Typhus epidemic at Dachau
Newspaper reporters view bodies at Dachau, May 3, 1945
The photo above shows bodies laid out in rows near a barracks building on the east side of the Dachau camp; these were the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus after the camp was liberated.
Prisoner reads prayers to two survivors in the infirmary barracks
After the Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, the former inmates had to be kept inside the prison enclosure for a few more weeks until all danger of spreading the typhus epidemic in the camp had passed. Just before the Americans arrived, up to 400 prisoners had been dying each day in the typhus epidemic which was out of control, according to the testimony of the Chief Doctor of the camp at the American Military Tribunal held at Dachau in November 1945.
American doctors care for sick prisoners in the Dachau typhus ward
Liberated Russian prisoner is deloused with DDT
Before release, inmates had to undergo typhus tests by US Army
On 2 May 1945, the 116th Evacuation Hospital arrived at Dachau and set up operations. According to a report made on 20 May 1945, there were 140 prisoners dying each day in the camp; the principle causes of death were starvation, tuberculosis, typhus and dysentery. There were 4,000 prisoners in the prison hospital and an unknown number of sick prisoners in the barracks who had been receiving no medical attention.
There were 18 one-story wooden SS barrack buildings in the Dachau army garrison which were converted into hospital wards. The medical personnel were housed in the SS administration building. A Typhus Commission arrived and began vaccinating all medical personnel and the prisoners. There was a daily dusting of DDT to kill the lice which spreads typhus.
On 3 May 1945, the sick prisoners were brought to the hospital wards. They were bathed, dusted with DDT powder and given clean pajamas to wear; their old prison clothes were burned.
By July 1945, the typhus epidemic in the Dachau concentration camp had been brought under control by the US Army doctors, and all the prisoners had either been released or moved to a Displaced Persons camp at Landsberg. The photograph immediately above shows former inmates being tested for typhus before being allowed to leave.