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Concentration Camps 1933-1938

"Tolerance is a sign of weakness. Let any political agitators, whatever their leanings. pay heed: take care that you are not caught or you will be seized by the throat and silenced."
Theodor Eicke, SS Oberfuehrer Dachau, October 1, 1933

Dachau prisoners, ca.1935. CL:Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

From the beginning, concentration camps were an integral feature of Nazi rule. In March of 1933, the first concentration camp was established at Dachau to house opponents of the Nazi regime including communists, socialists, liberals, some clergy and anyone considered disloyal to the Reich. Dachau became the model for the entire concentration camp system. Theodor Eicke, the second commandant at Dachau, introduced a system of brutal disciplinary regulations and punishments for prisoners. Dachau was also a place where a whole generation of SS camp officials were trained, including Rudolf Hoess.

By 1939, major SS camps existed at Buchenwald, Flossenbuerg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrueck, and Sachsenhausen. While all "enemies" of the Reich were imprisoned, the percentage of Jews in the camps increased dramatically after the pogrom, known as Kristallnacht. in November 1938.

Barbed wire and fences at Mauthausen near Linz, Austria. CL:Mauthausen Memorial. Linz

"The Jewish prisoners worked in special detachments and received the hardest tasks. They were beaten at every opportunity....During the working period the non-Jewish prisoners were issued with one piece of bread at breakfast--the Jews with nothing. But the Jews were always paraded with the others to see the bread ration issued." Former Prisoner, Germany Reports. Paris 1938

Himmler inspection tour of Dachau on May 8, 1936. CL:Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

Prisoners laboring at Dachau, June 28, 1939. CL:Bundesarchiv

Prisoners standing at attention, Dachau, ca. 1936. CL:Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

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