DACHAU, Germany –
On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied D-Day invasion to end National Socialist Fascism in Europe, eight Reserve Soldiers from various units within the 7th Mission Support Command joined four active duty Soldiers from the senior leadership team of the 21st Theater Support Command´s Equal Opportunity Staff to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial on June 5, 2019.
The Dachau Memorial is on a site outside of Munich where more than 40,000 persons were killed from 1933 to within the end of WWII in 1945.
The Soldiers first passed through the camp´s wrought-iron front gate that read “Arbeit macht frei,” meaning “work frees you.” The Soldiers then stopped at two bronze memorial plaques honoring the Soldiers of the U.S. Army´s 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division, the 20th Armored (Liberator) Division along with other 7th U.S. Army elements who liberated the camp from April 28 to 29, 1945.
Afterwards, the tour members dispersed on a self-guided tour to view prison barracks, barbed wire fences, gas chambers, the crematorium and a museum.
They learned more details about the history of the camp during Germany´s National Socialist government under Adolf Hitler and gained added context for the Allied invasion on June 6, 1945, which is being celebrated this week in France.
Many of the Soldiers had personal experiences with war through combat deployments. After seeing the site, the Soldiers were bolstered in their opinion that racism, religious discrimination and official hatred against minorities destroy society.
“Walking into the camp, it is very grim, there´s nothing beautiful about the camp,” said Capt. George T. Herrivel III, the commander of the 589th Engineer Detachment, 510th Regional Support Group, 7th Mission Support Command.
Herrivel came to find out why the camp existed and concluded that individual awareness and moral courage against injustice must never cease.
“I think that the world´s population cannot stand idle and watch these things go down,” he said.
Other Soldiers were moved by stories of personal bravery.
“When one group of people believe they are superior, they will cause all kinds of harm,” said Capt. Adomako Adjapong, a patient administration officer with the Medical Support Unit, 7th Mission Support Command.
Adjapong learned that some prisoners fought against their captors in a few camp uprisings.
“The bad side of it is that those who did not have the will nor the tools to fight against tyranny were wiped out,” he said.
The camp visitors confirmed that the memory of the atrocities must be maintained.
“We must never forget,” said Spec. Marlo D. Miranda, a personnel Soldier in the S1 section of the 83rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Regional Support Command, 7th Mission Support Command.
Miranda said that living conditions the prisoners endured ending in murder and the crematorium will always stay with him.