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Dachau Memorial Site staff gets an overview of documents

Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, Director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, spent a week with two colleagues at the International Tracing Service (ITS) getting an overview of the collection of documents housed in Bad Arolsen. They focused mainly on the fates of former prisoners and the SS´s written correspondence on the Dachau concentration camp. “We are impressed by the breadth of the documents, which are of particular importance to our archive and to the field of research,” said Hammermann.

“In total, there were nearly 200,000 prisoners from all over Europe who were incarcerated for various reasons at Dachau concentration camp and its subcamps,” reported memorial staff member Dr. Dirk Riedel. “Of those, we know about 195,000 names.” At the ITS, Riedel is specifically researching the persecution fate of surviving prisoners. “We want to depict victims´ lives as completely as possible, not just their imprisonment,” he emphasized. In the meantime, his colleague Albert Knoll is finishing work on the “Death Book.” Knoll is looking through the ITS´s Central Name Index, which contains references to 17.5 million people, in order to find out if prisoners were liberated or murdered.  

Hammermann, who has led the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site since January 2009, also viewed general records on the Dachau camp and its subcamps during her visit. She is delighted: “As of March 1945, the documentation in our archive is incomplete. We can fill in the gaps at the ITS.”  Hammermann spoke with ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel in order to intensify the cooperation between the Tracing Service and the Memorial. As a member of the German-Italian Historian Commission, she did some preliminary research by viewing personal files of those interned by the Italian military, as the Commission plans to give research assignments to young academics.

The Dachau concentration camp was established for political prisoners a few weeks after Adolf Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, and existed until its liberation on April 29, 1945. The Memorial Site was established in 1965 on the initiative of the surviving prisoners, who joined together to form the Comité International de Dachau.  From 1996-2003 a new exhibition on Dachau´s history was created. A visitor center with a reception and service area as well as bookstore and café was opened in April 2009.