Dachau Essay

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The Holocaust is portrayed in various ways to help others comprehend and appreciate the extreme atrocities that occurred. One such Holocaust portrayal is the Dachau concentration camp. The history of Dachau contains a beginning, middle, and end, much like stories today. The beginning: the establishment, the middle: the atrocities committed there, and the end: the liberation and freedom. However, the history of Dachau is much more than a story. It's a lesson for all humanity. Dachau was the first concentration camp to be instituted and was established on March 20, 1933. It is located in the southern German town of Dachau and is about ten miles northwest of Munich (Goss 2014). Two days after the opening of the camp, the first prisoners arrived; the majority of whom were political opponents of the Third Reich, Nazi Germany. Dachau’s first commandant was SS official Hilmar Waekerle. He was later replaced in June when he was convicted of murdering a prisoner. On May 25, 1933, Hitler exempted him and all other criminal activities that took place in concentration camps; he said it was out of the jurisdiction of the law (Timeline of Dachau 2014). Even though Hilmar’s conviction was overturned, a new leader was designated, Theodor Eicke. He would be the one to convert this camp into the model of what other concentration camps should resemble. Before the camp was liberated, nine other commandants would also take on this role (Goss 2014).At the end of the first year of the camp, there was an estimated 4,800 prisoners present in the camp. On August 15, 1938, the Dachau camp expansion was completed as a result of the grueling work of the prisoners (Timeline of Dachau 2014). Not long after, on a night called Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glas... ... middle of paper ... ...re were 67,655 registered inmates. The majority of who were political opponents (43,350) and Jews (22,100). On that same day, the SS forced 7,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of Jews, to walk from Dachau to Tegernsee, Germany. On this death march, the SS shot anyone who couldn’t keep up and yet still many others died resulting from the cold, hunger, and exhaustion of the six-day-trip. During this time on April 29, 1945, Dachau was liberated by the 7th Army of the United States armed forces (Dachau The First Concentration Camp 2014). When the soldiers arrived, they found more than 30 boxcars filled with decomposing corpses. Three days later on May 2, 1945, the remaining prisoners who survived the death march were liberated by American forces. Roughly more than 188,000 people had been imprisoned at Dachau and nearly 50,000 of them met their end their also (Goss 2014).
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