Dachau, Concentration Camp History and Tours

Dachau

Detailed description of Camp Dachau with a brief tour of history. Where is it located, what is the landmark today.

Camp Dachau is a terrible reminder of the horrors of fascism. Today there is a memorial that attracts 800,000 tourists every year. They come to see for themselves the concrete wall behind the metal wire that separated the life of the old Bavarian town with the beautiful Dachau Castle from the inhuman abuse of prisoners, and to honor the memory of the prisoners.

The only entrance to the detention area (original building)

History of Dachau

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of its kind to be established in Nazi Germany. It opened in 1933, two months after the Nazis came to power. The original purpose of the camp was to reform Germans who, by their antisocial behavior, negatively influenced the Aryan race. Alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and political opponents were taken there:

  • Communists;
  • opposition priests.

After a few months of torture and correctional labor they could be released.

The Dachau Concentration Camp is said to have been set up by Hitler as revenge on the townspeople for their refusal to support him in the 1933 elections. It was built on the site of a former munitions factory, on an area of 230 ha. The direction of the winds was taken into account during construction so that the smoke from the crematorium furnaces would often obscure the town, which was disobedient to the Führer.

Then the prisoners of war started to arrive there:

Prisoners were taken on trains in cattle cars, and many died on the way.

Memorial Art Exhibit

During the war the Nazis practiced medical experiments: they tested the effect of new medications on prisoners and observed the effects of environmental factors on the body. Pseudo-doctors murdered 70,000 victims. They mocked the victims by placing them in pressure chambers and skinning them alive.

Hitler’s goal was to create a super warrior. To do this, they studied the capabilities of the human body. In particular, there was a special unit of adolescents on whom experiments were conducted to determine how human growth could change.

Prisoners were specially infected with deadly diseases in order to test treatment methods. Tuberculosis patients were kept in a special box. The diseases were allowed to develop to a critical stage and then antidotes were administered. Malaria and other tropical diseases were contracted.

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Crematorium buildings.

Torture and executions were also on a massive scale. Soviet soldiers were used as live targets to teach the SS recruits how to shoot. Guilty men were suspended by their hands, tied behind their backs, and as a result they lost mobility.

On a tour of Dachau you can also see the gas chamber, although it was not as widely used here as at Auschwitz. The room was disguised as a shower room. The victims were forced to undress and were directed into the shower, where lethal gas was released instead of water. The effects of the various poisons were tested by dissecting the bodies afterwards. They were also frozen alive.

Group portrait of former political prisoners. This picture was taken by Colonel Alexander Zabin (USA), who visited Dachau in mid-May 1945.

The gruesome practice was carried out throughout the 12 years of the Nazi concentration camp’s existence. By April 1945, it was ordered that no one came out alive.

In April 1945, a group of several thousand prisoners were sent on a death march into the mountains. Two of them managed to escape and encountered American troops approaching Munich. After their story, the Americans turned in the direction of the camp and freed the survivors. The 600 SS and Wehrmacht soldiers were shot on the same day.

Prisoner’s barracks

The panoramas of Dachau reflect all the gruesome details of the wartime past. There are two crematoria on the grounds – an old and a new one, built after the first one could no longer cope with the flow of corpses. The new one had four ovens, in which two bodies were placed simultaneously.

None of the 34 barracks survived, but two were purpose-built for the memorial. They were restored with the following furnishings: bunks for the prisoners, sanitary rooms and lavatories. Originally they were intended for two hundred prisoners, but at the height of the war each housed up to 2,000 prisoners of war. The rest of the buildings had only foundations, each of which was marked with a sign saying what was there:

  • a dwelling hut;
  • a medical box;
  • kitchen.
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Another place to see in Dachau is the museum, which contains personal belongings of prisoners and photographic materials.

There is a monument to the dead Jews and a monument to the common man. There is a temple where believers of all faiths can pray for the murdered.

Entrance to the camp

Entrance to the compound is free. You have to pay 3,5 EUR for the audio guide which is also available in Russian. It tells the story of the concentration camp in detail with interviews of survivors.

Groups are not provided in the museum, so if you want to see the exposition with a guide, you need to book a tour to Dachau from Munich. The cost of a Russian speaking guide for 4 hours is 280 EUR per group.

Dachau opening hours are from 9:00 to 17:00. Monday is day off.

You can easily find the memorial by car according to the signs in Dachau. The way from the center of Munich will take about half an hour. There is a large free parking lot at the complex.

You can come by train S2, and from the train station go straight to the ticket office on a free bus number 726.

Visiting the museum will leave a hard impression, but it is the only way to touch the terrible pages of the history of World War II. Reviews of tourists about this place contain not only heavy reflections, which it suggests, but also words of gratitude to those who preserve these heavy details of Nazi atrocities for the edification of future generations.

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum (KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau)

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum

The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum is about 20 kilometers from Munich. It is located near the city of the same name, on the grounds of a former munitions factory. It is a holy place which reminds mankind of the atrocious crimes of the Nazis and preserves the memory of those who were tortured during their rule.

The memorial museum recreates a complete picture of the lives and deaths of the prisoners. Its creators have tried to recreate the events of those terrible years as accurately as possible. Every year, many visitors from around the world go there to pay their respects to the victims and kneel before them. Entrance to the museum is free, you can visit it any day except December 24.

