 survivors and 2,310 corpses. As soldiers approached the camp, prisoners began cheering and crying. Thirty-two thousand were liberated.

The soldiers could scarcely believe their eyes. Witnesses described encountering walking skeletons.

U.S. troops examine piles of victims' clothing near the crematorium in Dachau, April 29, 1945.

USHMM, courtesy K. L. Rabinoff-Goldman

Dachau survivors push a wagon piled high with loaves of bread.

Photograph Col. Alexander Zabin, USHMM, courtesy Col. Alexander Zabin

Seventh Army troops force suspected members of the Hitler Youth to view the bodies of concentration camp inmates left in a train.

Photograph Margaret Bourke-White, USHMM, courtesy National Archives

Polish prisoners in Dachau toast their liberation by U.S. troops, April 29, 1945.

USHMM, courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83818