Dachau concentration camp in Dachau

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Dachau concentration camp (, ) was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany, 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, which is located in southern Germany. Opened 22 March 1933 (51 days after Hitler took power), it was 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). Heinrich Himmler, then Chief of Police of Munich, officially described the camp as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."

The camp's basic organization: layout as well as building plans, were developed by Kommandant Theodor Eicke and were applied to all later camps. He had a separate secure camp near the command center, which consisted of living quarters, administration, and army camps. Eicke himself became the chief inspector for all concentration camps, responsible for molding the others according to his model.

The entrance gate to this concentration camp carries the words "Arbeit macht frei", meaning "work will liberate".

The camp was in use from 1933 to 1960, the first twelve years as an internment center of the Third Reich. From 1933 to 1938 the prisoners were mainly German nationals detained for political reasons. Subsequently the camp was used for prisoners of all sorts from every nation occupied by the forces of the Third Reich. From 1945 through 1948 the camp was used as a prison for SS officers awaiting trial. After 1948 the German population expelled from Czechoslovakia were housed there and it was also a base of the United States. It was closed in 1960 and thereafter, at the insistence of ex-prisoners, various memorials began to be constructed there.

Estimates of the demographic statistics vary but they are in the same general range. History may never know how many people were interned there or died there, due to periods of disruption. One source gives a general estimate of over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries for the Third Reich's years, of whom two-thirds were political prisoners and nearly one-third were Jews. 25,613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and almost another 10,000 in its subcamps, primarily from disease, malnutrition and suicide. In early 1945, there was a typhus epidemic in the camp due to influx from other camps causing overcrowding, followed by an evacuation, in which large numbers of the weaker prisoners died. Toward the end of the war death marches to and from the camp caused the expiration of large but unknown numbers of prisoners. Even after liberation, prisoners weakened beyond recovery continued to die.

Over its twelve years as a concentration camp, the Dachau administration recorded the intake of 206,206 prisoners and 31,951 deaths. Crematoria were constructed to dispose of the deceased. These numbers do not tell the entire story, however. Although there is no evidence of mass murder within the camp — by methods other than poor sanitation, deprivation of medical care, withholding of nutrients, medical experiments, or beatings and shootings for infractions of the rules or at random — beginning in 1942 more than 3166 prisoners in weakened condition were transported to Hartheim Castle near Linz and there were executed by poison gas for reason of their unfitness. In 1941 and 1942 an unknown number of prisoners of war from the Soviet Union were executed by shooting at the camp's surrounding firing ranges, some for target practice and for sport.

Dachau was the first regular concentration camp established by the coalition government of National Socialist Party (Nazi Party) and the German Nationalist People's Party (dissolved on 6 July 1933). Heinrich Himmler, Chief of Police of Munich, officially described the camp as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."

Before the war the biggest groups of inmates were Germans, Austrians, and Jews. During the War the biggest groups were, in order of size; Poles, Russians, French, Yugoslavs, Jews, and Czechs. General Patton visited the Buchenwald camp after it was liberated, but not Dachau.

The Americans found approximately 32,000 prisoners, crammed 1,600 to each of 20 barracks, which had been designed to house 250 people each.

Satellite camps

During the liberation of the sub-camps surrounding Dachau (which happened on the same day as the main camp's surrender on 29 April) the advance scouts of the US Army's 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, a Nisei-manned segregated Japanese-American Allied military unit, liberated the 3,000 prisoners of the "Kaufering IV Hurlach" [1] slave labor camp.

Perisco describes an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) team (code name LUXE) leading Army Intelligence to a "Camp IV" on 29 April. "they found the camp afire and a stack of some four hundred bodies burning... American soldiers then went into Landsberg and rounded up all the male civilians they could find and marched them out to the camp. The former commandant was forced to lie amidst a pile of corpses. The male population of Landsberg was then ordered to walk by, and ordered to spit on the commandant as they passed. The commandant was then turned over to a group of liberated camp survivors."

Killing of camp guards

The American troops were so horrified by conditions at the camp that a few killed some of the camp guards after they had surrendered in what is called the Dachau massacre.

