Concentration Camp Memorial in Dachau
Dachau is a town about 45 minutes from Munich which is now infamous for having been the location of the first Nazi concentration camp. The camp was established under the supervision of Heinrich Himmler on March 22, 1933 and served as the model after which many other such prisons were subsequently built. Those incarcerated in Dachau were primarily political prisioners, which constituted anyone who resisted the absolute suppression of freedom that the NS (National Socialist) regime was imposing on the population after Hitler’s election as Chancellor in January, 1933. The KZ (“Konzentrationslager,” or concentration camp) in Dachau was a slave labor camp and not a “death camp” like Auschwitz or Treblinka, in Poland, where literally millions of Jews were systematically put to death beginning in 1942.
After the Reichskristallnacht on 9 to 11 November, 1938, approximately 10,000 Jews from all over Bavaria were gathered up and brought toDachau, most of whom were subsequently released after several weeks or months. At that point, those that could fled the country. On the morning of April 29th, 1945 the prisonors of Dachau were iberated by the U.S. army. It its 12-year history more than 200,000 people from approximately 30 different nations were imprisoned there, of which over 40,000 were died or were murdered. Barracks built for 200 prisoners had up to 600 living in them under inhuman conditions.
Most deaths occurred from starvation, exhaustion and disease. Dachau also had its own gas chamber which was capable of murdering 150 people every 20 minutes. The SS didn’t use it for its intended purpose for the simple reason that they no longer had the fuel to burn the extra bodies. Although they did use it for experiments during which approximately 50 people were murdered in the gas chamber.
Significant parts of the main camp were restored and the entire grounds now serve as a memorial to all the victims of the atrocities committed under NS rule.
A formal guided tour of the memorial is not necessary, however we recommended that you invest in one as it will greatly enhance your experience and the educational value of your visit. We recommend one in particular below
What you will see there
The main building is now a museum which features numerous photos with captions in English. A 22-minute film in English is shown at 11:30 & 3:30, and sometimes also at 2:00. Ask about times at the desk when you arrive. On the grounds there are numerous memorials built by different churches and organizations, a reconstructed barracks, the crematorium (where bodies were burned), gas chambers (which were supposedly never put to use), the wall surrounding the camp with its ditches, barbed wire and reconstructed watch towers, the gatehaus and several other buildings.
Going on your own with Munich mass transit
Take the S2 to Dachau and from the S-bahn stop in Dachau you must take either bus 724 or 726,* then walk about 10 minutes to the memorial entrance. All told, including waiting times, the one-way trip can take up to an hour, even though the ride from the Munich Hauptbahnhof to Dachau is only about 20 minutes. Unless you have Eurail passes which include the S-bahn, two or more persons (up to five) together should get the “Partner Tageskarte XXL”. This ticket costs (2015) 14.20 Euros, but is good for up to five adults for the round trip and any other transportation until 6:00 am the next morning. If you are going alone, you need to get the “Single Tageskarte XXL”, which will cost you 8.10 Euros, but is also good for the entire system until the morning of the following day.
NOTES: Ask the driver for a schedule before you get off or check the schedule posted at the bus stop when you arrive to plan to catch a bus back. One of the buses may not be running at all between 2:28 – 3:48.
Professionally Guided Tours
For a professionally guided of Dachau we reccommend going with "In Their Shoes - Dachau Memorial Tours". The owner James is also a current Mike's BIke Tour guide and he does an outstanding job. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can choose to simply show up at his meeting point on the second level of the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at Coffee Fellows. Tours run daily at 9:30 from the meeting point.
Price: Adults - 21 Euros, Students - 17 Euros. 2 Euro discount fot those who have been on any of the Mike's Bike Tours!