Germany - Dachau Concentration Camp

This Concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in 1933, intended to hold political prisoners. It 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. Opened by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded.

The SS had affixed the motto "Arbeit Macht Frei", meaning "Work will make you free" to the camp gate. The motto reflected the Nazi propaganda meant to trivialize the concentration camp for outsiders as a "labor and re-education camp." The motto also characterized the cynical mentality of the SS, who implemented forced labor as a method of torture and as an extension of the terror of concentration life.

Roll-call Square

Between the International Monument and the two barracks is the area that was once covered by the roll call square.

he area was able to hold forty to fifty thousand persons and served mainly as the assembly point for the prisoner roll calls, during which the prisoners were counted every morning and evening, or for carrying out punishments.

The Shunt Room

The admission procedure to the Dachau concentration camp was completed in the shunt room; this procedure was brutal and meant for the prisoners the loss of personal rights, liberty and human autonomy.

Generally the procedure for interning the prisoners in the camp began in the rooms of the political department, whose buildings were still located in the SS compound to the southwest in front of the Jourhaus

The current exhibition shows the former shunt room in its original spatial division. Tables were set up along the axis of the pillars, dividing the room into two parts.

Behind the tables stood the SS men and the prisoners assigned to work there; they completed registration for all of the newly arrived prisoners, and collected their clothes and personal possessions.

Here are some of the Photos inside the Shunt Room:

As I continued to wander around this room, I noticed a man looking out the this small window. For some reason, I couldn't shift my eyes away from him, there was something about his emotion that took me from that painful moment of the history:

"The prisoners got off in front of the Jourhaus and entered the barracks of the political department. There their personal details were recorded. The protective custody order had meanwhile arrived, stating why one had been arrested and so on. Your profile was photographed through the famous system: a needle was inserted in the chair, the SS man did not want to always have to say: “Next!” He simply pressed a button. The needle pricked up into your ass. The prisoner jumped up – no need to explain any further – then it was the turn of the next prisoner. Then one entered the camp through the Jourhaus. (…) After that off to the Schubraum. There we were stripped of all our clothes. Everything had to be handed over: money, rings, watches. One was now stark naked."

Exhibition panel with photographs of former prisoners, whose destinies are presentated in the exhibition.

The Prisoner Bath

The baths were the last station of the admission procedure. This is where newly arrived prisoners had their heads shaved, were disinfected, showered and then sent to the barracks dressed in their prisoner clothing. Those already imprisoned came here once a week at the beginning - later less frequently - to "bathe," a procedure that according to the recollection of many survivors often involved harassment. At the same time though, many also tell of the relief at being able to finally wash themselves with a piece of soap or to feel briefly the luxury of warm water after the frequently long transports or weeks of imprisonment.