The 29th Infantry Division
In 1985, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the US Army's Center of Military History began a program to honor US Army divisions that took part in the liberation of Nazi camps. To date, 36 divisions, including the 29th Infantry Division, have been recognized as liberating units.
The 29th Infantry Division was created in July 1917, a few months after the United States entered World War I. It served in France in 1918. In early 1941, the "Blue and Gray" division was reactivated for service and became part of the first Allied assault on the Normandy beaches on D-Day (June 6, 1944), the massive invasion of western Europe. After landing at Omaha Beach, the unit pushed westward to participate in the attack on the French port of Brest.
In October 1944, the 29th advanced eastward. It reached the German border by the end of the year. In February 1945, it drove into Germany and in April was active in the fierce fighting in the Ruhr region. By war's end, the “Blue and Gray” had reached the Elbe River.
As the 29th Infantry Division advanced into Germany, it liberated Dinslaken, a civilian labor camp.
The 29th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the US Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1995.
Casualty figures for the 29th Infantry Division, European theater of operations:
- Total battle casualties: 20,620
- Total deaths in battle: 4,824
The "Blue and Gray" was coined as the nickname of the 29th Infantry Division by the division's commander during World War I. The name commemorates the lineage of the mid-Atlantic states' National Guard units that formed the division, many with service on both sides during the Civil War.
Critical Thinking Questions
- What challenges did Allied forces face when they encountered the camps and sites of other atrocities?
- What challenges faced survivors of the Holocaust upon liberation?