The Dachau concentration camp, 16km north of Munich, Bavaria, was the first camp to be built by the Nazis following Hitler's rise to power in 1933. The site was occupied by a former gunpowder factory. .
Its main objective was to concentrate political prisoners who bothered the regime.
The Dachau Jourhaus (entrance building) was built in 1937 and was the only entrance to the SS space for the prisoner area. The Jourhaus housed the guard rooms from which the entrance was permanently guarded. Other rooms were used for the administration of the camp, such as the Gestapo, the commander's offices and a room for the prisoners' functional use.
New prisoners were registered in the building.
Like many other concentration camps, the building's gate grille still bears the classic and misleading words "Arbeit macht frei" (Work gives freedom).
The building has been kept intact since the liberation of the camp by the United States Army's 42nd Infantry Division on April 29, 1945.
Of the more than 206,000 prisoners who passed by, only 30,000 remained in the camp. Most of them, hungry, dirty, skeletal and sick.
The gate installed under the prison camp entrance arch remains in the same location. But a team of researchers and documentaries working in the camp in 1979, led by englishman Andrew Mollo, found that the original lettering of the inscription, made of wrought-iron, was carried in 1945 by a US soldier as a souvenir. As such, the actual sign, although extremely similar to the original, has been reinstated by the museum's maintenance staff, with slight differences in lettering.
Through this photograph in which young camp survivors watch their liberators through the gate grille, it is easier to see that the letters have actually been replaced by others whose font type is very similar to the original. This happened when the camp became a Memorail Museum.
The Lagerstrasse (main street of the country).
It is very easy to see that the prisoners' quarters have been suppressed. Of the 34 that existed while the camp was in operation, only two remain for museum display and house Memorial's administration departments. The others were marked only by the perimeter of the space they occupied.
The guard tower in the background was also obscuring by the Roman Catholic Todesangst Christi Chapel, built in 1960. Protestant and Jewish memorials were also built to the right and left of the Chapel.
Opposite view of Lagerstrasse.
Although the framing of this photograph was not as it should have been, it is still not difficult to see that the back building (where the kitchen, the showers, the laundry room and other departments operated) remains unchanged. A great work of art set before him recalls the sufferings of those who passed through the infamous concentration camp.
Prisoners lined up in the calling yard. Calls were made daily, often more than once a day, under sun, snow or rain. They could last for hours.
The Dachau Concentration Camp Commander's residence was outside the perimeter reserved for the prisoners.
It is currently not included in the Memorial exhibition complex.
The photograph on the side shows one of the camp's dormitory dormitories. What you see in the color photo is a reconstruction of the bunks of the time. You can get an idea of the layout of the beds and the space available, but the permanent atmosphere of terror, as well as the smell of these places, can never be measured.
"In 1940, as the death rate continued to increase, a camp crematorium with one incinerator was built. In the course of the mass extermination plan, a bigger buildind with a gas chamber and 4 incinerators - the so called "Barracke X" - was quickly erected in 1942. The gas chamber, which was camouflaged as a shower room, was never put into use. Thousands of prisioners who were selected for extermination were sent to the other camps or to Hartheim Castle near Linz to be gassed."
Text and vintage photo credit: Concentration Camp Dachau 1933-1945 Comité International de Dachau.
Another view of the crematorium building.
The four incinerators were in the room on the right. Clothing disinfection chambers for later reuse were on the left, and between these two areas was installed the gas chamber, which as stated in the previous photo caption, never worked.
There were still two more incinerators located in another building just a few feet away.
Following the arrival of US troops, survivors of the Dachau concentration camp demonstrate the functioning of the crematorium by pushing a corpse into one of the ovens. Dachau, Germany, April 29 to May 10, 1945.
"During the last months of the camp's existence, the death rate increased so much that even 24-hour working at the crematorium could not deal with all bodies. There was also a lack of sufficient fuel for the ovens which resulted in corpses being piled up outside like so much rubbish."
The only two differences between old and current photography are: A small concrete wall and part of the left-hand wall closure that was once made of wood, was later closed with solid brickwork.
Text and vintage photo credit: The Nazi Death Camps Then and Now - Edited by Winston Ramsey.
Another angle of the same moment. In this picture you can see better that part of the wall that was once made of wood, was later redone using solid bricks.
Following the arrival of US troops and knowledge of the terror practiced in Dachau (and the other camps), US congressmen and officers inspect the facilities to serve as witnesses to the barbarism.
The gas chamber was labeled 'bathroom' at the entrance and was a large room with airtight doors and gas-tight, sealed double-glazed lights. A small double-glazed, hermetically sealed observation eye would be used to observe the conditions of the victims.
"Although the photograph taken by T / 4 Sidney Blau on April 30, 1945 was captioned as a - Seventh Army Soldier examines a gas chamber -, it was in fact used to decontaminate clothing removed from bodies".
These clothes were not washed, but were decontaminated, especially for the elimination of lice, as they were then to be reused in other prisoners.
In the current photograph, the same door of one of the decontamination chambers.
Text and vintage photo credit: After The Battle - Dachau, nº 27.
Edited by Winston Ramsey.
Soon after the camp was released, the crematorium ovens, still with the remains of the victims, are photographed for the official record of everything that happened in the Dachau camp.
A prisoner from the recently released camp, demonstrates to an American soldier the operation of crematorium ovens.