The teasing Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to KZ-Gedenkstatte Dachau (Dachau Concentration Camp)
The cruel sign on the gates at Dachau, promising (falsely, of course) that work would bring freedom.

The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, a Nazi concentration camp outside Munich

Dachau fence
The fence at Dachau. (Photo by Edwin Lee)
On March 22, 1933—just a few weeks after Hitler rose to power as Reich Chancellor—SS leader Heinrich Himmler set up Nazi Germany's first concentration camp in a little town outside Munich called Dachau.

Between 1933 and 1945, 206,000 prisoners were officially registered here, and countless thousands more were interned without record.

By the gate as you enter is inscribed the taunting Nazi slogan Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work Makes Freedom")—as if working hard and being a model prisoner made any kind of difference to ones fate.

Each of the barracks at the camp was built to house 208 people; by 1936, they accommodated up to 1,600 each.

A building at Dachau
A building at Dachau with the remains of the rail depot that once delivered prisoners in the foreground. (Photo by Andrew Bossi)
While Allied troops razed the 32 prisoners' barracks to the ground when they liberated the camp on April 29, 1945, two of them have been reconstructed to illustrate the squalid living conditions.

The former kitchen is now a museum whose photographs document the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of Jews, communists, gypsies, homosexuals, and other "undesirables."

There's also a short documentary film (the English version usually shows at 11:30am and 3:30pm).

At the back of the camp are the ovens of the crematorium and a gas chamber disguised as showers.

No prisoners were actually gassed at Dachau (however, over 3,000 Dachau inmates were sent to an Austrian camp to be executed in this manner). This room was simply used for beatings and pointless, cruel interrogations.

The liberation of Dachau concentration camp
The liberation of Dachau, 29 April 1945.
Although Dachau—unlike other camps such as Auschwitz in Poland—was primarily for political prisoners and not expressly a death camp, more than 41,500 people died here from the brutal conditions, and thousands more were outright executed.

The camp is scattered with Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant memorials.

How to get to Dachau

To spend an hour or two here remembering the darkest days of modern history, either take a tour or hop the S2 S-Bahn train from Marienplatz to Dachau (direction: Petershausen) in 25 minutes.

(Note that this is six zones out from the center; if you have a inner city day pass for the S-Bahn, it won't cover it; you need the "XXL Munich" pass for this day.)

From Dachau station, bus 726 (direction: Saubachsiedlung) takes you to the camp.

Tips & Links

Dachau details

Alte Römerstraße 75, Dachau

Tel. +49-(0)89/669-970


Daily 9am–5pm (administrative office & archives closed Mon)




S-Bahn: Dachau (S2), then bus 726.


• Private Tour: Dachau Concentration Camp Tour from Munich
• Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Small Group Tour from Munich
• Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Afternoon Tour from Munich
• Also possibly of interest: Hitler and the Third Reich Munich Walking Tour

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How long does Dachau take?

Planning your time: Budget at least half a day for Dachau, including transportation.

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Dachau tours

Though admission is free, in-depth guided tours—at 11am and 1pm and lasting 2.5 hours—cost €3.

Or you can visit Dachau on a guided tour from Munich via our partners Viator.com:

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2013.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.