Dachau and the Nazi Terror - Testimonies and Memoires

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In spring 1933, immediately after Hitler’s assumption of power, the firstconcentration camp was established at Dachau. Here the political opponentsof the new regime were imprisoned and abused, here the terror systemof the concentration camps was tried out and developed: Dachau was atesting ground for the SS and became the model for all the other concentrationcamps throughout the area controlled by Germany. And when fromautumn 1944 the territory commanded by the NS state began to dwindle, itwas to Dachau that the inmates of the other camps were evacuated — fromNatzweiler, from Buchenwald, from Auschwitz and from almost all theother sites of terror, convoys of prisoners came to Dachau. This was wherethe trail finally ended: the first concentration camp survived longer than almostall the others and was one of the last to be liberated by the Allies. Andthroughout the world the concentration camp at Dachau was seen as theepitome of the concentration camp system in the state created by Hitler.Every year almost a million people from all over the world come to thememorial site at Dachau. There is clearly an interest in what happened hereand in other camps, in the causes and background. And above all there is adesire for explanation, for elucidation, especially among younger visitors toDachau and to other sites of persecution and extermination. Early on, manypeople expressed the need to see in the Federal Republic a forum for informationand documentation comparable to the Hefte of Auschwitz — whichwould be available to all those able to make a serious, objective and importantcontribution to clarifying the historical background and thus also topreventing any repetition of National Socialist injustice.Thus in 1985 the first volume of the yearly Dachauer Hefte appeared.The contents, which are organized thematically, are not restricted to thecamp at Dachau and its immediate environment. The subtitle, “Studies anddocuments in the history of National Socialist concentration camps” indicatesthe character and range of the Hefte. It is intended to provide space forthe publication of academic studies and for documents — reports, diariesand her authentic records describing the experience and fate of those persecutedunder National Socialism.The Dachauer Hefte are published under the moral authority ofthe Comite International de Dachau. The Hefte are intended both as anacademic publication and as the mouthpiece of those who were persecutedand of those who offered resistance to the NS regime. The editors, whohave no conflicting interests, whether in their function as editors or as the8 Prefaceinitiators of the Dachauer Hefte, vouch both for academic standards and forthe authenticity of records published.Many people have expressed regret that the Dachauer Hefte have sofar appeared only in German. This volume contains in unabridged form inEnglish a selection of important contributions of survivors of Nazi concentrationcamps, published in 17 issues of the Dachauer Hefte 1985–2000.Wolfgang Benz, Barbara Distel



Preface 7

Max MannheimerTheresienstadt — Auschwitz — Warsaw — Dachau Recollections  9

Eli A. BohnenThe Shoe on the Other FootA US Military Rabbi Remembers the Liberationof Dachau Concentration Camp 50

David Max EichhornSabbath Service in Dachau Concentration CampReport on the First Week in May 1945 by a US Military Rabbi 53

Hermann LangbeinWork in the Concentration Camp System 64

Ladislaus Ervin-DeutschAbout Those who Survived and Those who DiedFrom Auschwitz to Labour Camp III in Kaufering 75

Anise Postel-VinayA Young Frenchwoman’s Wartime Experiences 119

Barbara DistelIn the Shadow of HeroesStruggle and Survival of Centa Beimler-Herker and Lina Haag 143

Richard GlazarTreblinka — The Trap with the Green Fence 179

Solly GanorThe Death March 204

Ernst Grube“The Star, don’t wear it!”Childhood memories of the persecution of the Jews in Munich 216

Yevgeni SalzmannThis Bitter FortuneA Latvian Jew in the Ghetto and in the GULAG 227

Contributors 267