Just outside the town of Dachau, about twelve miles from Munich, the first concentration camp was set up in a former powder-mill on 22 March1 . There was no secret about the camp’s existence. Himmler had even held a press conference two days earlier to announce it. It began with 200 prisoners. Its capacity was given as 5,000. It was intended, stated Himmler, to hold the Communist and, if necessary, Reichsbanner and Marxist (i.e. Social Democrat) functionaries. Its establishment was announced in the newspapers. It was meant to serve as a deterrent, and did so. Its dreaded name soon became a byword for the largely unspoken horrifying events known or presumed to take place within its walls. ‘Keep quiet or you’ll end up in Dachau’ was soon to join common parlance. But apart from the political enemies and racial targets of the Nazis, few were disconcerted at the foundation of the camp, and others like it. The middle-class townsfolk of Dachau, watching the column of their Communist fellow-citizens from the town being marched to the nearby camp as political prisoners, thought them troublemakers, revolutionaries, ‘a class apart’, simply not part of their world.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (p. 464). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).
Dachau opened on March 22, 1933. ↩︎