Research

Routzahn, Edward W.

Liberator

Dachau

Edward Routzahn is the son of Charles and Emma Routzahn of Dearborn , Michigan . His father was an employee of the Cadillac Motor Car Company. He had two brothers and two sisters. He graduated from Fordson High School in January, 1942. Raised as a Protestant, he does not recall any contact with or exposure to Jews during his early years.

Knowing that the military draft was imminent, he enlisted in the United States Army on April 1, 1943, and received his basic training in field artillery at Fort Hood , Texas . After basic training, he was sent to England for further training, landing on the European mainland at Omaha Beach on June 9, 1944, three days after D-Day, as part of the 292 nd Field Artillery Observation Battalion. That campaign took him through France and then into Germany .

When his unit reached Augsburg in Bavaria , the entire battalion was ordered to proceed to the Dachau Concentration Camp. There they performed guard duties, primarily outside of the camp, to prevent the inmates from leaving and to maintain order. He believes that his unit arrived three or four days after the camp's initial liberation. He described and showed photos he himself had taken of piles of dead bodies, stacked like cordwood throughout the camp and near the crematorium. Outside of the camp he saw a parked train of more than 15 boxcars with their sides open, each full of dead bodies. He described the bodies in the train and throughout the camp as emaciated, only skin and bones, and the prevailing smell as unforgettably dreadful. Prior to their assignment to Dachau his unit had been told that the inmates were primarily Jews and Poles.

Mr. Routzahn was not permitted to make contact with any inmates inside the camp, but did with Germans outside around Dachau and in Augsburg . The Germans claimed that they had no knowledge of what was going on, and that they would not believe it even when they were told. However, he qualified that by stating that the German population was very frightened at the time.

Mr. Routzahn's unit was at Dachau for 2-1/2 days, but he would have liked to have left after one day since the conditions and the smell there were so disagreeable and offensive. Prior to leaving, he saw members of the Army Medical Corps enter the camp and administer vaccines to the survivors.

Following his discharge from the Army in February, 1946, he attended the University of Maryland . He is married and has two daughters.

His message to Holocaust deniers is that he will never forget what he witnessed as well as the indescribable stench of the masses of corpses at the Dachau Concentration Camp.