Questions our visitors frequently ask – Newsletter 2 – 2011
Questions our visitors frequently ask
true that the number of Jewish prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp rose
dramatically as a result of the November pogrom in 1938?
A quarter of all the
200,000 prisoners detained in the Dachau concentration camp and its subcamps
were of Jewish background. Individual Jews were amongst the first prisoners
taken to the camp in 1933. In 1937 their number rose for the first time to ca.
200-250 because Jewish prisoners from other camps were collected in Dachau. In
summer 1938 – after the annexation of Austria – the SS deported a further 1,434
Jews to the Dachau concentration camp.
During the November Pogrom of 1938 the Gestapo and
Security Police detained over 26,000 Jewish men and had them taken to the
Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Dachau concentration camps, a means of forcing
them into relinquishing their remaining assets and into emigration. A total of
10,911 Jews were sent to the Dachau concentration camp at this time. The SS
isolated them from the other prisoners and for days forced them to stand at
attention for excruciating periods or perform exercise drills; within two
months 151 Jews died. Most of those who survived were gradually released, while
a few hundred were still imprisoned in concentration camps in mid-1939. And not
all those released managed to flee the German Reich: they were arrested again
and eventually deported to the National Socialist extermination camps.
As the prisoners became an even more important source
of labor for the armaments projects of the Nazi state, in the summer of 1944
the SS transported, via Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Warsaw concentration camp,
almost 35,000 Jews “fit for work” – mostly from Hungary, Czechoslovakia,
Lithuania, and Poland – to Dachau and from there onto the subcamps. The living
and working conditions of their detainment were catastrophic, particularly in
the subcamp complexes of Mühldorf and Kaufering; the death rate was greater
than one in three, while other prisoners were sent to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen,
and Flossenbürg, and thus certain death, or they died on the death marches
after the evacuation of the camps.