Although Dachau had a gas chamber, which was shown in a film at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, the preferred method of killing the prisoners in the Dachau camp was by working them to death. When tourists take a guided tour of Dachau today, the tour typically starts at the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate into the prison enclosure where the tour guide tells visitors that the sign on the gate, which means “Work makes (one) free,” was intended to taunt the prisoners because no amount of work would lead to their freedom since the policy of the camp was to work the prisoners to death.
Dachau was opened in 1933, the year that I was born. Back then, it was common for people to die from over work. Almost no one in America exercised in those days; people felt that they got enough exercise by doing hard work. I recall that people were frequently admonished not to “work yourself to death.” The German people are famous for being hard workers. So it is not surprising that the prisoners at Dachau were “worked to death” as a means of extermination.
But is there any proof that prisoners at Dachau were “worked to death”? Yes. Just look at the photo below.
After Dachau was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945, a select group of prisoners were questioned by the Americans for two days. Information gathered from these prisoners was written in a book entitled “Dachau Liberated, the Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army.”
According to what the prisoners told the American liberators, the Labor Allocation Office (Arbeitseinsatz) was the most important office in the Dachau camp administration. This office allocated the laborers for the work commandos (Arbeitskommandos) and also determined which prisoners would be transported to other concentration camps or to the Dachau sub-camps to work.
According to information gathered by the Americans during the two days of interviews with the Dachau survivors, the Labor Allocation Office “was run entirely by prisoners.” So it was the prisoners themselves who decided who would live and who would be worked to death! (more…)