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16 October 2014
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From Belfast to Dachau

85 year old Teddy Dixon returned to Dachau, 60 years to the day since he helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp

Teddie Dixon back at Dachau

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The BBC NI documentary: From Belfast to Dachau, follows Belfast man Teddy Dixon on an emotional journey back to the concentration camp of Dachau.

What makes this story even more remarkable is that, during the second world war,Teddy Dixon was fighting with the American Army...

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939
Teddie in his US Army uniform
Teddy in his US army uniform


Teddy's family emigrated to the US in the early 1900's. Edward Copeland Dixon was born in New York City in 1920.

Five years later the Dixon family came back to Belfast and life went on as normal for Teddy, until war broke out and Teddy was drafted...into the US Army in 1944, aged 24.

Teddy joined the 42nd 'Rainbow' Division which took recruits from "all over the place".

 

The 42nd division landed in France in December 1944 and advanced through France as part of the 7th Army, entering Germany in March 1945. It was during the division's rapid advance through Germany in April 1945 that Teddy's new 12 man squad of buddies came across scenes of utter revulsion as they liberated 33,000 survivors from Dachau.
Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939
Teddy with his old Ranibow Division buddies
Teddy shares some memories with the Rainbow vets

 

In 2004, Teddy travelled to Memphis in the US where, for the first time in 59 years, he met up with some of his US Army buddies at a Rainbow Division reunion.

Men of the same age as Teddy and with the same demons Teddy wrestles with as a veteran of WWII and Dachau in particular.

Even after 59 years, the memories of what these octogenarians went through during the war as young men, were too dark to talk about, at their reunion in 2004.

 


"..going into hell" - Teddy relives the day his unit opened the gates of Dachau

 

prisoners at Dachau

Narrowband version

(warning - some of the images in this video clip may be upsetting to some viewers)


Then, on 29th April 2005, 60 years to the day that he saw his first victim of the Nazi concentration camps, Teddy Dixon went back to Dachau in an attempt to lay his ghosts of 1945 to rest.

 

back to Dachau... Teddy finally comes face to face with Dachau after 60 years

Teddy  Dixon

 

Narrowband version

(warning - some of the images in this video clip may be upsetting to some viewers)


Finally, Teddy gets a chance to meet a survivor of the camp he helped liberate. A Belgian TV crew are interviewing an elderly man as Teddy walks past. Teddy just has to introduce himself and look into the eyes of someone who is alive today thanks to him and his Rainbow Division soldiers.

 

liberator and survivor of Dachau meet 60 years on

Teddy meets a Dachau survivor

Narrowband version

(warning - some of the images in this video clip may be upsetting to some viewers)

 


YOUR RESPONSES

Kim Lynch - Feb '08
I was fascinated by this wonderful programme which I saw for tonight (Jan 08). I am a secondary school history teacher and wondered if Mr. Dixon gave talks to school groups? It's so important for younger generations to appreciate what people like Mr. Dixon did to ensure our future. A wonderful documentary. Congratulations to all involved. If anyone can put me in contact with Mr. Dixon about the possibilty of talking to students that would be wonderful.

Jamie Smith - Feb '08
Incredible Story -A True hero of Northern Ireland

Keith Murphy - Feb '08
All i can say is that it must have been so hard for you all but after watching the program you are all heroes

Craig Telford - Feb '08
I am just a young man of 26yrs old, from Belfast. I would just like to thank Mr Dixon and all the other men and women who fought on many different fronts whether it be on the front line, medical core or supporting the family while their loved one's where off in foriegn soil defending the rights and civil liberty of all men women and children across the world.

Your story was a great inspiration to me personally not to go off and fight in the Army but to never take for granted the freedom that brave people like yourself have given me. I only hope in some way that the solace you may have taken from seeing some of the people you helped liberate from those awful camps, the joy and happiness they now feel inside is down to you and your fellow comrades. Your story I'm sure could be told by many other men in that war,but for me your story will always be in my heart... Thank you very much Mr Dixon ... Thank you

Maggie J - Jan '08

In November 2006 I visited Dachau. I had no knowledge of the place prior to that but my friends sister had recommended that we pay it a visit when we were staying in Munich.

