The opening of Dachau (1933)

On March 20th 1933, the office of Schutzstaffel (SS) chief Heinrich Himmler issued the following press release about the opening of a concentration camp at Dachau, near Munich:

“The first concentration camp will be opened on Wednesday, near Dachau. It has a capacity of 5,000 people. All of the Communist functionaries, Reichsbanner and Marxist functionaries who threaten the security of the state will be assembled here.

Leaving individual Communist functionaries in the courthouse jails is not possible for the long term without putting too much strain on the apparatus of the state. On the other hand, it is not appropriate, either, to let them go free again. Isolated attempts we have made in this regard resulted in continued efforts by the functionaries to agitate and organise. We have taken these steps regardless of minor misgivings, in the conviction that our actions serve to reassure the national population and are in their interest…

On Wednesday, the concentration camp at the former gunpowder factory will receive its first allocation of 200 inmates. The Dachau camp consists of over 20 one- to two-story stone buildings, each of which can hold 200 to 250 men. At first, the occupancy of the camp will gradually increase to 2,500 men and will possibly be expanded to 5,000 men later. A labour service detachment recently prepared the barrack for the first 200 men and secured it for the time being with a barrier of triple barbed-wire. The first job of the camp inmates will be to restore the other stone buildings, which are very run-down.

Once that is accomplished, they will be led out in small groups of about 50 men into the countryside, where extensive land cultivation projects wait to be implemented. Perhaps later, some of the camp inmates will be offered the possibility of settling here. The guard unit will initially consist of a contingent of one hundred state police (Landespolizei), which is to be further reinforced by SA auxiliary police guards. Meals will be taken in the large dining hall of the former ammunition factory, which can hold up to 1,500 people. But cooking will be done in field kitchens. No visits are allowed at the concentration camp in Dachau.”