Eva Braun met Hitler while employed as an assistant to Hitler’s official photographer. Of a middle-class Catholic background, Braun spent her time with Hitler out of public view, entertaining herself by skiing and swimming. She had no discernible influence on Hitler’s political career but provided a certain domesticity to the life of the dictator. Loyal to the end, she refused to leave the Berlin bunker buried beneath the chancellery as the Russians closed in. The couple was married only hours before they both committed suicide.
Also on this day in 1945, the Americans liberate the concentration camp at Dachau. Five hundred German garrison troops guarding the camp are killed within an hour, some by inmates, but most by the American liberators, who are horrified by what they bear witness to, including huge piles of emaciated dead bodies found in railway cars and near the crematorium.
There were 33,000 survivors of the camp, 2,539 of them Jewish. Dachau, about 12 miles north of Munich, was the first concentration camp established by the Nazi regime, only five weeks after Hitler came to power. At least 160,000 prisoners passed through the main camp and another 90,000 through its 150 branches scattered throughout southern Germany and Austria. Medical experiments, ranging from studying the effects of freezing on warm-blooded creatures to treating intentionally inflicted malaria, were carried out on prisoners. At least 32,000 prisoners died of malnutrition and mistreatment at the camp itself; innumerable more were transported to the Auschwitz gas chambers. A memorial was established at the campsite on September 11, 1956.