DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMPS

'The first prisoners were political opponents of the regime'


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On 21 March 1933, the Munich Chief of Police, Heinrich Himmler, ordered that a concentration camp be erected at Dachau. According to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Website:

"In June 1933, Theodor Eicke was appointed commandant of the concentration camp. He developed an organisational plan and rules with detailed stipulations, which were later to become valid for all concentration camps. Also from Eicke came the division of the concentration camp into two areas, namely the prisoners' camp surrounded by a variety of security facilities and guard towers and the so-called camp command area with administrative buildings and barracks for the SS.

"Later appointed to the position of Inspector for all Concentration Camps, Eicke established the Dachau concentration camp as the model for all other camps and as the murder school for the SS."

The website continues: "The first prisoners were political opponents of the regime, communists, social democrats, trade unionists, also occasionally members of conservative and liberal political parties. The first Jewish prisoners were also sent to the Dachau concentration camp because of their political opposition."

We reproduce below an archive article from the forerunner newspaper to The Guardian, with the above headline, dated Tuesday, 21 March 1933.

The President of the Munich police has informed the press that the first concentration camp holding 5,000 political prisoners is to be organised within the next few days near the town of Dachau in Bavaria.

Here, he said, Communists, "Marxists", and Reichsbanner leaders who endangered the security of the State would be kept in custody. It was impossible to find room for them all in the State prisons, nor was it possible to release them. Experience had shown, he said, that the moment they were released they always started their agitation again. If the safety and order of the State were to be guaranteed such measures were inevitable, and they would be carried out without any petty considerations. [Himmler’s statement went on to say: "...continual inquiries as to the date of release of individual protective custody prisoners will only hinder the police in their work." – WDIE1]

This is the first clear statement hitherto made regarding concentration camps. The extent of the terror may be measured from the size of this Bavarian camp – which, one may gather, will be only one of many.

The Munich police president's statement leaves no more doubt whatever that the Socialists and Republicans will be given exactly the same sort of "civic education" as the Communists. It is widely held that the drive against the Socialists will reach its height after the adjournment of the Reichstag next week.

1 Source: "Concentration Camp Dachau, 1933-1945", Editors: Barbara Distel, Ruth Jakusch, Publisher: International Committee of Dachau, 1978


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