Sprawling with centuries-old buildings and a host of museums, Munich - the capital city of Bavaria is the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg. Much of the town is steeped in history and just 16 km away from the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. If you’re in Munich, it would be ideal to plan a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. This could be a somber experience that will leave a lasting impression on you and serves as a grim reminder of destruction wreaked by political powers in the wrong hands.
Dachau Concentration Camp
The Dachau Concentration Camp tour will prove to be a surreal experience, even to those who don't know much about the Nazi era. Dachau was the first of many concentration camps opened in 1933 on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory. Spearheaded by Heinrich Himmler who was among the chief architect of the Holocaust and Theodor Eicke who was appointed commandant of the concentration camp, Dachau was primarily intended to hold political prisoners. However, it functioned as a forced labor camp for Jews, homosexuals, convicted Germans, and others. The prisoners were brought here from all of Germany and were greeted with the motto “Work will make you free”, which was essentially propaganda meant to trivialize the concentration camp as a labor/ re-education camp when in reality it was a forced labor induced torture camp. What’s horrific is that Dachau went on to become the prototype for future extermination camps that sprung across Germany.
The Dachau Concentration Camp was functional for almost twelve years and recorded 32,000 deaths while thousands of them were undocumented, before being liberated by American forces in April 1945. This training ground for terror saw blatant human rights abuse in countless ways and sheer brutality that saw thousands succumb to sickness and diseases.
Dachau Concentration Camp Tour
A Dachau Concentration Camp Tour may take about 3 to 4 hours, but the poignancy of the memorial may take you a lifetime to comprehend. Here's what you can explore on these grounds:
The International Memorial
Designed by Nandor Glid, a Yugoslavian artist and survivor of the camp, the International Memorial serves as a grim reminder of Nazi atrocities. Fence posts, ditches and barbed wire ensconced by human skeletons show the desperation of suicidal prisoners. Placed at the end is an urn with the ashes of unknown prisoners reading 'Never Again' in different languages.
The Maintenance Building now houses photos and video exhibits of the memorial site, along with the personal effects of prisoners, adding an element of morbid reality to the place. One can also view the prisoner kitchen and baths, and the shunt room, the site of a most degrading experience for prisoners who entered the camp.
Roll Call Square
The roll call square saw the assembly of prisoners for hours together as they waited for their names to announced, twice every day, or for carrying out of punishments. The area was large enough to hold 50,000 people.
Only two of the old remains of barracks have been reconstructed for the memorial to showcase the strict life and regimen of the prisoners. The fact that the camp was equipped for 6000 prisoners but hosted 30000 prisoners at any point in time will give you an idea of the gross conditions.
This is where newly arrived prisoners had their heads shaved and were asked to shower. They were then asked to scavenge among piles of the remnants for their prison uniform. In some camps, this was where prisoners were gassed to death but in Dachau, a torture method called pole hanging was employed which left the victims with severe wrist and shoulder damage.
The Camp Road stretches from the Maintenance Building to the religious sites and crematoriums and was earlier structured by barracks on either side. The road features trees planted by the prisoners to beautify the place prior to a human rights inspection.
A look into the Dachau Concentration Camp Fact reveals that most of the crematorium ovens were operational day and night to dispose off corpses from the camps. On liberation day, American soldiers found masses of bodies piled up to be disposed - serving as a reminder of the mercilessness of Nazi persecution.
It's no surprise that this sorrowful a place has five religious memorials built at the back namely Mortal Agony of Christ Chapel, Carmelite Convent, Protestant Church of Reconciliation, Jewish Memorial, and Russian-Orthodox Chapel. Visitors can spend some moments of peace and pray for the souls of the tormented here.
Dachau Concentration Camp Tickets
While admission for the Dachau Concentration Camp is free, you can take an audio-guided tour or a 30-minute/ 2½-hour walking tour. However, the most comfortable option is to take a guided coach tour from Munich which takes care of your travel and guided tour.
Dachau Concentration Camp Guided Tour from Munich
- Discover the longest existing concentration camp of Hitler’s times at Dachau in Munich.
- Explore the massive Dachau concentration camps over a period of 4 hours and explore the Schutzstaffel (SS) training quarters, the Jourhaus, the Crematoriums, Barracks, and the heinous gas chamber.
- With a Dachau Memorial guide accompanying you, delve into the depths of the history of the area, and the significance of the Nazi rule in Germany.
- With transport to and from the site arranged, enjoy a hassle-free and relaxed experience.
Dachau Concentration Camp & Hebertshausen tour from Munich
- Visit one of the prime monuments of Nazi rule in Germany, at the Dachau Concentration Camp and get to see the barracks, bunkers, crematoriums, torture chambers, and gas chambers firsthand.
