André Delpech died

It is with great dismay and sorrow that the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site has learnt of the passing of Général André Delpech, long-serving president and honorary chairman of the Comité International de Dachau, on July 18, 2012, at the age of 87.

André Delpech was born on October 1, 1924, in Origny Ste Benoite. After completing secondary school in Cahors, he prepared to attend university in Toulouse and joined – at the around the same time in December 1942 – the Résistance. In 1944 Delpech was arrested together with his friend René Vaissié, the Gestapo sending him to the St. Michel prison in Toulouse and then to the Compiègne camp. From there he was deported on July 2, 1944, by the SS to the Dachau concentration camp on a torturous train transport. The prisoners spent three days and three nights crammed into cattle cars, suffering from the heat, hunger and thirst. As the train arrived at Dachau on July 5, 984 of the original 2,400 prisoners had perished on the journey in the “train de la mort” (train of death). Delpech had to endure the inhuman conditions in the “quarantine blocks” of the completely overcrowded concentration camp. On July 22 he was transferred to Neckargerach, a subcamp of Natzweiler. There the SS assigned him to a nightshift detail and forced him to perform heavy manual labor. One particularly horrific incident that remained etched in his memory was the execution of a French officer, whom the SS hung in view of everyone. A little later Delpech became seriously ill, struck by a high fever; fortunately fellow French prisoners came to his aid, placing him in the sickbay where he could slowly recuperate. He remained in Neckargerach until its liberation on May 4.

Delpech returned to France and pursued a career in the French military.  He graduated from the Ecole Supérieure de Guerre and was stationed from 1969 to 1971 as colonel and commander of the 42nd regiment in Rastatt. Later Delpech was promoted to the post of division commander before he was appointed to corps general and a commander-in-chief for forces involved in extraordinary missions.

In his role as president Général Delpech led the Comité International de Dachau from 1996 to 2006. His efforts were acknowledged with numerous honors, including Knight Commander of the Legion of Honor, the l’orde national du Mérite, and the Bavarian Order of Merit. Showing unstinting dedication, he was a key figure in all major discussions on the redevelopment of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Without his persistence and willingness to engage in productive debate, an opening of the historical entrance via the “Jourhaus” would not have been possible. He was particularly concerned with education and passing on the legacy of the survivors to following generations, always seeing these concerns as part of the idea of a unified Europe. His passing leaves an enormous void in the lives of everyone who knew him.

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