Jewish Monument at graves of Dachau camp victims

Waldfriedhof is the new and current town cemetery of Dachau. It is located north of Old Town Dachau and is not within walking distance of any of the other places on this tour of historic Dachau. The Waldfriedhof is huge, compared to the Altfriedhof, the old town cemetery. Preparations for this new burial site began during World War II, and some of the work was done by work units from the Dachau concentration camp.

In May 1945, the first month after the Dachau camp was liberated by the American Seventh Army, there were 2,226 deaths and 196 deaths in June, the second month, before the typhus epidemic in the camp could be brought under control. The people of the town of Dachau buried 1,268 of the victims at Waldfriedhof, which is 6.5 kilometers from the concentration camp. Others were buried at the Leitenberg cemetery, and 800 bodies were burned in the crematorium at the concentration camp.

In 1964, on May 1st, the Communist labor day, a memorial stone designed by Dieter Aldinger was dedicated at the site of the prisoners' graves. It is shown in the photograph above. The graves of the camp victims are arranged in terraced rows on a gently sloping hillside near the entrance to the cemetery. A few miniature roses have been planted along some of the rows, but for the most part, these graves looked untended when I visited the cemetery in May 2001. The rest of this vast cemetery is very well maintained with not a weed in sight. There were no other visitors in this part of the cemetery while I was there, and no fresh flowers or wreaths had been left at any of the graves.

As shown in the photograph above, the Jewish monument stands at the bottom of the slope, in the center of all the graves, although I observed that at least 90 percent of the flat grave markers here have Christian crosses on them. The Jews, who died on the death march from the Flossenbürg camp to the Dachau camp in the last days before the liberation, are also buried here. Jews and Christians are buried side by side, as the photograph below shows. Notice that behind the Jewish monument, there is farm land in the distance.

Rows of grave stones in cemetery

Jewish & Christian victims buried side by side

As you stand at the spot shown in the photograph above, you will see under a tree on the left, directly across from the Jewish monument, a Christian monument that is obscured by the shadows under the tree. This Christian monument is shown in the photograph below. It was erected by the Union of the Politically Persecuted in the Austrian People's Party in 1950 to honor the Austrian anti-Nazis who were sent to Dachau because they resisted the unification of Austria and Germany in 1938. Included among the Austrian prisoners at Dachau was the former Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg. The number of Austrian prisoners in the camp is not documented because they were counted as Germans. The Austrians also donated the bell tower, topped by a Christian cross, which stands beside the Catholic Church of the Mortal Agony of Christ in the Dachau Memorial Site.

Monument in honor of Austrian victims of Dachau

Beautifully decorated graves in Waldfriedhof

Typical grave markers in Waldfriedhof

Leitenberg Cemetery

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