- Listen to knowledgeable commentary from your english speaking guide about the camp, and understand how Dachau went on to become a model for every other concentration camp set up by the Nazis.
- Then visit the former SS shooting range at Herbertshausen, the site where the Nazis murdered over 4,000 Soviet prisoners of war.
- Enjoy a convenient and hassle-free transport to Dachau from Munich, saving you the effort of finding a way to reach the destination by yourself.
Going From Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp
Travelers visiting Munich often embark on a half-day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. A trip here is an experience of a lifetime and not meant for the faint-hearted. Munich is fairly well connected to Dachau and one can easily book a guided tour or reach the site via public transport.
Dachau is 30 km to the north west of Munich in the state of Bavaria.
Duration of travel
It takes around half an hour to get to Dachau Concentration Camp from Munich.
Getting from Munich to Dachau
It is fairly easy to get to Dachau from Munich. There are multiple options to choose from.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to Dachau Concentration Camp from Munich if you take the S2 train from Munich’s Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). From the Dachau station, you can hop onto a bus to reach the memorial site.
One needs to take Bus #726 from the train station at Dachau in the direction of Saubach Siedlung to go right till the camp.
While the drive is excellent and Munich is well-connected to Highways, it isn’t the best idea to take the car from Munich as parking may be a problem. There are some developmental works in progress on the visitor’s parking site which is expected to be completed in 2020.
Guided Tours From Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp
A guided tour from Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp works best if you’d like to listen to commentary from a specially trained guide. With Headout’s Guided tour package, you can visit the Nazi’s first concentration camp and also make a stop at Herbertshausen - which used to be a shooting range where the SS killed over 4,000 Soviet prisoners of war. The tour charges are inclusive of the professional guide, the access to the sites, and transport in an air-conditioned coach along with a 20-minute documentary about Dachau.
Dachau Concentration Camp Timings
The Dachau Concentration Camp memorial site is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It remains closed on December 24th.
Should Kids Visit The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site ?
The Dachau Concentration Camp is a place where time has stood still - the emptiness evokes a piercing sadness that remains with you long after you’ve visited this place. It’s not the best idea to bring young kids here, but at the same time, it’s essential for older kids to understand the cruelty meted out to innocents, and to be more empathetic in life.
Insider Tips for your Dachau Concentration Camp Tour
- If you have time in hand and wish to understand the depth of history surrounding the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, it’s a good idea to opt for a guided tour which usually begins around 11 AM and 1 PM daily. You can sign up for this on the spot, or take a guided tour from Munich to Dachau which will entrust you with a local historian guide.
- There is a movie presentation in various languages at the camp, but not all at the same time. Make sure you find out at what time your language preference will be shown. It makes sense to watch the movie first and be orientated about what to expect.
- A trip to Dachau can be an overwhelming experience, so it’s best to keep this day free from any other activities - you may just want to go back and reflect on everything you’ve seen.
- It’s a good idea to have a full meal before visiting Dachau - many people feel a loss of appetite once they’ve visited the concentration camp.
- Water is a must, so ensure that you keep yourself hydrated with tonnes of juice and water.
- Keep comfortable footwear for the Dachau Concentration Camp Tour as it's spread over a large area and you may end up walking quite a bit.
- If you travel to the memorial by car, please note that parking fees are €3 per car.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Reviews
The Dachau Concentration Camp is a must do in Germany. It is a beautifully kept camp with many interactive activities, such as small phones that, when picked up, recite certain prisoners’ stories. Not recommended without a guide, that is a must as there is so much history that is not included un the audio tour, the audio tour does not do it justice. It is very well-preserved. The barracks, the gas chambers, the prison cells, all are very well kept with lots of facts about it. It is not recommended for kids under the age of 12, or anyone who cannot handle graphic images and stories.
There is a lot of walking to and in the camp, but it is worth it. It is a full-day activity due to how big the camp is and how much history is crammed into it, but it is a must do if in Germany. It is a little outside Munich, had to take a train and a bus to reach there. There is also a café there in case you get hungry before or after the tour. Overall, it is an awesome place to visit and should be visited by everyone.
Anavi K, Tripadvisor 2019
We took a day tour to Dachau from Munich. They did a fabulous job - our guide was extremely knowledgeable and her English was excellent so she was easy to understand. This is such an important place to visit both for it's historical significance and it's sad place in the story of mankind's brutal nature. Be forewarned - you'll see things that are incredibly disturbing even though, as it turns out, Dachau was not an extermination camp, though there was a significant amount of killing. We've all heard the stories of the brutality and inhumanity that occurred in these places and it is sobering to say the least to see where and how those things happened. Grey Line included a short side trip to nearby Nazi shooting range where thousands of Soviet POWs were slaughtered. It's all so incredible and important to remember. Highly recommended though clearly not suitable for anyone under 14 (the site's rule).
Doug G, Tripadvisor 2019
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