Presentation of the historic camp gate in the permanent exhibit

Representatives of the political community and the Memorial Site received the gate in Dachau when it was returned in February 2017. The Board of Trustees of the Stiftung Bayerische Gedenkstätten (Bavarian Memorial Foundation) decided not to continue using it at its former location. Following the restoration work and a color analysis, the highly symbolic original can now be seen at the end of the main exhibition. The replica that has replaced it at the entrance to the Jourhaus since April 2015 will remain.

Tor im Jourhaus The SS ordered the inmates to forge the camp gate in 1936. Its inscription, “Arbeit macht frei” (“work sets you free”) made it a cynical symbol of the suffering the concentration camp inmates were forced to endure. Its theft on the night of November 2, 2014 was an assault on the remembrance of this past.

Unfortunately, the gate was in very poor condition when it was rediscovered under a tarpaulin on the side of a path. It is severely corroded and has in places become porous. In order to stop the advance of this degradation, the gate was preserved in its current condition. In addition, a comprehensive color analysis was performed to learn more about the coloring of the camp gate at various times. Subsequently, the Memorial Site developed a concept for presenting the camp gate as part of the permanent exhibition.

Tor in VitrineWhen this laborious work was finished, the camp gate in its glass case was able to be unveiled at the press conference on July 27, 2017, where State Minister Ludwig Spaenle again emphasized the particular importance of the gate as a key indictment of the former Dachau concentration camp. Abba Naor, survivor of the Dachau subcamp at Kaufering and Vice President of the Comité International de Dachau (CID), Karl Freller, Member of State Parliament and Director of the Bavarian Memorial Foundation, and Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, Director of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, provided information on the interesting results of the examination by the Bavarian Landesamt für Denkmalpflege (State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments). The circumstances of the theft are still obscure.

Photos: © KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau; Photo teaser: © BLfD, Jens Wagner