The admission procedure to the Dachau concentration camp was completed in the shunt room; this procedure was brutal and meant for the prisoners the loss of personal rights, liberty and human autonomy.
Generally the procedure for interning the prisoners in the camp began in the rooms of the political department, whose buildings were still located in the SS compound to the southwest in front of the Jourhaus. The former Luxembourgian prisoner Albert Theis describes arrival in the camp:
The prisoners got off in front of the Jourhaus and entered the barracks of the political department. There their personal details were recorded. The protective custody order had meanwhile arrived, stating why one had been arrested and so on. Your profile was photographed through the famous system: a needle was inserted in the chair, the SS man did not want to always have to say: “Next!” He simply pressed a button. The needle pricked up into your ass. The prisoner jumped up – no need to explain any further – then it was the turn of the next prisoner. Then one entered the camp through the Jourhaus. (…) After that off to the Schubraum. There we were stripped of all our clothes. Everything had to be handed over: money, rings, watches. One was now stark naked.
The current exhibition shows the former shunt room in its original spatial division. Tables were set up along the axis of the pillars, dividing the room into two parts. On the window side stood the newly arrived prisoners; there they had to undress completely. Behind the tables stood the SS men and the prisoners assigned to work there; they completed registration for all of the newly arrived prisoners, and collected their clothes and personal possessions.
As you view the contents in the tables that divide the rooms, you will notice that the first four tables display objects from the perspective of the prisoners, as they surrendered their personal effects, and in essence, their individuality. The last four tables show artifacts from the perspective of the SS officers, as they issued the prisoners numbers, stripping them of their individuality.
Identification picture of Albert Theis, made in the political department of the concentration camp Dachau.
Picture of the shunt room, 2008.
Exhibition panel with photographs of former prisoners, whose desitinies are presentated in the exhibition.