A city with a name that is synonymous worldwide with the crimes of the Nazi regime,
learns how to live with that, in time. Dachau, a small city just north of Munich
does that in several ways.
The inhabitants find it unjust that they have been declared complicit. The Concentration
camp, they say, came to be without their knowledge back then.
It is interesting to find out why an empty munitions factory was chosen as the site.
The city would definitely profit from the establishment of the camp. Dachau was impoverished
because the factory had been closed due to a clause in the treaty of Versailles.
All laborers were out of work and Dachau had the highest percentage of unemployment
in Germany. The city government hoped that if the camp came to town, it would put
all the unemployed back to work.
But that did not work out, the SS did everything themselves and had no interest in
the unemployed of Dachau.
From the beginning, the involvement of the camp guards in city life was encouraged
by both the SS and city government. In June 1933, only a few months after the opening
of the camp, there was a performance of music by the Augsburger marching band. Both
SS-ers and town folk were present.
The Dachuaer Zeitung (Dachau Newspaper) reacted enthusiastically: “ This afternoon,
at three o'clock, with the Augsburger marching band in front, a large contingent
of the SS marched through the city, from the Dachau concentration camp to the Zieglerkeller,
where a concert was planned. In front, high on a horse, was camp Commander Hilmar
Wackerle, followed by the guard troops for the camp and a SS-unit from Munich. It
was a heartwarming sight: the youth of Germany marching through Dachau!”
The music corps of the camp SS enjoyed great popularity, the orchestra played regularly
on the market place. After 1936 the military home of the SS, near the camp functioned
as the location for cultural events. Civilians were offered concerts, movies and
A lot of the camp guards were members of the sport club TSV. Together with other
sportsmen they formed a soccer team that regularly played other teams in Bavaria.
There were also marriages between camp guards and women from Dachau. In the wedding
register of the St. Jacob church ten of those wedding are registered. But, because
the most of the SS was not churchgoing, there must have been many more.
The Dachau Prelate Friedrich Pfanzelt had access to the camp for a long time. He
strictly adhered to the rules of the SS. He knew, without a doubt, about the atrocities
that were taking place at the camp, but this Catholic clergyman allowed members of
the SS to take part in his processions.
The camp grew and grew. Towards the end of the war, prisoners and guards outnumbered
the population of the city five to one. The goal of improving the lagging economy
had not been achieved. The camp itself had become a city; even the water and electricity
supply was in their own hands. And the city of Dachau stood by and watched. They