The story of Dachau, as told to tourists
The former Dachau concentration camp now has Memorials to the Catholics, Protestants and Jews who suffered and died there. The photo above shows the Jewish Memorial.
In the background of the photo above is a Carmelite convent that was built before the Jewish Memorial was added. Many visitors are critical of the fact that the Catholic and Protestant memorials have the best locations, in the mistaken belief that Dachau was mainly a camp for Jews.
The Jewish Memorial, designed by Frankfurt architect Hermann Zwi Guttmann, is located approximately 40 yards east of the Catholic Memorial, which is shown in the photo below.
Note that the Catholic Church, shown in the photo above, does not have a cross on top of it, but instead has a crown of thorns much like the one worn by Jesus on the cross.
A large church bell, which was donated by the former Austrian prisoners in the camp, stands near the church. The bell tower, which is shown on the left in the photo below, has a cross on top. Many visitors mistakenly assume that this bell was used to call the prisoners for roll call. The tour guides tell visitors that the bell now rings at 2:50 p.m. each day to commemorate the exact time that the Dachau camp was surrendered to the 42nd Rainbow Division of the U.S. Seventh Army.
At the end of the gravel beds which denote the location of the former barracks, and directly across from the building where the gas chamber is located, is a Protestant Church where services are currently held on Sundays. The steps were designed to have no right angles because this would be a reminder of the hated Nazi ideal of order and the precisely measured right-angled barracks. The most famous Protestant at Dachau was the Reverend Martin Niemöller who was convicted of treason by the Nazis.
The most recent memorial to be built at Dachau is the Russian Orthodox Church which was dedicated on April 29, 1995 in honor of the Soviet Prisoners of War who were imprisoned at Dachau. There were 3,900 Russian prisoners at Dachau when the camp was liberated, the second largest ethnic group in the camp.
This page was last updated on October 24, 2009