Dachau Concentration Camp

    During my recent trip to Germany, I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp which surprisingly, is just 30 miles west of Munich.  The most disturbing thing I discovered was the camp's proximity to civilian neighborhoods.  I had always thought that these camps were isolated and located in far Eastern Europe.  In fact, there is a substantial town of Dachau and the actual camp was bordered by neighborhoods during the war on 2 sides.  

    On 22 March 1933, the Dachau Concentration Camp was established on the grounds of a former ammunition factory.  It was for political opponents, Jews, clergy, and "undesirable elements."  The camp held 5,000 prisoners in order to isolate them as enemies of the Nazi regime.  The camp was expanded in 1938 and an estimated 206,000 prisoners were kept there during the war.  While Dachau was equipped to be a death camp, the gassing of prisoners was primarily carried out in the Hartheim Castle in Linz, Austria.  3,166 prisoners were transported to the castle from Dachau for execution by gassing.  A total of 31,591 prisoners did die at Dachau, many the victims of firing squads and medical experiments.  These medical experiments were conducted by a Doctor Sigmund Rascher who was trying to impress the Nazi brass of his medical credentials.  He reported directly to Himmler.  These experiments included exposure to cold and high altitude.  Many times they resulted in painful death, the data was to be used to improve flight gear for the Luftwaffe.  Furthermore,  an estimated 6,000  Russian prisoners of war who were taken to the SS Rifle Range and used for target practice by the guards.  Following the attempt on Hitlers life, several German Army Officers were also executed here.

    This indeed is a grim place and my goal is to share it with those who may never be able to visit.  Let us never forget the brutality with which man is capable of treating one another.  The map below has several hot spots that will take you on a photographic tour of the camp.

     The fate of the SS.  There are mixed accounts on this issue, from what I can piece together, a decimated US infantry battalion from the 45th Division liberated the camp.  It was the size of a company plus and commanded by a LTC.  The prisoners were being held a gun point and shots were fired.  When the smoke cleared, some of the SS were dead and the guards claimed "they tried to run for it.  This picture was supposedly taken when "Cease Fire" was yelled.  Not all of the Germans on the ground are dead.  Some are looking up at the gunner and probably just hit the dirt.    Ironically, these SS were only at the camp for 3 days, as the "real guards" had fled for fear for their lives.  

Entrance   Bunker     Barracks    Fence    Showers     Crematorium    Monuments

Map of Dachau         

 


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