Part of the visit to the camp included a recorded map guide that informed you not only about the general history of the camp but allowed you the opportunity to hear the reports from some of the survivors who later documented their time in Dachau and their liberation and return visit 11 years later.

One of the entries from the survivors showed me the dangers of silence in matters like these - a member of the public approached him (a survivor) and grieved for the poor prisoners who had to build monuments and the like in the camp. While she was talking to him, he was trying to figure out where it had come from as it hadn't been there when he was liberated: what she thought had been built by prisoners of the Nazi regime had been built by interned Nazi's after the liberation of Dachau.

Ignorance is not bliss, we need to educate the future to ensure this never happens. This weekend I'll get the chance to watch this documentary, I know that there will be more I can learn from those who passed through that gatehouse so many years ago and though the subject is far from a happy one, I look forward to it.

Serena Woolrich - Feb '07
I am trying to locate another liberator in the Rainbow Divison who helped a Survior who wants to thank him (even at this late date). Is there anyway for you to put me in cntact with Mr. Dixon of this article?

THOMAS HERON - Jan '07
My name is Thomas Heron , i was just browsing, and came across this site. I was born and reared in Unity Flats , but spent most youth and time playing in Samuel Street with Jim Crawford and his brothers. We used to play football in Smithfield bus station with Joe Murphy and his brother Alec (R.I.P) . Great to see this wee site ,and some names, Joe , Patsy , Manuel . Cheers, Thomas (Toey) Heron.

Curtis E Thomas JR. - Jan '07
MR. DIXSON THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!! THANK GOD YOU MADE IT THROUGH THIS TO TELL YOUR STORY.. MY FATHER SERVED IN THE 42ND INFANTRY DIV.392D FIELD ARTILERY.. TRYING TO FIND IF THIS UNIT WAS THERE? THANK YOU AGAIN.. GOD BLESS

Todd Austin - Nov '06
My uncle, Harold Austin, was also a member of the Rainbow Division. As a reconnaissance soldier, he was undoubtedly one of the first to arrive at the camp, though he continues to decline to talk about his experiences. Thank you for this page.

Chris Mathers - July '06
Does anyone in the rainbow division know my uncle? His name was Robert Page. He was in the 42 cnd infantry Rainbow division at Dachau. It would be really nice if someone remembered him. We have letters he sent and pictures. I also have the uniform. We are proud that he was in the Rainbow division but he never talked about it until just before he passed away.

David Fullerton - June '06
Teddy Dixon is my great uncle and I have grown up reading stories about him in the papers and seeing him on the television. It is surrereal to known what he has done in WW2.

Lynn MacDonald - May '06
My Uncle Robert Page was in the 42nd Rainbow division. I know he typed for the army, he was in Dachau, France, England and Austria. He passed away 5 years ago at the age of 80. He never liked to talk about the war. He did take pictures of WW11 , and we have that album now. We also have a huge picture of all the men in the 42nd Rainbow Division. ( So I guess we have a picture of you.)He kept that hanging in his house for 53 years.
We also have a copy of the Life Magazine with the 42nd Division marching on the front cover. My uncle is right there on the cover. I keep a framed copy of this hanging in my house. (so does my sister, and 2 brothers.) We are all very proud of the Rainbow Division. (we live in Canada,) Possibly you may have known him.

Johnston Dixon - April '06
On behalf of my father, Teddy dixon, I would like to thank all who took the trouble to write in regarding "From Belfast to Dachau".
The programme won an award at the 2006 Royal Television Society bash in London. Congratulations to BBC Northern Ireland and Doubleband Films.

Roger Scearce - March '06
Mr Dixon - your story, and your service to our country during WW II honor all of us who have been "brothers in arms." I salute you, sir, and thank you.
All the very best,
Roger W. Scearce
Brigadier General, USA (Ret)

Kimberly Shutley - March '06
Teddy,

I am so happy you got to attend the reunion - I know the memories are so hard, but to be able to see those you served with, and those you rescued, had to be very heartwarming.
I am so grateful for your service to this country.
Thank you, and I miss you. ;)

~Kym

Sytze de Graaf (Netherlands) - Dec '05
Thank you Mr. Dixon for doing this. My father was a prisoner in Buchenwald and never saw his liberators again. This is what should have happenend more. He is still suffering. I loved to see you in Dachau and share your feelings with us.

