Today the former camp road leads from the roll call square to the religious remembrance sites and the crematorium area. The barracks were situated to the right and left of the camp road; their numbers are marked on today’s foundations. The first two barracks were given a variety of special functions: the medical facilities for the prisoners (on the right), the camp library, the prisoner canteen, later also an orderly room, and a production workshop for the armaments industry (left).
The number of barracks designated for medical purposes (known as the “Revier” or “sickbay”) continued to grow over the years, eventually covering the first nine barracks on the right-hand side. Medical care in the camp was nonetheless fully inadequate. Moreover, these barracks were used by SS doctors to conduct brutal experiments on humans. Returning to Dachau in 1955, Nico Rost recalls these experiments:
“Even today, years and years after liberation, the visitor is gripped by a certain fear upon entering the crossroad to what was once block three. This was the barrack the prisoners feared the most – the barrack of experiments, the realm of Doctor Rascher. Atrocities were committed here which surpassed all the other cruelties carried out in German concentration camps, SS doctors committed them on defenseless prisoners, abused them for their so-called medical experiments: here prisoners were placed in icy water until they froze, often for hours on end so as to identify the average time that elapsed when it no longer made any sense to search for men who had parachuted into the English Channel after being shot down. Bone transplants, phlegmon and hyperthermia experiments were carried out in these barracks, ending in agonizing death after horrific suffering.”
Prisoner allocation to the barracks was based on Nazi racial ideology: German prisoners and those from Western occupied countries were housed in the front barracks. Towards the rear prisoners were allocated who the Nazis viewed as inferior: Poles, prisoners from the Soviet Union, and Jews. At the same time there were also special areas, for example an area fenced in within the complex for punishment barracks, the quarantine blocks for new arrivals to the camp, the so-called invalid blocks, and the clergy barracks, occupied mainly by Polish priests.
Located behind the prisoner barracks were the disinfection barracks, where clothing was disinfected, hutches for rabbit breeding, and the camp nursery. Today these are the sites of the religious memorials. The tour proceeds first to the crematorium area, located behind the bridge on the left-hand side.
Group of prisoners in front of the infirmary, secretly made picture, Rudolf Cisar, spring 1943.
Picture of the former camps road, 2007
Concrete-fundament marking the position of the former barrack 1.