dachau concentration camp Essay

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Sabrina Butcher

Mackenna st English II – 1 Period

27 May 2014
Dachau Concentration Camp Established on March 22 by Heinrich Himmler, Dachau was first of the Nazi concentration camps to open in Germany, and was in operation the longest from 1933 to 1945; all twelve years of the Nazi regime. Dachau is located on the grounds of an abandoned World War I munitions factory. The first buildings served as the main camp until 1937, when prisoners were forced to expand the camp and demolish the original buildings. The new camp, completed in mid 1938, included 32 barracks and was designed to hold 6,000 prisoners; however, the camp population was usually over that number electrified fences were installed and seven watchtowers were placed around the camp
(20th Century History 19)
. At the entrance of Dachau was an iron gate with the infamous phrase, "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Will Make You Free”). The first commandant of Dachau, Hilmar Wäckerle, was replaced in June 1933 after being charged with murder of a prisoner. Although Wäckerle’s conviction was overruled by Hitler, who stated that Dachau and all other concentration camps were not to be subjected to German law, Heinrich Himmler wanted to bring in new leadership for the camp. Dachau’s second commandant, Theodor Eicke, established a set of regulations for daily operations in Dachau that would soon become the model for all Nazi concentration camps. A variety of SS officers trained under Eicke, most notably future commandant of the Auschwitz camp system, Rudolph Höss
(The History Place 16 ­ 17)
.

Dachau was originally designed for holding German and Austrian political prisoners and
Jews, but in 1935 it began to be used also for ordinary criminals. In the camp, political prisoners wore a red tag, and criminals wore a green tag. Other prisoners also included members of groups
Hitler considered unfit for Germany, including intellectuals, gypsies, homosexuals, the

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physically and mentally handicapped and artists
(Jennifer L. Goss 3 )
. Although Dachau was not an extermination camp, tens of thousands of people died from malnutrition, illness, overwork, and torture. Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands that are undocumented . Prisoners in the camp were held to a daily routine and any rebellion resulted in harsh beatings, discussion of political views was strictly prohibited and violation of this policy resulted in execution, and those who attempted to escape were put to death. From the start, prisoners were subjected to harsh treatment. After World War II broke out, prisoners were used as slave labor to manufacture weapons and other materials for Germany’s war effort. Others were subjects of brutal medical experiments and suffered horribly. These experiments were usually painful and unneeded. The medical experiments conducted at Dachau were aimed at improving military survival rates and medical technology for German civilians.
For example, Nazi Dr. Sigmund Rascher subjected some prisoners to high altitude experiments using pressure chambers, while he forced others to…