Dachau Concentration Camp




Published on Oct 25, 2013

Dachau concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau) was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries which Germany occupied or invaded. It was finally liberated in 1945.

Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, floggings, the so-called tree or pole hanging, and standing at attention for extremely long periods. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands that are undocumented.

In the postwar years it served to hold SS soldiers awaiting trial, after 1948, it held ethnic Germans who had been expelled from eastern Europe and were awaiting resettlement, and also was used for a time as a United States military base during the occupation. It was finally closed for use in 1960.

There are several religious memorials within the Memorial Site, and there is no charge to visit.

After the takeover of Bavaria on 9 March 1933, Heinrich Himmler, then Chief of Police in Munich, began to speak with the administration of an unused gunpowder and munitions factory. He toured the site to see if it could be used for quartering protective-custody prisoners. The Concentration Camp at Dachau was opened 22 March 1933, with the arrival of about 200 prisoners from Stadelheim Prison in Munich and the Landsberg fortress (where Hitler had written Mein Kampf during his imprisonment). Himmler announced in the Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten newspaper that the camp could hold up to 5,000 people, and described it as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners" to be used to restore calm to Germany. It became the first regular concentration camp established by the coalition government of the National Socialist Party (Nazi Party) and the German Nationalist People's Party (dissolved on 6 July 1933).

Jehova's Witnesses, homosexuals, and emigrants are sent to KZ Dachau after the 1935 passage of the Nuremberg Laws which institutionalized racial discrimination. In early 1937, the SS, using prisoner labor, initiated construction of a large complex capable of holding 6,000 prisoners. The construction was officially completed in mid-August 1938. More political opponents, and over 11,000 German and Austrian Jews were sent to the camp after the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938. Sinti and Roma in the hundreds are sent to the camp in 1939, and over 13,000 prisoners are sent to the camp from Poland in 1940.

The gate at the Jourhaus building through which the prisoner's camp was entered contains the slogan, Arbeit macht frei, or 'Work will make you free.'
The prisoners of Dachau concentration camp originally were to serve as forced labor for a munition factory, and to expand the camp. It was used as a training center for SS guards and was a model for other concentration camps. The camp was about 990 feet wide and 1,980 feet long (300 × 600 m) in rectangular shape. The prisoner's entrance was secured by an iron gate with the motto "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will make you free"). This reflected Nazi propaganda which trivialized concentration camps as labor and re-education camps, when in fact forced labor was used as a method of torture.

As of 1938, the procedure for new arrivals occurred at the Schubraum, where prisoners were to hand over their clothing and possessions "There we were stripped of all our clothes. Everything had to be handed over: money, rings, watches. One was now stark naked."

Text Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp

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