From the mid-1930s, the purpose of the concentration camps shifted. With the domestic resistance against Nazism broken, the focus of the authorities increasingly shifted to criminals and so-called asocials. This shift was reflected in Nazi propaganda, such as a long article about Dachau published in an illustrated Nazi magazine in 1936. Articles such as this cemented the public image of prisoners as dangerous criminals. It also repeated earlier propaganda lies about the Camp SS being strict but fair.
These are no longer the political inmates of 1933, of whom only a small percentage is still in the camp while the rest have long since been released, but for the most part a selection of asocial elements, recidivist political muddle-heads, vagabonds, work-shy persons and drunkards […], émigrés and Jewish parasites on the nation, offenders against morality of every kind and a group of professional criminals on whom preventive police custody has been imposed. They have all been deprived of every field of activity for their base instincts: work alone is open to them, work which many of them have shunned all their lives. […]
the typical face of the born criminal
On our walk through the camp we often encounter the typical face of the born criminal; by way of contrast the camp itself is marked by exemplary and strictly planned order. Military discipline and punctuality, painstaking cleanliness and the ornament of careful work on all things are the outstanding features of the whole camp; their maintenance is unwaveringly carried out by the camp command, with the SS guard personnel setting a fine example themselves. […]
The inmates’ state of health is excellent. The regular lifestyle, good nourishing food and regular sleep, regulated work and rest breaks, the absence of any kind of dissipation and alcoholic excesses, have played their part. […]
Discipline in the camp is strict and the service of the SS on this lonely outpost, keeping guard in the service of the people’s community, is hard. The most sacred values of the nation are at stake in this tough setting, but very few think of this when the conversation is about the Dachau concentration camp, because they don’t know it. That is why the Illustrierter Beobachter thought it appropriate, with a series of pictures, to present a useful insight into the camp which, primarily, wishes to be an educational institution for the simplest basic rules of human coexistence.
Source: ‘Konzentrationslager Dachau’, Illustrierter Beobachter, 3 December 1936 (emphasis in the original)
Translation: Ewald Osers