In April 1934, when Dachau's commandant was appointed "Inspector of Concentration Camps," the Dachau system became a model for all other Nazi concentration camps.The flagship concentration camp also served as a "school of violence" for concentration camp leaders, with 18 of the top concentration camp commandants and (head of the prisoner camp) receiving their initial training there, including Adolf Eichmann, the bureaucrat who masterminded the industrially organized extermination of the Jews, and Rudolf Höss, the infamous commandant of Auschwitz.
Depending on the political situation at the time, as well as on the influence and composition of the groups and agencies vying for control of the sites, the end results varied widely.Thus the history of each former concentration camp reflects not only the political and cultural history of its host country, but also more specifically the changing values and goals held by various groups in that society.Finally, since Dachau was located on the western side of the postwar "Iron Curtain," it was accessible to tourists from all over the world, and susceptible to the lobbying efforts of local, regional and international groups.(In eastern Europe, governments held a monopoly on the forms of memorialization.) For all of these reasons, Dachau is especially suited to serve as a representative case study of broader Western and particularly West German uses and abuses of the Nazi past after 1945.Few of them know how the site was used in the 20 years before it was turned into a memorial, nor are they aware of the many choices that were made in the creation and modification of the present memorial site. What are the lessons it teaches, and who decided how to convey them?
How are the site's messages received by visitors, and what short- and long-term effects does a visit to the site have upon them?
The origins of the Dachau concentration camp reach back to World War I, when the Bavarian government decided to locate a gunpowder and munitions factory on the outskirts of this town, on a railroad connection about 15 km from downtown Munich (see map 1).
The factories, company housing, and workers' barracks were shut down under the disarmament terms of the Versailles Treaty, and they stood unused during the 1920s.
Dachau was also the camp where the Nazi regime's most prominent prisoners, including chancellors and cabinet ministers from occupied countries, as well as high-ranking religious leaders, were incarcerated.
Dachau's postwar notoriety was ensured by its liberation a week before the end of the war, before it could be destroyed or evacuated, and just after an intensive Allied media blitz to publicize the atrocities in the Nazi camps had begun.
A number of new camps were constructed from scratch, beginning with Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. army conducted a series of trials of the personnel of various concentration camps (ill. In early 1948, as the wartime alliance between the Soviet Union and the Western powers broke down, the United States quickly brought its program of "denazification" to an end in order to increase German support for the West.