Unwanted witnesses

With so many early camps being located in residential areas, ordinary Germans living nearby saw prisoners being abused and heard their screams. As the following document shows, the Nazi authorities tried to put a stop to this, as it undermined the propaganda picture of camps as places of order and productive labour. In practice, however, the regime could not shut out unwanted witnesses of abuses.

008 – Warning to Dachau citizens in a local newspaper, June 1933


Warning to Dachau citizens in a local newspaper (June 1933)

On 30 May two persons were observed at the peripheral wall of the Dachau concentration camp as they were trying to look over the wall. Of course they were immediately arrested. They claimed to have looked over the wall out of curiosity about what the camp was looking like from inside. To enable them to satisfy their thirst for knowledge and to provide them with an opportunity to do so, they were kept in the concentration camp for one night. Hopefully their curiosity is now satisfied, even though this has happened in an unforeseen manner. In case any other curious individuals do not refrain from acting against the ban and look over the wall, they should, for the satisfaction of their curiosity, take note that in future they will be given not just one night but a more prolonged opportunity to study the camp. The curious are hereby warned again.

The Delegate of the Supreme SA Command
Special Commissioner Friedrichs

Source: Amper-Bote, 2 June 1933; reprinted in Comité International de Dachau (ed.), Konzentrationslager Dachau (Brussels, 1978), p. 44

Translation: Ewald Osers