On 22 March 1933, less than three months after Adolf Hitler was appointed German Chancellor, the first concentration camp of the Nazi regime was established in the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. Dachau was originally intended as a camp for ‘political prisoners’ such as communists, trade unionists and other political opponents of the Nazis. This was soon extended to include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) and gay men.
Dachau did not initially house many Jewish prisoners. However, after Kristallnacht an increasing number of Jews were sent there, with 10,000 men interned.
Built by prisoner labour, the camp became the model for all Nazi concentration camps. Slave labour, medical experimentation and mass killings all took place at Dachau. The camp was liberated on 29 April 1945 by American troops. Of the 67,665 registered prisoners in Dachau at this time 43,350 were political prisoners and 22,100 were Jews.
Find out more about:
- life in the camps
- Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
- Dachau Concentration Camp from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Image: © Bill Hunt