Major Sydney L. Burr Collection
April or May 1945
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
CU, "Muenchen Dachau" sign. MS, statue with sparse trees and a train car behind it. Soldiers look into the death train discovered by American troops on April 29, 1945. The train consisted of 30 rail cars with nearly 5,000 prisoners who had been evacuated from Buchenwald in the last days of the war. Soldiers guard the length of the train, a group smokes cigarettes. Open car reveals a pile of corpses in camp uniforms. The camera pans inside the car, revealing emaciated corpses. One is naked, some are wrapped in blankets and camp uniforms. Another car with more corpses inside; one naked laying face down and the rest in camp uniforms piled on top of one another. Another car filled with corpses in work uniforms with boots on, some hanging over the side of the car. 01:13:19 Entrance gate to Dachau. Pan of the camp through the barbed wire where many survivors in long coats walk about. Quick shot of two civilian men with bikes peering through the fence. Inside the camp there are many men in long coats and hats and armbands huddled together. A group of survivors march away from the camera in the middle of the crowd, passing an Army van with three men, and an orchestra holding and playing instruments. It is lightly snowing as the camera pans the crowd. Another MS of crowd, many coats are marked with an X or KL. 01:14:05 CU, pile of naked corpses in a dark room. EXT, large mound of naked corpses piled behind the crematorium. Clothes hang near the entrance to the crematorium. Pan, brick building, troops walk in and out of the building. 01:14:53 Bodies of SS men submerged in the moat. MS, bodies of SS removed from the water laying on the ground next to each other.
Original title on film can: "Dachau, Stuttgart - VE Day #4"
Transferred at 18 FPS
Biography / History:
Major Sydney L. Burr of New York City, NY was stationed northeast of London in Suffolk, England at Knettishall Air Force Base from 1943 to 1945. He served with the 388th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force. His formal function was to debrief bombing missions over Germany. It is unclear how he made his way to Germany to film the liberation of Dachau, but since he was very close to those soldiers and celebrated their returns from successful missions, it is likely they slipped him on board one of their flights after VE-Day.
In May 1945, the 388th flew into Austria and flew French POWs back to France (otherwise they would have had to walk). They also flew ground support troops of the 388th around Europe for an aerial tour; Major Burr was a passenger on one of these flights.
2008.118.1 Jamie B. Russell donated two reels of 16mm film taken by her father, Major Sydney L. Burr, who served with the 338th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force during the war, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in September 2008.
Sydney L. Burr
Jamie B. Russell
16mm b/w reversal original
16mm; DigiBeta; Betacam SP; VHS
01:12:10 - 01:15:13
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Jamie B. Russell