| Dachau: Prisoner 89012
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|| Irving Eisner was among more than
200,000 people to be interned at Dachau, the first German concentration
camp officially declared by the Nazis, in March 1933.
Dachau was established at the site of a deserted gunpowder
factory near Munich, and first held political enemies of the Nazis
arrested after the January 30 Reichstag
fire. Through most of the Second World War, Dachau was used
primarily to hold criminals, political and other religious opponents
of the Nazis, and many if not most of the 32,000 who were registered
as having died there were Christian.
But in the final eight months of the war, as the Nazis
were forced to abandon their death camps in Poland, inmates were
transported to German camps that included Dachau. Of all the people
who died during the 12 years of Dachau's existence, nearly half
died of typhus
during the last four months. The epidemic had come with prisoners
transported from Polish camps.
The US Seventh Army liberated Dachau and its sub-camps
in late April 1945, freeing 70,000 prisoners, many of whom had arrived
only weeks before. Many of the liberated prisoners died, however,
victims of the typhus or from eating too much too soon, after living
so long on meager diets.
During those final days at Dachau, Eisner prayed that
he might be spared, so he could teach others, particularly children,
about the Holocaust
experience. He kept his promise, and has dedicated his life to teaching.
His book answers the question he was asked at every presentation:
"Why didn't you write down your memories?"
From the book