Spotted here and there, thick cement bunkers had been erected by the SS to defend against outside interference, and included gun ports facing inwards to prevent inmates from escaping. After sixty years, these bunkers are in surprisingly good condition.
The entire camp was encircled with barbed wire fencing, leaving approximately thirty feet of flat ground running parallel with the fencing which was considered to be no-man's land. In addition to the barbed wire fencing, barbed wire was also strung knee high about eight feet from the fence, and a moat was filled with water, more barbed wire, and sharpened stakes facing inward.
Any prisoner found stepping within this strip of land was immediately shot to death by guards on the towers, and if a prisoner made it as far as the wire, then he was left to die as a warning to other prisoners considering an escape attempt.
Many prisoners commited suicide this way, finding life as it existed just not worth continuing.
A 6x8 foot square unheated concrete cell, with a heavy wooden door, small peephole, and boarded windows, with an open toilet in the corner, shared with as many as seven other inmates on a temporary basis, sleeping in rotation...considered luxury by unknowing inmates in the general population.
Many of these cells were used as torture chambers, and prisoners would be left in the dark for days on end. Flogging the prisoner was a favoured past time, and the prisoner himself was expected to count each lash of the whip. If he lost count, or fell unconscious, the count would start all over. Tree or pole standing was another method of torture, where the prisoner was strung from a pole or tree by his bound hands, often wrenching muscles or pulling joints from their sockets.
Often the halls would echo with cries from prisoners being softened up by the SS guards, and a walk down the length of the central hallway was the last thing a prisoner may have seen.
Built in 1942, the new crematorium had four additional ovens to accomodate the greatly increasing need, adding to the one heavily used oven in the old crematorium located just a few hundred yards away.
Be aware that the additional pictures show the ovens in great detail.
Over 200,000 registered prisoners went through the concentration camp at Dachau, and out of those, there were 31,951 registered deaths. I say registered, because many mass shootings of Soviet prisoners were never recorded, nor were the forced marches of prisoners to locations outside of Dachau's gates.
These ovens operated at peak efficiency, and the overflow was later found buried in mass graves. At no time were the ovens used in conjunction with gassing of prisoners.
The first crematorium built on the site of Dachau's concentration camp is located a few hundred feet from the second newer building. It proved to wholly inadequate to the demand, and more ovens had to be added to improve efficiency. Built in 1940, it handled 11,000 cremations alone until the construction of the new site.
Gas chambers were included in the construction of the new crematorium, but were never actually used in Dachau. No one seems to know why. The design called for an 'undressing room', a 'shower bath', and a 'mortuary', and the shower heads which would be used to dispurse the poisonous gas, had 'NOT' been constructed with the required pipelines to order to make them functional.
This does not mean that inmates of Dachau were never gassed, in fact, thousands were transported to Hartheim, near Linz (Austria) particularly for extermination.
It is believed that an intentional design flaw may have saved hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.
This monument has been installed at the site of the two crematoriums, located halfway between both. It is in memorium to all who died in Dachau. The statue is very forlorn looking, wearing oversized shoes, and an obviously reclaimed greatcoat. The figure is gaunt, with a shaven head, and a sad faraway look in his eyes.
Very powerful. I recall this monument every time I think of Dachau.
The attached photo shows the overall size of Dachau in 1945 after liberation. For an excellent account of the days before, during and after liberation, see this link... http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/index.html
Arbeit Macht Frei - Work makes you free.
These words can be found at the gates of a place where one of the greatest crimes of humanity started off.
On March 21 1933, Heinrich Himmler ordered that a concentration camp be erected at Dachau. This was one of the first of the camps that would serve the Nazi's vicious campaign of genocide.
Of the more than 200,000 prisoners who passed through the concentration camp until 1945, 32,000 died officially. Thousands of prisoners who were not registered lost their life at the Dachau concentration camp as well. They died of starvation, disease, exhaustion, degradation, from blows, and by torture; they were shot, hung, and killed by injections.
In the course of the war, the Dachau concentration camp increasingly became a site of mass murder: from October 1941 many thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were brought to Dachau and shot. Other prisoners, condemned for execution on Gestapo orders, were transported to Dachau and executed.
A large number of prisoners were abused by SS doctors for medical experiments; an unknown number of prisoners suffered agonizing deaths in the course of atmospheric pressure, hypothermia, malaria and many other experiments.
Beginning in January 1942, more than 3,000 prisoners were sent to the mental home at Hartheim Castle near Linz on the so-called invalid transports and murdered with poison gas.
The horror finally ended on April 29, 1945 when the US Army rolled into town and liberated the prisoners.
The crematorium grounds were strictly separated from the prisoners' camp. In the SS camp the path branched off to the crematorium area in front of the Jourhaus. Only the crematorium work detail was permitted to enter this area.
Still preserved today are the first crematorium built in 1940 and the so-called barrack X, built in 1942/43. The gas chamber installed in barrack X was never put into operation for the planned mass extermination.
This area also served as an execution site where prisoners were hung from the rafters.
When the Nazis arrested the Communists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested the Jews,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Jew.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.
-- Der Weg ins Freie, Martin Niemöller (F.M. Hellbach, Stuttgart, 1946)
On the roll-call area the prisoners were counted every morning and evening and assigned to their work details. Punishment measures were announced and carried out here publicly to intimidate the prisoners.
The roll-call area was bordered by the maintenance building; to mock the prisoners its roof carried the following inscription: "There is one path to freedom. Its milestones are obedience, diligence, honesty, orderliness, cleanliness, sobriety, truthfulness, sacrifice and love of the fatherland." The prisoners were forced to look at this saying at every roll call.
The more the number of prisoners increased the longer and more exhausting the roll-call procedure became. Dead prisoners had to be brought to roll call and included in the count.
A touching memorial located in the Concentration Camp walls.
"May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 - 1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defense of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow man"
Thousands of prisoners lived in cramped conditions. Many did not survive, those who did were tortured. Inside the camp you can see a memorial with various exhibits, films, the inside of cells, the ovens that were used, the barb wire fence and guard towers surrounding the place. Let us never forget what happened before.
I was in Dachau during my military service. We were brought here with the intension to show us what wrong power can do and that we shouldn't obey orders against the Grundgesetz (German Constitution).
The camp was erected in 1933 to arrest political prisoners, particularly communists. Later also Jews, Gypsy, homeless people, homosexuals and others were arrested here.
Of the more than 200,000 prisoners who passed through the concentration camp until 1945, 32 000 died officially. However, the actual number of victims is much higher.
Today the camp is a museum. Open daily from 9am to 5pm (Monday closed). Admission is free.