Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Big Cases of Revenge

Dachau Massacre
A watchtower at Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria.
A watchtower at Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria.

In late April 1945, in the waning days of World War II, members of the 45th Thunderbird Army Infantry Division were ordered to take the Bavarian concentration camp at Dachau.

The members of the division soon discovered what came to be called the "death train" -- 39 rail cars filled with the corpses of 2,310 camp inmates lying stationary on the tracks just within the camp's fenced walls.

Some members of the division said this sight drove them to commit one of the worst atrocities committed by American infantry troops in World War II. In an act of revenge for their crimes against the civilians found dead and dying in the camps, the American liberators of Dachau executed a number of unarmed SS officers who had come to the camp to surrender. The Americans lined up 75 German soldiers against a wall inside the camp and mowed them down by machine gun. In total, 17 were executed at the wall and another 11 were killed elsewhere in the camp the day it was captured.

Army officials covered up the war crime; it was only revealed in 2001 after World War II records were declassified.

More to Explore