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Building of 'new' crematorium

History of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum

The idea to create a museum-memorial was born 10 years after the victory over fascism. But its history began on March 22, 1933. That was the day the Nazi regime opened the Dachau concentration camp.

Concentration Camp

It was located on the grounds of an abandoned Royal Bavarian munitions and gunpowder factory. All those whom the Nazis considered unworthy of their “race” were held there. The place of terror existed for 12 years. During this time, more than 200,000 people from more than 40 countries were held in the concentration camp and its satellite camps. More than 41500 people died there from torture, various diseases and starvation, as well as during the liberation of the camp.

Jewish memorial

After the liberation.

On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Army liberated the Dachau concentration camp. It was a displaced persons camp until July of that year, and then Nazi criminals were held there. In 1948, the Bavarian government decided to found a refugee camp at the site of the terror.

Opening of the memorial

In 1955, the surviving prisoners took the initiative to create a place of remembrance and commemoration on the grounds of the concentration camp. The museum-memorial was opened 10 years later. In 1997 it was reconstructed and in 2003 the world saw a new main exhibition, which tells the story of the terrible “journey” of the prisoners – from life in the concentration camp to the liberation of the camp.

Memorial plaque

What to see

Already at the entrance to the museum-memorial every visitor understands that the place keeps the gruesome memories of the Nazi regime. On the gate you can see the inscription: “Work will make you free.” This is the Nazi motto under which they hid the true purpose of their concentration camps. The museum has both permanent and special exhibitions that reveal, step by step, the worst crimes against humanity.

Permanent exhibitions

Permanent exhibitions are comprised of administrative and service buildings. Some of them were reconstructed according to archive photos and testimonies of eyewitnesses.

Reconstruction of a barrack where prisoners lived

Main exhibition

The main exhibition is located in the former staff quarters. It consists of six sections arranged in 13 sections. The exhibition is regularly supplemented with new exhibits, media and video stations. There are also flags in the building that provide information about the prisoners.

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The first two sections tell the story of the National Socialist camp system and the path to the Nazi regime. Nine exhibitions are devoted to the history of the concentration camps. Visitors become acquainted with the life of prisoners in three stages: from 1933 to 1939, from 1939 to 1941 and from 1941 to 1945.

The last exhibition reveals post-war events and the history of the opening of the memorial. At the end of the main exhibit is a memorial room with more than 130 memorial stones and plaques.

Camp Prison.

This building was called a bunker by the prisoners. Here the Nazis used to carry out punitive measures, and afterwards held convicted Nazis. The exhibition includes an exhibition of the history of the building, as well as individual cells that tell the story of the prisoners who sat there. There is a cell dedicated to Georg Elser, who carried out an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler’s life.

Barracks and Camp Alley

In the middle of the camp there is the so called camp alley which runs from the place where the prisoners were called to the Chapel of the Pardonable Agony of Christ. On the right and left sides of the alley were the barracks. There were 34 barracks. Today their only outlines are visible, but several barracks were reconstructed.

Crematorium

There were two crematoriums on the premises of the concentration camp, the “old” and the “new. The first was in use until 1943, but then the Nazis built a second one due to the growing number of victims. The “old” crematorium is now closed to the public and can only be viewed from the outside. “The new crematorium is open to the public.

Inside the crematorium

Other exhibits

In addition to the above-mentioned exhibits, several other exhibits should be noted that are located within the camp. These include the gas chamber, where prisoners were martyred, and the watchtower, from where the Nazis kept watch over their prisoners day and night.

There is also a Russian chapel and a Protestant Church of Reconciliation on the grounds of the museum-memorial. And around the camp was dug a ditch, to which prisoners were not allowed to approach. If anyone approached it, they were immediately shot.

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Special Exhibitions

Special exhibitions are regularly renewed. Works by artists and photographers dedicated to the concentration camp Dachau are exhibited here. For example, the exhibition “They Gave Us Hope Again” tells of the fate of pregnant women imprisoned in the camp, and photographs by Mark Mühlhaus show survivors at the site of their suffering. Vlasto Kopacz’s drawings depicting the lives of prisoners that he made in secret during his imprisonment evoke shivers and consternation.

Inside a barrack

Archive and library

An archive has been created in the museum-memorial. Written documents are mostly represented by copies, and many photographs are reproductions. The archive is located in the administrative room of the memorial. Documents that relate to the activities of the Dachau concentration camp and its “satellites” are collected there.

There is also a scientific library in the museum. It contains publications about the activities of the Nazis in general and specifically in the camp. Of particular value are the reports of concentration camp survivors published after the war. The library and the archives can be visited for free by appointment.

How to get there

The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Museum can be reached by train and bus. Visitors arriving in private vehicles will have to pay for parking.

Entrance to the camp

By train

The nearest station to the museum is “Dachau Stadt”. It is 2.2 km on the west side of the memorial. Suburban trains from Munich and other nearby cities arrive there. In 2.5 km to the south-west of the concentration camp there is another station – “Dachau Bahnhof”. S2, RB and RE trains run to it. From there you can get to the memorial by bus or cab.

By bus

About 400 meters northeast of the museum there is a bus stop, “Dachau, Kloster Karmel,” which can be reached by route 744. And 420 meters southwest of the memorial is the “Dachau, KZ-Gedenkstätte” stop, which is reached by bus number 726.

By cab

It is also possible to reach the memorial by cab. Popular Dachau services are Taxi Er Dachau, HalloTaxi Dachau, Taxiunternehmen Hamdi Kuscu.

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