||Graphically illustrated memorial volume issued upon the dedication of the memorial for the Dachau (town near Munich, Bavaria) concentration camp. The camp was established on March 10, 1933. The first of the S.S.-organized camps, it became the model and training ground for all other camps when they were taken over by the S.S. The Dachau camp existed until it was captured by the Americans on April 29, 1945. During World War II, approximately 150 branches of the main camp established in southern Germany and Austria were also called "Dachau." The main camp consisted of 32 huts in two rows, surrounded by an electrified fence, in which there was a gate surmounted by the slogan Arbeit macht frei ("Labor Liberates"). The camp's first commandant was Theodor Eicke, who planned and organized the brutal Dachau regime. It was at Dachau that permission was first given to the guards to shoot a prisoner approaching the barbed-wire fence, and this practice was encouraged by granting leave to guards who hit their target. Dachau produced commandants for other camps, including Rudolph Hoess.
From the first, Dachau had a large population of Jewish inmates. Criminal and political prisoners received preferential treatment. The Jews had to wear a yellow badge. After the Anschluss (annexation) in 1938, thousands of Austrian Jews were sent to Dachau. Eleven thousand were sent there from Germany and Austria in the wake of Kristallnacht but nearly all of them were released. No Jews were released, however, after the outbreak of World War II. The exact number of those who passed through Dachau is unknown. In the main camp 160,000 prisoners were registered on the files and about 90,000 in the camp's branches; but, during the last several days of the camp's existence, many transports of prisoners arrived which were not registered in the file. Some inmates remained in Dachau or one of its branches; others were sent further in "death transports"; most were murdered or died from starvation.
It was at Dachau that German doctors and scientists first experimented on prisoners. Many died as a result of these pseudo-scientific experiments, and those who survived were often maimed for life. Dachau claimed many victims of want and starvation. From time to time there was also a "selection" in which the weak and crippled were sent to the gas chambers in other camps. Gas chambers were built in Dachau but were never used. The exact number of people killed in Dachau is not known; at the least there were more than 40,000, of whom probably 80–90% were Jewish.
When Dachau was occupied by the American army, one of the uses made of the camp was for the concentration of German prisoners of war and war criminals, who were to be tried in the town of Dachau. Of these, 260 were sentenced to death, and 498 to imprisonment. The camp was later a transit camp for refugees and foreign citizens freed from concentration camps. Part of the camp is preserved as a memorial.