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April 29: Dachau Liberated

April 29, 2014
KZDachau1945The Seventh U.S. Army entered the Dachau concentration camp on this date in 1945. Ten miles outside of Munich, Dachau was the first concentration camp organized by the Nazi S.S., in 1933, and would be variously used over the course of twelve years, but primarily to confine and punish political prisoners and non-Aryans as defined by the Nuremberg Racial Laws. It is estimated that 200,000 people from more than thirty countries were imprisoned in the camp; some 32,000 deaths were recorded by Nazi record-keepers, and thousands more took place. With its “Arbeit Macht Frei” gates, its crematoria, its forced labor, and its system of categorizing prisoners with various patches sewn to their uniforms, Dachau was the prototype camp of the Nazi concentration camp system. After 1945, the camp was used by the Allies as a prison for SS officers awaiting trial; after 1948, as a resettlement camp for Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia. Until 1960, Dachau also served as a military base for the United States. To see footage of the camp’s liberation, look below. “Lieber Gott, mach mich dumm, damit ich nicht nach Dachau kumm — Dear God, make me dumb, that I may not to Dachau come.” -German jingle