Dachau

Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp opened up in Germany. It was built on an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval city of Dachau. It opened March 22, 1933. The chief of police in Munich, Heinrich Himmler, described it as ‘‘the first concentration camp for political prisoners’’. All of the camps organization was developed by Kommandant Theodor Eicke. In its 12 years as a concentration camp, Dachau held 206,206 prisoners and had 31,951 deaths.

Organization: Divided into 2 sections; the camp area and the crematorium. The camp area consisted of 69 barracks, designed to hold 250 people each. Between the kitchen and prison was the courtyard, which is where the executions of prisoners took place. The camp was surrounded by a barbed-wire gate, a ditch, and a wall with 7 guard towers.

The camp was first designed to hold German political prisoners and Jews but by 1935 it held ordinary criminals also. Dachau also had many transferred prisoners from camps that had been evacuated.

During liberation the death toll went from 50-80 a day to 200 a day. Close to the end Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered Americans to capture Dachau. 32,000 prisoners had been liberated and 300 SS camp guards were neutralized.

After liberation the U.S. Army used the camp as an internment camp. In 1948, the Bavarian government established housing for refugees on the site. The Kaserne quarters and many other buildings used by guards and trainee guards served as American military posts. It also had its own elementary school named Dachau American Elementary School.
Entrance to Dachau
Entrance to Dachau
The "Shower" (Gas Chamber)
The "Shower" (Gas Chamber)