The Thomas Samuel Partlow U.S. Army Scrapbook Documents Liberation of Dachau

By Lisa Meisch, Archivist/Museum Curator

Dachau was the first regular concentration camp set up by the Nazi government. It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the northeastern part of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich, Germany. The internees were initially political opponents of the Nazi regime, such as German Communists, Social Democrats, and trade unionists. Over time, other groups including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, and Jews were also interned there. The number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 188,000, and the number who died there between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000. It is unlikely that the total number of Dachau victims will ever be known.

Seventy-five years ago, on April 29, 1945, as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated by the United States Army. In early May, Army medical corps units entered the camp to care for the ill and emaciated survivors, many of whom were suffering from typhus, tuberculosis, or other diseases. One of the first such units was the 116th Evacuation Hospital, to which Liberty, Texas, native Thomas Samuel (Sam) Partlow was assigned.

Sam Partlow compiled a scrapbook documenting his military experiences in Europe, including his unit’s time at Dachau. It includes numerous photographs along with details of his service and some clippings concerning the Nazi concentration camps. Entitled “Snaps and Scraps: My Life in the Army,” the scrapbook is one that was created especially for service members. This scrapbook is housed at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center.

Sam Partlow (center) with “Buzz” Volpin (left) and Janie Wilt (right) after arriving in Germany. Thomas Samuel Partlow U.S. Army Scrapbook. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
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