Dachau Concentration Camp was the first camp that was set up by the Nazis, originally propagandized to keep the socially inappropriate and criminals when it was actually their very first step to eradicate the Jews. The Dachau Camp served its importance as the rest of the camps that followed modeled after it.
60,0000 people resided here over a period of 12 years, locked by an eerie gate that says “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”, meaning “work makes you free” – which is really an illusion because there was never any freedom except hard labor, inhumane treatment and starvation.
The camp ground are vast. The pebbled square was where roll calls were once carried out.
The camp is now a memorial site, with posters, exhibits and monuments that illustrate a terrible piece of German history.
Before you visit the rest of the memorial site, I would recommend to watch the documentary film (available in German, English, French & Italian) first, where it tells you about the history of Dachau where human lives could not be anymore worthless. The film has narrative breaks, letting the stark black and white pictures do the talking. The facial expressions of people of bones and skins were hollow with an eternity of darkness; they fought for food, scraping off every bit of crumbs and gravy to survive. Many died of disease, hunger, torture and inhumane experiments.
Human experiments involved altitude and hypothermia experiments, where”subjects” were given pilot suits and immersed in cold seawater to mimick a pilot-fallen-at-sea situation. Tracking machines were attached to them to see which organs collapsed first. Thirst experiments were carried out as well where they were fed salty water to find out how long humans could survive without water in a sea environment.
Those that died were cremated but when when coal ran out, the bodies were just carried out by the cart, operated by the Jews themselves. Even the dogs had better treatment as they were part of the army that guarded the Jews.
The memorial site recaps everything you have seen in the film and takes you on a historical tour of the Jews’ footpath through this bizzare camp. The people arrived, going through the gate that led them to the road of no return. They rendered everything with their particulars taken down on these score cards.
They were stripped naked, showered and given camp clothing. The picture above was where the original shower area was, now used for exhibition.
The first row of barrack including the interior were rebuilt to replicate the living conditions of the camp.
The beds are super cramped it’s like sleeping in a coffin. The design of the beds could fit about 60 people in the room !
Two evocative monument and sculpture are so realistically portrayed one would immediate associate with death and hopelessness. The monument above is found at the roll call square depicting bony bodies sprawled all over. The sculpture of “Death March” is based on an actual event that happened before the defeat of the Nazis at the end of WWII. The Nazis wanted to prevent the liberation of the camp by Americans, and forced thousands of people to march south, with many died along the way.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Official Website
Address : KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau. Alte Römerstraße 75, D – 85221 Dachau
Tel : +49(0)8131 – 66997 – 0
Opening Hours : Daily 9 am – 5 pm, closed on 24th of Dec.
Admission Fees: 3.50 Euros, inclusive of audio guide.
Getting there (from Munich)
Purchase the XXL Single Day Ticket, it will cover your transportation from Munich – Dachau – Munich, and transportation within Dachau (available from vending machines and counters at train stations).
Once you have reached Dachau train station, bus stops are clearly labeled with direction, so just look for bus 726 to get to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.