Martha Gellhorn, a pioneering female journalist who often reported from the front lines during WWII, details the liberation of Dachau.
We were blind and unbelieving and slow, and that we can never be again.
I have not talked about how it was the day the American Army arrived, though the prisoners told me. In their joy to be free and longing to see the friends who had come at last, the prisoners rushed to the fence and died- electrocuted. There were those who died cheering, because that effort of happiness was more than their bodies could endure. There were those who died because at last they had food and they ate before they could be stopped and it killed them. I do not know words fine enough to talk of the men who have lived in this horror for years- three years, five years, ten years- and whose minds are as clear and unafraid as the day they entered.
I was in Dachau when the German armies surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. It was a suitable place to be. For surely this war was made to abolish Dachau and all the other places like Dachau and everything that Dachau stands for. To abolish it forever. That these cemetery prisons existed is the crime and shame of the German people.
We are not entirely guiltless, we the Allies, because it took us twelve years to open the gates of Dachau. We were blind and unbelieving and slow, and that we can never be again. We must know that there can never be peace if there is cruelty like this in the world.
And if ever again we tolerate such cruelty we have no right to peace.