Scrapbookpages Blog

February 22, 2017

Karl Röder was forced by Nazi officials to forge the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan on the Dachau gate

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:41 pm
My photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

My photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

The title of this blog post comes from a line in a news article, which you can read in full at http://www.dw.com/en/stolen-arbeit-macht-frei-gate-returned-to-holocaust-memorial-in-dachau/a-37665320

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

The original wrought-iron gate carrying the infamous Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (“work sets you free”) was returned to Dachau from Norway on Wednesday.

It will be restored and publicly unveiled this April on the 72nd anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The gate will not be returned to its original location, but rather be displayed in the museum on the grounds of the former concentration camp near Munich in Bavaria that now serves as a memorial.

End quote

I have been to the former Dachau camp several times, beginning with my first visit in 1998.

The red brick road up to the Dachau gate

My photo of the red brick road up to the Dachau gatehouse

I have a section on my website about the Dachau gate: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/Gatehouse.html

The iron gate at the entrance through the Dachau gatehouse into the prison compound is shown in my photo at the top of this page.

The sign which reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” was removed soon after the Dachau camp was liberated, but it was reconstructed in 1965 at the same time that two barrack buildings were reconstructed for visitors. One of the reconstructed barracks can be seen on the left side of my photo at the top of this page.

The slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” was allegedly coined by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels in an effort to convince the public that the Nazi concentration camps were merely work camps designed to politically rehabilitate Communists, Social Democrats and anarchists.

This slogan was first used over the gate of a “wild camp” in the city of Oranienburg which was set up in an abandoned brewery in March 1933 during the time that the first political prisoners were being held for an indefinite period without charges in a number of places in Germany.

In 1936, the Oranienburg camp was rebuilt as the Sachsenhausen camp. The Dachau camp was also rebuilt, starting in 1936. The gatehouse at Sachsenhausen also bears this inscription, but the third major German concentration camp, Buchenwald, has a sign on the gate that reads “Jedem das Seine,” which means To Each his Own.

Dachau and Sachsenhausen were both Class I camps for offenders, who were considered capable of being rehabilitated and who were eligible for possible release.

Rudolf Höss, who trained at Dachau and then served as an adjutant at Sachsenhausen before becoming the first Commandant at Auschwitz, used this motto over the gate into the main camp, Auschwitz I, which was classified as a Class I camp for political prisoners. Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, was not a Class I camp, so Birkenau did not have this slogan over the gatehouse.

Two other Nazi concentration camps which used the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” on their gate houses were Flossenbürg and Gross-Rosen. This slogan also appeared on a gate inside the Gestapo prison in the Small Fortress at Terezin, formerly known as Theresienstadt.

November 4, 2011

Who shot the lock off the Dachau gate when the camp was liberated by American soldiers?

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 5:33 am

Gate into Dachau was locked by a bar over the Arbeit Macht Frei sign on the door

Japanese-American soldiers who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army are being honored this week for their service to their country.  This quote is from a news article which you can read in full here:

“Two of our [442nd] guys shot the locks off the [Dachau] compound to let the prisoners out, but they wouldn’t come out because they thought we were the Japanese army,” said [Virgil] Westdale.

The 442nd not only liberated the Dachau prisoners, but shared food and blankets with them and scrounged supplies from the neighboring German town.

“The misery we witnessed was unbelievable. Some of the guys snapped photos of the bodies stacked like cords of wood. We saw the gas chambers and the ovens, which were still hot when we arrived,” said Westdale in his book “Blue Skies and Thunder,” released in January 2010.

What lock? There was no lock on the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate into the concentration camp that needed to be shot off. The gate could be opened from the outside by removing a bar which locked it. The gate was wide enough for a truck to drive through it, but there was also a pedestrian door in the gate that could be opened without opening the whole gate. The pedestrian door could only be opened by remote control from inside the gatehouse. There were SS guards inside the gatehouse, waiting to surrender. Twelve SS men who were guarding the gate surrendered to 1st Lt. William J. Cowling, according to John H. Linden, the author of “Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp 29 Apr 45, the True Account.”

Gate into the Dachau Memorial site is the original gate into the camp

My photo of the gate into the Dachau concentration camp and the restraining bar which locked the entire gate is shown above. When the bar was removed and the whole gate was opened, the pedestrian gate was part of the right-hand half of the gate.    (more…)

January 30, 2011

Who built the Arbeit Macht Frei gate at Dachau?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:46 am

This morning I was reading a travel blog written by a woman who had visited Dachau.  She was curious about who had made the Arbeit Macht Frei sign that is on the gate into the camp.

This is a quote from the blog post:

That Arbeit Macht Frei sign? That was someone’s job, to make that sign. Who was he? Did he know its final destination? Did he know what would happen on the other side of it? Did he appreciate the stark irony of prisoners being worked to death in the shadow of those words?    (more…)