Dachau 1933-1945 A world without mercy

Images: Miren Hurtado
Source: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau

This is a graphic documentary of my visit to the Memorial Site of the former Dachau Concentration Camp (Germany) in July 2012. The Site was established in 1965 on the grounds of the former concentration camp in accordance with the plans of the surviving prisoners, who had joined together to found the International Committee of Dachau.

 

2013_03_22_Never again

 

On 22 March 1933, a few weeks after Adolf Hitler had been appointed Reich Chancellor, the first Nazi concentration camp for political prisoners was set up in Dachau (State of Bavaria). The camp served as a model for all later concentration camps and as a ‘school of violence’ for the SS men under whose command it stood. In the twelve years of its existence, over 200,000 persons from all over Europe were imprisoned here and in the numerous subsidiary camps. 41,500 were murdered. On 29 April 1945, American troops liberated the survivors. Today marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of Dachau, a symbol in the collective imagination of what Nazi concentration camps represented.

 

2013_03_22_Escultura 1 Dachau

 

The infamous slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (Work will free you) was written on the front gate of the ‘Jourhaus’, the only entrance to the camp. On the roof of the main office building was written:

There is one way to freedom. This happens through obedience, honesty, cleanliness, sobriety, dedication, order, sense of sacrifice, sincerity, love for your country.”

 

2013_03_22_Campo 1 Dachau
Open area of the Dachau Concentration Camp.

The central street of the camp was located between the barracks (blocks) and two rows of poplars planted by inmates in 1938. This was their meeting point in their little free time. The trees were removed in 1948 when Dachau became a refugee camp.

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Beds of gravel indicate the location of the former Dachau barracks.

 

2013_03_22_Campo 2 Dachau
The present trees were planted in the 1980s.
The trees were added in the late 1930’s when the Red Cross came to investigate the camp and make sure prisoners were not being deprived of their human rights. The Nazi’s knew the investigation was going to happen, so they did everything they could to make the camp pass the test. It was all an illusion, though.”***

On the left side of the central street, the canteen, a study room, a library, a museum of the SS, a briefing room, and rooms to store the weapons were installed. On the right side, the infirmary with the mortuary, which grew from two to 13 blocks during the war. Since 1942, cruel medical experiments on prisoners were performed in the first blocks.

2013_03_22_Entrada bunkers Dachau
Reconstructed barracks where visitors can see how prisoners lived.

 

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The ‘Bunker’ (cell) was a dreadful place in the camp.

Prisoners were called up in the morning and afternoon. They were often forced to be stand up for hours.

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Inmates’ room.

The fence around the camp, partially rebuilt, consisted of a grass strip, a ditch, and a barbed wire fence. The SS controlled the area from seven watchtowers. If the prisoners stepped on the grass, they were shot.

2013_03_22_Alumbrado Eléctrico Dachau
The barbed wire fence surrounding the camp.

In the summer of 1940, the SS ordered the construction of a crematorium due to the increasing number of deaths in the camp. Located outside the area, the crematorium was the site where executions and murders were committed. Between 1942 and 1943, a second crematorium with four incinerators was built to be used for large-scale massacres.

2013_03_22_Crematorio Dachau
The crematorium was built outside the camp in 1940.

More information on the history of the Dachau Concentration Camp:
http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/1945.html

More information on the history of the Memorial Site:
http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/present.html

***Source: http://bit.ly/1Sz7UwN

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