Jewish Prisoners marched out of Dachau

Dachau prisoners marching through a German village

Photo Credit: USHMM

Acting on Hitler's orders, the Commandant of Dachau, Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, made an attempt to evacuate the Dachau main camp before the American liberators arrived. On April 26th, 1945, Weiter left the camp with a transport of prisoners bound for Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachu in Austria. On that same day, 1,759 Jewish prisoners were put on a train that was headed south. One of the survivors of this train was Mendel Rosenberg.

Also on April 26th, there were 6,887 other prisoners, half of whom were Jews, that started on a march south to the mountains.

Russian POWs and Jews on death march out of Dachau

One of the prisoners who survived this march was Samuel Pisar, a Polish Jew who emigrated to America after the war, became an international lawyer and wrote a book entitled "Of Blood and Hope." Pisar was 13 years old when the Bialystock ghetto in northeastern Poland was liquidated. He was sent to the extermination camp at Majdanek, but his mother and younger sister were sent to Auschwitz. His father had already been shot by the Gestapo. A few months later, Pisar was transferred to Auschwitz where he was given a job working near the crematoria at Birkenau. He could hear the cries of the innocents as they were herded into the gas chambers while an orchestra played classical music. When Auschwitz was evacuated in January 1945, Pisar was one of the prisoners on the death march out of the camp; he ended up in Dachau where his misery continued. When American planes strafed the column of Jews marching out of Dachau, he managed to escape and was eventually rescued by American soldiers. He had just turned 16 and had survived three long years of Nazi persecution.

Another survivor of the march out of Dachau was Jack Adler, who was just 15 at the time. He emigrated to America in 1946; his 12 year old sister had been gassed at Auschwitz and 78 members of his extended family had perished in the Holocaust. Adler was saved from the gas chamber because he was selected for medical experiments, but he moved himself to another barrack where the inmates were slave laborers. He survived the march out of Auschwitz in January 1945 and was eventually brought to Dachau. When he was liberated from the march out of Dachau by American soldiers, he weighed only 66 pounds.

Morris Friebaum lost his whole family in the Holocaust when they were sent to Treblinka from the Warsaw ghetto. Morris escaped from the ghetto and lived on his own in the Polish countryside, stealing and begging for food, and sleeping in barns. When he was finally caught, he was sent to Auschwitz, where he survived the selections for the gas chamber. Near the end of the war, he was sent to a small camp in Hessental, Germany. When this camp was evacuated, the prisoners were put on a train which was bombed by Allied planes. Morris and 30 others who were injured were taken to Dachau. In the final days of the war, Morris was one of the Jewish prisoners who were marched out of Dachau and finally set free by Allied troops on May 2, 1945.

Also among the prisoners on the march, who were liberated by the Americans, was Majir Korenblit, who changed his name to Major Kornblit when he moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1951. In 1983, his son Michael Korenblit co-authored a book about the Holocaust experience of his father and his mother, Mania, who changed her name to Manya after the war. The book is entitled "Until We Meet Again: A True Story of Love and War, Separation and Reunion."

After the Nazis conquered Poland in September 1939, Majir Korenblit and his teen-aged sweetheart Mania hid from the Gestapo, along with a handful of other Jews, in a hand-dug crater underneath a three-story haystack. Eventually, hunger forced them out of their hiding place and they went to work for the Nazis in the Hrubieszow ghetto. When the Gestapo came to the ghetto, Major and Manya separated and escaped, spending the next 2 1/2 years on the verge of death. Between them, Majir and Mania survived 13 concentration camps, including Auschwitz where both aquired a tattoo on their arms when they were registered. Mania survived Auschwitz because she volunteered to work in Czechoslovakia where she was liberated by the Soviet Army. Majir was sent to Germany to work and wound up in Dachau in the last days of the war.

Mania and Majir lost their entire families in the Holocaust, except for Mania's younger brother Chaim, who moved to Great Britain after the war. Mania and her brother were reunited in 1982.

Philip Riteman (Reitman) was also the sole survivor in his family. He was 14 when he was sent to Auschwitz, but he survived by lying about his age. After 2 and a half years at Auschwitz-Birkenau, he was sent to Dachau and then to one of the Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau near Landsberg am Lech. In the last days before Dachau was liberated, Riteman was brought back to the main camp. He was one of the prisoners who was sent on the march out of Dachau, and rescued by American troops on May 2, 1945.


Which Division liberated Dachau?

Background - the days just before the liberation

After the liberation

Back to Dachau Liberation

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This page was last updated on June 26, 2009