Dachau Concentration Camp

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Dachau The First of Many

Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp, located some ten miles northwest of Munich in Bavaria and had once been an ammunitions factory. It was opened on 22 March 1933 and was originally intended to hold Hitler's political enemies. It's first Commandant was SS-Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle who was replaced on the 26 June 1933 by SS-Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke. When Eicke was appointed, Himmler had instructed him to establish a set of disciplinary codes for inmates and for camp personnel. Soon after it opened its doors, it was expanded to encompass forced labourers; Jews; habitual criminals and gypsies, as well as religious dissidents. As other concentration camps were being built, Dachau became the 'template' on how to model your camp. Auschwitz and Theresienstadt copied the slogan found above the main gate at Dachau: 'Work makes free' (or 'Work makes [one] free or 'Work shall set you free' depending on which translation you adopt). When the prison population grew, sun-camps were established, and by the end of the war in 1945, the camp had up to 100 of these sun-camps. Camp life was extremely hard as prisoners were beaten, tortured, and on many occasions simply murdered. The exact number of people incarcerated at Dachau cannot be truly known but it goes into the hundreds of thousands, and tens of thousand perished. The camp's last Commandant was SS-Obersturmbannführer Martin Gottfried Weiss who became Commandant on 26 April 1945 until 28 April 1945. The main camp was eventually liberated by American forces on 29 April 1945.