|Dachau was a Nazi German concentration camp located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 miles) northwest of Munich in southern Germany. Opened on 22 March 1933, the Dachau concentration camp was the first regular concentration camp established by the National Socialist (Nazi) government. Heinrich Himmler, in his capacity as police president of Munich, officially described the camp as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."|
Dachau served as a prototype and model for the other Nazi concentration camps that followed. Its basic organization, camp layout as well as the plan for the buildings were developed by Kommandant Theodor Eicke and were applied to all later camps. He had a separate secure camp near the command center, which consisted of living quarters, administration, and army camps. Eicke himself became the chief inspector for all concentration camps, responsible for molding the others according to his model.
In total, over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were housed in Dachau of which nearly one-third were Jews. 25,613 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and almost another 10,000 in its subcamps, primarily from disease, malnutrition and suicide. In early 1945, there was a typhus epidemic in the camp followed by an evacuation, in which large numbers of the weaker prisoners died.
Together with the much larger Auschwitz, Dachau has come to symbolize the Nazi concentration camps to many people. KZ Dachau holds a significant place in public memory because it was the second camp to be liberated by British or American forces. Therefore, it was one of the first places in which the West was exposed to the reality of Nazi brutality through firsthand journalist accounts and through newsreels.