The "American Army Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau" found that about 15 Germans were killed (with another 4 or 5 wounded) after their surrender had been accepted. Two other reports collated years after the incident put the figure between 122 and 520 Germans murdered after their surrender had been accepted.

As a result of the American Army investigation court-martial, charges were drawn up against Sparks and several other men under his command but, as General George S. Patton (the then recently appointed military governor of Bavaria) chose to dismiss the charges, the witnesses to the massacre were never cross-examined in court and no one was found guilty.

  • Hjalmar Schacht, arrested 1944, released April 1945
  • Richard Schmitz
  • Kurt Schumacher, in Dachau since July 1935, sent to Flossenbürg concentration camp in 1939, returned to Dachau in 1940, released due to extreme illness 16 March 1943
  • Kurt Schuschnigg, the last fascist chancellor of Austria before the Austrian Nazi Party was installed by Hitler, shortly before the Anschluss
  • Stefan Starzyński, the President of Warsaw, probably murdered in Dachau in 1943
  • Petr Zenkl, Czech national socialist politician


  • Alfred Andersch, held 6 months in 1933
  • Hans Beimler, imprisoned but escaped. Died in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Emil Carlebach (Jewish), in Dachau since 1937, sent to Buchenwald concentration camp in 1938
  • Alfred Haag, In Dachau from 1935 to 1939, when moved to Mauthausen
  • Adolf Maislinger
  • Oskar Müller, in Dachau from 1939, freed 1945
  • Nikolaos Zachariadis (Greek), from November 1941 to May 1945


  • Fran Albreht, Slovenian poet
  • Robert Antelme, French writer
  • Raoul Auernheimer, writer, in Dachau 4 months
  • Tadeusz Borowski, writer, survived, but committed suicide in 1951
  • Adolf Fierla, Polish poet
  • Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and writer
  • Fritz Gerlich, a German journalist
  • Stanisław Grzesiuk, Polish writer, poet and singer, in Dachau from 4 April 1940, later transferred to Mauthausen-Gusen complex
  • Heinrich Eduard Jacob, German writer, in Dachau 6 months in 1938, transferred to Buchenwald
  • Stefan Kieniewicz, Polish historian
  • Juš Kozak, Slovenian playwright
  • Friedrich Bernhard Marby, German occult writer
  • Gustaw Morcinek, Polish writer
  • Boris Pahor, Slovenian writer
  • Karol Piegza, Polish writer, teacher and folklorist
  • Gustaw Przeczek, Polish writer and teacher
  • Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, German writer
  • Franz Roh, German art critic and art historian, for a few months in 1933
  • Jura Soyfer, writer, in Dachau 6 months in 1938, transferred to Buchenwald
  • Adam Wawrosz, Polish poet and writer
  • Stanislaw Wygodzki, Polish writer
  • Stevo Žigon (number: 61185), Serbian actor, theatre director, and writer, in Dachau from December 1943 to May 1945


  • Antonia, Crown Princess of Bavaria
  • Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria
  • Princess Irmingard of Bavaria
  • Franz, Duke of Bavaria
  • Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
  • Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia
  • Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria
  • Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse
  • Franz Wittelsbach, Prinz von Bayern
  • Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg
  • Prince Ernst von Hohenberg
  • Princess Sophie of Hohenberg


  • Charles Delestraint, French General and leader of French resistance. Executed by Gestapo in 1945
  • Jan Ertmański, Polish boxer who competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
  • Alexander von Falkenhausen
  • Brother Theodore, comedian.
  • Franz Halder, former Chief of Army General Staff
  • Zoran Mušič, Slovenian painter
  • Alexander Papagos, future Prime Minister of Greece
  • Ernest Peterlin, Slovenian military officer
  • Tullio Tamburini, Italian police chief
  • Fritz Thyssen, businessman and early supporter of Hitler, later an opponent
  • Bogislaw von Bonin, Wehrmacht officer, opponent
  • Morris Weinrib, father of Rush singer, bassist, keyboardist Geddy Lee.

See also

  • Karl von Eberstein
  • List of Nazi concentration camps
  • List of subcamps of Dachau
  • Standing cell


External links

Source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp