Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial


"May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men"inscription on a memorial at Dachau

Prototype for misery

CHILLING: The gate at the former Dachau concentration camp.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they didn’t waste any time getting vicious.

They built the concentration camp at Dachau , their first, that same year. It became the prototype for all Nazi death camps and they say about 43,000 people died here.

As shocking and sobering as it is the camp is well worth a visit, if only to come to grips with one of Munich’s darkest chapters.

Beyond the new visitor’s centre lies the old camp gates, emblazoned with the iron slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (Work sets you free).

Shocking insights

Around the corner there’s a well-presented museum in a former utility building. This attempts to explain the concentration camp system and how the Nazis came to power.
There’s a small cinema showing a 20min documentary film in another room. There’s also an exhibit on medical experiments performed on victims. These included unnecessary surgery and seeing how long people could survive in freezing water before attempting to revive them with methods including electric shocks and body warmth provided by prostitutes.

dachau memorial
MOVING: A sculpture depicting the victims.

You can also see a recreated barracks
where victims lived like proverbial sardines.
Among memorials at Dachau is one with the slogan "Never Again" written in five languages.

At the back of the site there’s a Jewish memorial, a Catholic chapel and a Protestant church.
They’re close to a crematorium which was used to burn the dead. There’s also a gas chamber here which was disguised as a shower block. The official line is that the chamber was never used.
Dachau was ordered built by Munich police chief Heinrich Himmler, who later became the chief of the SS and Gestapo secret police.

Ample victims

WARNING: An inscription wall at the memorial.
Dachau Concentration Camp was official known as a "Protective custody camp".

The memorial you see today was part of a much larger complex including stone mines and weapons factories.

Rampant disease and malnutrition accounted for most of the deaths here.
1945 was the deadliest year when over 500 Soviet Prisoners of War killed by firing squad alone.
More than 200,000 prisoners from over 30 countries were interned. Scores of them were sent on to larger concentration camps such as Auschwitz Berkinau. Many victims were Jews from Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe.

Other victims included ethnic Roma (known as gypsies), homosexuals, communists, priests, several members of the Bavarian royal family and other Nazi opponents. American troops were stunned when they came to liberate the camp on April 29, 1945.
They were confronted by victims, barely beyond skeletons, 1,600 people in each of the barracks designed for 250.

Hard to grasp

dachau museum
LESSONS: The meuseum at the Dachau Concentration Camp traces the history of the slaughter.

I don’t think we can grasp today just how overwhelming it must have been.
Some of the Americans were so disgusted they started shooting German camp guards after their surrender. The official toll was 15, other reports suggest up
to 520 Germans were killed in retaliation. Dachau later became a refugee camp for Czechoslovakian Germans kicked out after the war.

I’ve only been to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial once, and I felt so overwhelmed after 10 minutes of that bloody documentary film I had to get the hell out of there. It’s only by visiting paces like this that you understand how evil human beings can be to one another. Let’s hope that it happens "Never Again".

The Details

Location: The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial is at Alte Römer Strasse 75.
Phone: 081 31 66 99 70
Website: www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
Cost: Admission is free.
Directions: Take S-Bahn No. 2 to Dachau, which takes about 20min from the Hauptbahnhof. From the station, you have to catch bus No. 724 or 726. You’ll need a ticket that covers zone 2.

Take a tour

Please consider these tours of Dachau Concentration Camp.

And here is the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial on the map.
If you have a chance to try and visit the town of Dachau as well. It's beautiful and has been a haven for artists for centuries - long before the Nazis came to be. There's a palace, Schloss Dachau, at the top of the hill.

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