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Dachau -The Bunker

Within the Concentration Camp the Bunker was the centre of terror.
The cells housed individual prisoners that were punished by being locked up for weeks, months even years, often in the dark and with insufficient food.
Many of these prisoners were tortured and maltreated by the hand chosen SS guards.  It is still uncertain how many of the prisoners were murdered or committed suicide.
In the Courtyard of the Bunker the SS would hang prisoners on poles for days on end as a punishment and even carry our executions.
 
                                                      The entrance to the "Bunker "                                                                             Left: The "Service building"
                                                                                                                                                  The wall in the back ground is where many prisoner were hung
 
When the Dachau concentration camp first opened on March 22, 1933, a small  prison with only 5 cells was set up in the gun powder and munitions factory, where the camp was located. The inner prison, called the Lagerarrest, was then moved to a new location in 1934. The new prison had 22 cells and resembled a bunker, which is where the nick name came from. In 1938 when the Dachau camp was rebuilt by the prisoners, an even newer prison with 137 cells was added behind the service building.
 
The bunker was in service right up until 1945 to incarcerate high-level "enemies of the state," These were to include Politicians, Resistance Fighters, Writers, Former German Soldiers and even Royalty. There was even a special "priest block." Of the 2720 priests among them 2579 Catholic held in Dachau, 1034 did not survive the camp. The majority were Polish 1780, of whom 868 died in Dachau.
 A list of notable prisoners of Dachau can be found on Wikipedia by clicking here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_campNotable_prisoners_of_Dachau

The hall way in the Bunker is lit by three skylights and electric lighting

A new small block was built at the east end of the Bunker in 1941,  it was  for camp guards who had broken the strict rules of the SS. This building has now been demolished.  On April 28, 1945 when the other guards left the camp, the SS men in the bunker were released and ordered to remain behind to guard the camp until it could be surrendered to the Americans. Some were killed by the GI's or beaten to death by the prisoners after the camp was liberated.  Police officers and air raid wardens who failed in their duties were also imprisoned in this section of the bunker.

There is no mention or memorial to the SS prison or prisoners, the site is a memorial to the victims and not the malevolent

Some members of the SS were especially remembered for for their cruelty and bloodthirstiness, One such guard was SS-Hauptscharführer warrent officer Josef Seuss.

                                                            SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Seuss                          One of the many "parties" like Seuss would of arranged.

Josef Seuss was charged with wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the subjection of civilian nationals of nations then at war with the then German Reich to cruelties and mistreatment, including killings, beatings, tortures, starvation, abuses and indignities, the exact names and numbers of such civilian nationals being unknown but aggregating many thousands who were then and there in the custody of the German Reich in exercise of belligerent control

He received the death sentence and was executed on the 28th May 1946

Another regular visitor to the Bunker was an official of the Political Department Gestapo Johann Kick. Their office was above the gate house

He was renowned for his bunker interrogations in which he abused and tortured prisoners in order to extort confessions

                                                                    Johann Kick                                    Prisoners after Kick and he colleagues abuse would often look like this

Johann Kick was also charged with wilfully, deliberately and wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the subjection of civilian nationals of nations then at war with the then German Reich to cruelties and mistreatment, including killings, beatings, tortures, starvation, abuses and indignities, the exact names and numbers of such civilian nationals being unknown but aggregating many thousands who were then and there in the custody of the German Reich in exercise of belligerent control

He too received the death sentence and was executed on the 28th May 1946.

April 26th 1945 just three days before camp liberation the special prisoners of the Bunker were either set free or sent to the South Tyrol. All with the exception of Dr. Sigmund Rascher who was shot in the back of the head while still in his cell. He was executed on a direct order from Heinrich Himmler.

Dr. Rascher was the doctor who performed medical experiments on Dachau prisoners for the benefit of the Luftwaffe German Air ForceHe was imprisoned by the Nazis because he had allegedly broken the law by taking orphaned children into his home and lying that they were his own children.

Dr Rascher conducting experiments on how long an airman could survive in freezing water

Another of the Bunkers special prisoners was the inmate from cell 30, The Rev Martin Niemöller, a former decorated WW1 U-Commander who had set a record by sinking 55,000 tons of Allied ships in 115 days at sea.  When the war ended, he decided that he would become a preacher.  He was ordained on June 29, 1924.

 Although he was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler, he became one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed the nazification of German Protestant churches. Arrested on July 1, 1937, Niemöller was brought to a "special Court" on March 2, 1938 to be tried for activities against the State. He was fined 2,000 Reich marks and received a prison term of seven months. As his detention period exceeded the jail term, he was released by the Court after the trial. However, immediately after leaving the Court, he was rearrested by Himmler's Gestapo. He was interned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 until liberation in 1945.

He is best known as the author of the poem First they came....

When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

 
After his release in 1945, The Rev Niemöller became president of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau from 1947 to 1961. He was one of the initiators of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, signed by leading figures in the German church. The document acknowledged that the church had not done enough to resist the Nazis.
In 1961, he became president of the World Council of Churches.  He died at Wiesbaden in 1984.
 
This story is continued on the next page "The Crematorium"
 
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