Dachau Concentration Camp

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Dachau was the first concentration camp established by the Nazis, in March 1933 under the authority of Heinrich Himmler, then Police President of Bavaria. It was converted from an abandoned munitions factory, about 10 miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany.

At first, it principally held political prisoners. After a major construction program in 1938, it also held Jews not accused of political crimes, especially those arrested during Kristallnacht.

The facility was a training cener for camp personnel, under the command of Theodor Eicke. Eicke, its first Commandant, organized the first units of Totenkopf SS from its guard force, and was promoted to Inspector of Concentration Camps.

While it had a crematorium and gas chamber, there is no strong evidence that the gas chamber was ever used to murder humans, but rather for disinfecting clothing and other materials. Prisoners certainly were killed on the firing range and the gallows, and several thousand were sent to the Nazi euthanasia program center at Castle Hartheim. Many Nazi medical experiments were conducted there, and may have caused the deaths, and certainly the disability, of hundreds of prisoners.