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Dachau

Concentration Camp

 

2002

 

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Just a short drive from Munich is the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp.

When the camp first opened, it was used to house political opponents of the National-Socialist party.

In 1933, the list of banned groups grew to include Jehovah’s Witnesses.  By 1939, inmates included Jews, gypsies,

and clergymen who  resisted the political coercion of the churches.  It was usual for all persons who had been condemned

in a court of law to be taken to the concentration camp for “re-education” after they had served their

 prison sentence.  Paradoxically, drawing a long prison sentence meant to be saved from imprisonment

 in the concentration camp, and that frequently meant being saved from death.

 

 

 

 

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 This is a view of one of the outer fences from the highway.

 

 

 

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 This is the main gate of Dachau, where all of the prisoners entered the camp.

The SS made a cruel ritual of the “welcome”.  It was intended to instill dread and make sure the prisoners understood their status.  Blows and insults rained down on the bewildered newcomers; their remaining possessions were confiscated, their hair was shaved off, and they were put into striped prison uniforms.

 

 

 

 

 

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On the gate entering Dachau was this infamous message:

“Work Will Make You Free”

 

 

 

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The center “Main Street” of Dachau. 

The foundations of the prisoners’ quarters are all that remain.

Straight ahead is the main building which now houses a museum.

 

 

 

 

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The outlines are all that remain of the prisoners’ buildings.

 

 

 

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One of the perimeter fences and guard towers.  If any prisoner were to step

off the walkway on the left onto the grass strip, they were shot without warning

before they even reached the ditch. Many prisoners committed suicide by

walking into this area.

 

 

 

 

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A view from the outside looking in along the same fence line.

 

 

 

 

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Nestled in the trees along the backside of the camp was this plain-looking brick building.

Inside was one of the most horrible parts of Dachau, the Crematorium.

 

 

 

 

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The crematorium ovens still stand on one end of the building.

Prisoners were hanged from the overhead beams.

 

 

 

 

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Behind the crematorium is a quiet, wooded walkway.  It is a serene area with chirping birds.

But along the path are stones like this that indicate the wall behind

the bushes was a backdrop for executions by firing squads.

 

 

 

 

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One of the plaques indicating this was a firing squad execution site.

 

 

 

 

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A wrought-iron memorial to the people who died at Dachau.

 

 

 

 

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Prisoners at Dachau. 

 

 

 

*****

 

On April 26, 1945, a secret committee authorized two prisoners to escape from the camp and find their way to the American troops whose approach could be heard by the roar of the guns.  The prisoners were successful, and two days later the Americans, who had originally planned to capture Munich first, arrived in Dachau. 

 

 

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FREEDOM! April 29, 1945

 

 

Dachau

Concentration Camp

 

 

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