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Prisoner Baths

The baths was the last station of the admission procedure. The newly arrived prisoners had their heads shaved, were disinfected, showered and then sent to the barracks dressed in their prisoner clothing. Those already imprisoned came here once a week at the beginning - later less frequently - to “bathe,” a procedure that according to the recollection of many survivors often involved harassment. At the same time though, many also tell of the relief at being able to finally wash themselves with a piece of soap or to feel briefly the luxury of warm water after the frequently long transports or weeks of imprisonment.


As the arbitrary tyranny and brutality increased after the start of the Second World War, an additional execution site for executing the punishment laid down in the camp regulations was set up in the prisoner baths. Between 1941/42 the pole hanging was carried out here; the whipping trestle was also set up and used at times as well.


The baths was also the last station of those prisoners who were selected by doctors as so-called “invalids” and sent to the gas chambers at Hartheim castle from 1942.


The photo is one of the documentary photos taken by the American liberators. It shows the prisoner baths and its water pipes and showerheads. We can also see liberated prisoners who have survived their ordeal in the camp, but whose physical state has clearly been weakened through the immense strain they had to endure.


In his memoirs the former prisoner Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz describes his admission to the Dachau concentration camp on 11/11/940:


We were showered under single shower heads fixed to the wall ... On a bench under the clothing hooks our new clothes lay in bundles. I was the last one. There was only one bundle left, a shirt, it didn't reach much pass my navel, a thin pair of underpants..., socks, the heels of which came to the middle of the sole, and the striped uniform! The trousers were too short, they only reached to a hand span over the ankles, and the smock could only be done up at the bottom with great difficulty, across the chest though it was impossible. Its sleeves were far too short and were too tight at the elbows. I'd gotten two different shoes, one fitted, the other was a torture chamber. ... The finale was the striped and peakless circular cap, I could only wear it like a crown, it sat so high on my head, and spitefully it refused to be pulled into a suitable shape. ...