April 29th is marked by the liberation of Dachau, the convening of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and President Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia. It is also an important day in Maryland which voted not to join the confederacy on this day.
Maryland Rejects Secession
Under pressure to call a vote on secession, Maryland Governor Thomas Hicks convened a special session of the General Assembly in pro-union Frederick. The House of Delegates voted decisively 53–13 against secession, though they also voted not to reopen rail links with the North that had been closed, and they requested that Lincoln remove Union troops from Maryland. A few weeks later, however, Union troops took over Baltimore and declared martial law.
While not the first concentration camp to be liberated, it was one of the first liberated by Americans. Among those present was filmmaker and Army Signal Corps Colonel George Stevens who decided to document the horror and whose footage played a key role in the Nuremberg trials.
The role of Stevens and other great American filmmakers such as Frank Capra is part of the documentary – Five Who Came Back.
Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal Convenes
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo Trials or the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, was convened and indicted former Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo and 28 former Japanese leaders for war crimes.
Interestingly, among the charges were allegations of torture based on what we now call waterboarding. Seven defendants, including Tojo, ultimately were sentenced to death and executed.
Nixon Invades Cambodia
President Nixon made the decision to send U.S. troops into neutral Cambodia attack approximately 40,000 Viet Cong troops on the eastern border. He announced the decision the next day which triggered widespread protests on campus’ nationwide culminating in the National Guard killing four students at Kent State on May 4th. The presence of Vietnamese troops and Nixon’s invasion also may have contributed to the collapse of the Cambodian government that brought Pol Pot to power and the Killing Fields that followed.