Traces of the Past. The Allach Subcamp Complex

 |  08.05.2020

The Allach subcamp complex was set up in 1942. Thousands of prisoners had to perform force labor there until the end of the war. The Karlsfeld OT camp (Organisation Todt), a site of immense suffering for Jewish prisoners in particular, was built in 1944.

In 2016 and 2017 the Bavarian Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments carried out archeological excavations on the grounds of the former OT camp. This work has brought to light over 1 000 objects from both the period of the camp’s existence and its various postwar re-uses. Thanks to an initiative launched by the Comité International de Dachau, the finds have passed into the possession of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.

Objects bear witness to the everyday life of the prisoners

Just on 100 of these finds are now on show in the exhibition “Traces of the Past” and presented to the public for the first time. The objects bear witness to the everyday life of the prisoners, the violence they were forced to experience, and their liberation 75 years ago. These finds are complemented by the broader historical narrative, presented on the surrounding walls in the form of photographs, maps, original film material, and contemporary witness accounts.

The exhibition is divided into ten thematic areas. They cover the history and archeology of the Allach subcamp complex, provide a depiction of everyday prisoner life and liberation, and shed light on the various uses of the grounds after 1945:

  • The Allach Subcamp Complex
  • Buildings and Guard Personnel
  • Forced Labor
  • Accommodation and Air Raid Protection
  • Food and Clothing
  • “Personal Belongings” and De-Individualization
  • Liberation
  • Re-Uses of the Grounds
  • Excavations
  • Death – Remembrance

An interdisciplinary team under the guidance of Dr Gabriele Hammermann, director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, researched and planned the exhibition. impuls-design from Erlangen provided the design. The special exhibition was made possible by the generous support of the BMW Group, the Munich City Authority, the Comité International de Dachau, the Free State of Bavaria, and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Virtual opening and curator tours

A virtual opening of the special exhibition “Traces of the Past. The Allach Subcamp Complex” was held on May 8 2020. On our website you can find the welcoming addresses of the exhibition organizers. Nick Hope, a survivor of the Allach subcamp, and Dan Dougherty, a liberator of the subcamp, tell of their experiences in video messages. The curators offer insights into the exhibition in three different video tours.

Impressions of the exhibition