The Jourhaus served as the main exit and entrance to the prisoners’ camp and as the main office of the camp SS personnel. Passage through the building was made possible by a rod iron gate, through which the prisoners entered the camp after their initial arrival, and later marched through each day with their labor units. The gatehouse separated the prisoners from the outside world. In his memoirs, "The Powerful and the Helpless," former prisoner Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz describes his experiences in Dachau following his arrival on 11.11.1940:
"The wagon stopped. We climbed out and were led to a squat building. In
front of us, in a ditch about four meters wide, flowed water. Barbed
wire was spanned across the other side. A bridge led over the water. On
the other side of the bridge was a building, in its center a yawning
gate, on top of this gate, rising out of the roof of the building, a
square tower, where guards wearing steel helmets stood. Machinegun
barrels jutted out of the window. My neighbor whispered to me: 'The
barbed wire is electrified. You see the large open space and behind it -
all the low barracks? That's were we live.'
The barracks in the distance gleamed green through the barbed wire. Even from so far away, you could see that everything was kept painstakingly clean, not even the smallest scrap of paper lay around. But something pitiless loomed over everything, something awful, something icy that was frightening. A column marched down the road, which was lined with poplars. They were singing some song. They marched directly towards the gate, in exact step and in a dead straight line. They all looked strangely pale. Some of them sneaked an interested look at us, but nobody dared to raise his head. In the large entrance a paled iron gate was opened. The group passed over the bridge and through the gate, and then they marched singing over the large open space and vanished between the distant barracks."
The SS had affixed the motto "Work will make you free" to the camp gate. The motto reflected the Nazi propaganda meant to trivialize the concentration camp for outsiders as a "labor and re-education camp." The motto also characterized the cynical mentality of the SS, who implemented forced labor as a method of torture and as an extension of the terror of concentration life.
Two memorial plaques in remembrance of the liberation of the camp by American troops on April 29, 1945 hang on the inside walls of the entrace way to the camp.
Picture of the "Jourhouse" on the liberation day. Unknown photgrapher, 29.4.1945
Picture of the Jourhouse in 2007
View at the gate with the inscription "Arbeit macht frei" (work liberates)