Lyle Williamson - October '05
Coming from Northern Ireland and living in London, and as I have Sky television, I sometimes watch BBC NI. As I did tonight and selected the programme "From Belfast to Dachau".

What a fantastic and moving programme and what a wonderful man - Teddy Dixon is. I have never written to a programme before and was so moved by this programme, that I could not rest until I did. Mr Dixon I would like this opportunity to thank you for sharing your feelings and no one will ever understand how difficult it was for your to do so 60 years on, never mind the the actual experience.

I would also like to thank you for giving us our freedom we have today, as you rightly say we have not learned from our past, it still happens today.

The makers of this film congratulations, this programme should be shown on mainline BBC.


Thank you

Lyle.

Anna Wachala-Kelly - October '05
Dear Teddy
It was strange for me from someone who has lived in NI for the last 22 years to see your story, as I am a daughter of a Dachau survivor. My father, like you kept his feelings to himself about his experiences in the three concentration camps he was imprisoned in, Dauchau being the one he was liberated from.

As a Polish partisan during the war he was captured by the gestapo and tortured and then sent to Auschwitz, Flossemburg and then Dauchau. Without your bravery he might not have survived to have four children and many grandchildren. Sadly he passed away 5 years ago but I know he would want me to thank you. My father was a wonderful man and he never lost his compassion for life.

Thankyou.

John Andrews - October '05
Programms like this need to be watched by the younger generation to remind them of the sacrifices made by others for them. The thing that disturbs me today is when I see youths marking walls with nazi slogans, do they even know what it means? I remember my grandfathers expression the first time he saw this around the streets of north down earlier this year. Imagine how this would make you feel.

S. Hall - October '05
What a great programme, he may of fought for the American army but what a ambassador Northern Ireland have in Teddy Dixon.

Gerard Franklin - October '05
Enjoyed the Documentary thouroughly very emotional and touching I'd like to say thenk you to Teddy for liberating those poor souls. He said he would have liked to have got there 1 year earlier, but what if you got there 1 year later? You saved thousands, God bless you and thanks again.

Tom Egan - October '05
I was very moved by Teddy Dixon's experiences during WW11. It just goes to show you that the ordinary man walking down the street may have some very harrowing tales to tell. Send him my best wishes. He's the type of person I would like to share a pint of Guiness with.

Yours, Tom Egan.

Bob Willis - October '05
What great programme to watch, local programming at it's best.

Mr Dixon experiences are a great reminder to us who have heard of our grandfathers experiences in both world wars, to make sure our children live in the future our grandfathers fought for.

Carol Wilson - August '05
great article.........Teddy is a relative of mine.......cousin of my dad who was a U.S. citizen. Teddy is a great guy.......tough memories to wrestle with though. All of the service men dealing with the atrocities to human beings during W.W.II are the real heroes of today.

Jessica Keener
Thank you, Teddy, for sharing your difficult emotions and memories. The moment of meeting a survivor was beautiful. My father, Melvin Brilliant, was also in the Rainbow Division and helped liberate Dachau on that day. He struggles with the memories and has difficulty talking about it. I have the Rainbow Division book that has photos of that day. My father is from Boston, MA and is Jewish. He carried the mortars. Does anyone know any army men who oversaw displaced persons camps in Austria following the war? Thank you, again, for sharing your memories.

craig telford - Feb '08
im just a young man of 26yrs old, i'm from belfast myself, i would just like to thank mr dixon and all the other men and women who fought on many different fronts weither it be on the front line, medical core or supporting the family while they're loved one's where of in foriegn soil defending the rights and sivile liberty of all men women and childern across the world, your story was a great inspiration to me personally not to go off and fight in the army but to never take for granted the freedom that brave people like urself have given me. i only hope in some way that the solice you may have taken from seeing some of the people you helped liberate from those awful camps the joy and happiness they now feel inside is down to you and your fellow comrades. your story im sure could be told by many other men in that war but for me your story will always be in my heart,... thank you very much Mr Dixon ... Thnak you

 


 

RELATED WEB LINKS

Scrapbookpages - Dachau

Holocaust Encyclopedia - Dachau

42nd Rainbow Division and Dachau

More WWII YPAM articles

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