Dachau became one of the largest Concentration camps in Germany, a mere metropolis of death. It served as a prototype and model for other Nazi concentration camps. Established by the Nazis in March 1933, the Dachau concentration camp was “the first concentration camp for political prisoners” as Heinrich Himmler stated. It is located on the grounds of a former munitions factory near Dachau, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of Munich. Almost every community in Germany had members taken away to these camps. Newspapers continually reported the removal to concentration camps of the enemies of “the Reich” – what means opponents to the Nazi dictatorship.
There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and probasbly many more that are undocumented. On April 26, 1945, as American forces approached, there were around 40.000 prisoners in the main Dachau camp around 25.000 others in subcamps in upper Bavaria. Two thirds of these were categorized as political prisoners, while more than 20.000 were Jews, with the remainder falling into various other categories. Typhus epidemics became a serious problem due to overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, insufficient provisions, and the weakened state of the prisoners.
On April 14, 1945, Himmler ordered the evacuation of the camp and the extermination of all inmates at Dachau, writing, “No prisoners shall be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy alive.” Starting that day, the Germans forced more than 7,000 prisoners on a death march from Dachau southward. During the death march, the SS attendants shot anyone who could no longer continue; many prisoners also died of hunger, cold, or exhaustion where as the survivors were liberated by American troops close to the alps south of Munich.
Prisoners from the Concentration camp Buchenwald were sent to KZ Dachau in April 1945 in a freight train. Hundreds of prisoners died and when American troops approached Dachau they found more than 30 railroad cars filled with bodies brought to Dachau, all in an advanced state of decomposition.
On April 29 1945 American troops of the 45th Thunderbird Division liberated the Dachau camp together with units of the 42nd Infantry and the 20th Armored division. On the films shot by US Signal Corps Cameraman Gerson you see the train with the death bodies of prisoners. You see as well fighting soldiers that approach the camp and German SS guards of the camp who tried to flee dressed up as prisoners.
The number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 188,000. The number of prisoners who died in the camp and the subcamps between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000, to which must be added those who perished there between 1933 and the end of 1939, as well as an uncounted number of unregistered prisoners.
We collected the footage of the liberation of the camp in various archives and made new HD scans available through Framepool. The new documentation centre of the Nazi-regimes’ crimes in Munich has been provided with several reels that are shown in their exhibition. There are s well several colour film reels that show the horror of the Dachau camp. The film frames can as well be licensed as still images. The new HD scans provide you with better quality than most of old photo scans can show.
Footage is available for licensing (Television channels / Museums) at Framepool:
Dr. Stephan Bleek