Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp was used for more than Jewish internment but was an integral part of WWII History.

April 29, 1945: Dachau concentration camp liberated by US

The atrocities that occurred during the late 1930's and early 1940's in Western and Central Europe should never be forgotten, and never be denied.

Dachau concentration camp was established in March, 1933. It was the first of several concentration camps that were designed and built for the Nazis. This particular concentration camp was built just north of Munich in Germany.

The design of Dachau was the concept of German Kommandant Theodor Eicke. Once it was designed and built, the same design was used for all other camps across Europe. Eicke became the primary inspector of all camps during their building and after, in order to ensure proper operations of the camps.

In 1933 the camp held around 4800 prisoners. Most of these prisoners were German Communists, Social Democrats, and political dissidents that were against Nazi rule. With time the prison became host to others including gypsies, homosexuals and Jehovah's Witness.

In the beginning there were not many Jews interred in Dachau. Usually those who were convicted of violating the Nuremberg Laws (1935) were brought to Dachau. The Nuremberg Laws indicated that Jews living in Germany were a minority, not to be associated with the German Aryan race. In addition they were given authority to create their own cultural behaviors, including schools, businesses, and religious facilities so long as they never interfered with the laws that were created by the German majority. Jewish and Aryan were not to marry and German women who were under 45 years of age were not to be employed by a Jewish household. The Jews were no longer German but were titled "nationals". When the Nazi party came into power they translated this legislation to indicate that Jews had not rights as citizens of Germany.

The early prisoners of Dachau were also the construction crews. They worked in deplorable and dangerous conditions, building new compounds and cleaning out old munitions bunkers. Dachau concentration camp included a medical facility where many of the horrific "experiments" were conducted by German scientists and doctors against the prisoners of the camp.

Although there was a crematorium on the Dachau compound there does not seem to be enough evidentiary proof that they used it to murder prisoners. There is, however, documentation to indicate that those who were too sick or old were sent to another center in Linz, Austria. Instead, the SS chose to use Dachau's firing range and gallows to take the lives of prisoners.

As Allied forces advanced toward Germany, central concentration camps, like Dachau, were inundated with prisoners from the more out-lying camps. The belief by the Nazis was that there would be too many prisoners in these camps for the Allies to liberate. Prisoners were transported in tightly packed trains. It sometimes took days for the prisoners to arrive at their new destination, exhausted, starving, and dying in many cases. Outbreaks of diseases started happening because of the overcrowded transport and then overcrowded concentration camps. From 1944 when the Nazi's began this concentration of prisoners until liberation in 1945, 15,000 people died from the sub-human conditions.

The dedication of the Allied troops and their determination to resolve to end the tyranny of the dictator Adolph Hitler and his band of SS and Gestapo helped to free the prisoners from Dachau on April 29, 1945. We should never forget.

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James R. Coffey
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John Smither
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Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
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