Nothing makes me more angry than reading a blog post that criticizes the German civilians who lived in the town of Dachau during the time that the concentration camp was in operation. It seems that every recent visitor to the Dachau Memorial site, who writes about his or her trip, mentions that the people in the town must have known what was going on, but they chose to ignore it. How come no one ever thinks that maybe the reason that the townspeople didn’t know about the atrocities in the camp is because these things never happened.
The bridge in the photo above is over the Würm river which runs through the former concentration camp. The street is Pater-Roth Strasse which runs along the outside of the former camp.
The houses shown in the two photos above were built in the 1990s, but many visitors are appalled that German citizens today live so close to the former camp.
The people in the town of Dachau had frequent contact with the prisoners in the concentration camp because many of the prisoners worked in the town. There was a meat packing plant in the town of Dachau where the workers were prisoners from the camp. Other prisoners worked on building roads and a cemetery in the town. The SS men, who were the administrators at the camp, came to the town and socialized with the inhabitants at bars and dance halls.
Besides that, there were civilians in the town who worked in the factories at Dachau and had contact with the prisoners five days a week. There were at least two former prisoners who lived in the town and continued to work in the camp after they were released. People from the town frequently came into the camp to deliver something and prisoners went to the town to pick up bread from the bakeries. With all of this frequent contact, if there were any atrocities in the camp, the townspeople would have heard about it. But after the war, they all said that they didn’t know what was going on, according to the stories told by the survivors.
Maybe the people who lived in the town of Dachau didn’t know about the gas chamber because there was no gas chamber. Maybe they didn’t know about the 6,000 Russian POWs that were shot for target practice because this never happened. The people in the town sent food packages to the prisoners which were delivered by the Catholic church, so it is understandable that they didn’t know that the prisoners were starving.