GERMANY. Dachau. April 1945. Shortly after Dachau’s liberation, American soldiers view the bodies inside one of the open railcars.
Photograph: Eric Schwaab/Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Dachau concentration camp was the first camp established by the Nazis. It opened on March 22, 1933. It was announced publicly and widely reported in the German media. At first the camp was used to detain enemies of the Nazi regime, political prisoners. Later many tens of thousands of other would pass through the camp and its numerous sub-camps.
Inmates comprised notably of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, French, Yugoslavs, Czechs, Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, Gypsies.
Number of inmates: over 188,000 (estimated)
Killed: 32,000 documented deaths, thousands undocumented
Dachau was not an extermination camp with gas chambers, although the death rate from conventional executions, starvation and ill treatment was high and the camp was equipped with ‘ovens’ for the disposal of the dead. Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, floggings, the so-called tree or pole hanging, and standing at attention for extremely long periods. It was also the site of numerous medical experiments on detainees, many of whom died in the course of experiments.