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Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp - Shocking story

Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp

Got a shocking history lesson today about life and death at Dachau concentration camp, Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau. This was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in 1933 in Germany.

Photo. Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp. Dachau served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi concentration camps that followed. 

The purpose was to hold political prisoners, but it developed into much more than that. The camp is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany.

Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opened in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) became chancellor of Germany. In 1965, a memorial site was etablished here. Today, it`s possible to visit some of the camp's historical buildings. You can also get access to a library and special exhibitions containing materials related to Dachau's history.

The gate to the main entrance had the words "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Makes You Free") at the top.The first camp was a re-use of an old munitions factory from the first world war that existed on the site. The camp completed in 1938 was designed for 6,000 prisoners but often held much more. The camp was surrounded by electrified fences and watchtowers. 

In 1942, the crematorium area was constructed next to the main camp. It included the old crematorium and the new crematorium (Barrack X) with a gas chamber. There is no credible evidence that the gas chamber in Barrack X was used to murder human beings. Instead, prisoners underwent "selection"; those who were judged too sick or weak to continue working were sent to the Hartheim "euthanasia" killing center near Linz, Austria. Several thousand Dachau prisoners were murdered at Hartheim. Further, the SS used the firing range and the gallows in the crematoria area as killing sites for prisoners. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/dachau

In Dachau, as in other Nazi camps, German physicians performed medical experiments on prisoners, including high-altitude experiments using a decompression chamber, malaria and tuberculosis experiments, hypothermia experiments, and experiments testing new medications. Prisoners were also forced to test methods of making seawater potable and of halting excessive bleeding.

Hundreds of prisoners died or were permanently disabled as a result of these experiments.

Various badges on a Dachau memorial. Nazi concentration camp badges i Dachau, primarily triangles, were part of the system of identification in Nazi camps. Sculpture represents three links in a chain. It symbolize the unity between the prisoners. Red triangles were worn by the Communists, Social Democrats and other political prisoners and blue by the foreign workers, mostly Poles, who were brought to the Dachau camp. The Jews always wore two triangles with a yellow triangle on top of another color, usually red which signified a political prisoner. The following description is based on the badge coding system used before and during the early stages of the war in the Dachau concentration camp, which had one of the more elaborate coding systems. Single triangles (source: Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camp_badge

Stein Morten Lund, 2nd November 2018

Additional information

https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/dachau

 


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