A Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich, Germany

Julie Germany 6 Comments

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps. It is located near Munich, Germany. A visit here is an incredibly moving experience and a valuable history lesson. Here are some things you should know while planning your visit. 

History of Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau was the Nazi’s first concentration camp and was the only concentration camp to have existed throughout the entire twelve years of Nazi rule. In the early years it was the largest and most well-known concentration camp. Initially, it was used as a place to imprison political prisoners, but later Dachau became a transfer station to other concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Dachau was planned and constructed to hold 6,000 prisoners, but by the end of WWII in 1945, Dachau was home to 32,000 prisoners. The conditions of course were terrible with overcrowding, torture, and lack of food. Thousands of people died here, either from disease, torture, lack of food, medical experimentation, or murder. There was a gas chamber here but it was never used. Unfortunately, what got a lot of use was the crematorium, of which there were several.

Dachau Germany

Visiting Dachau

The entrance is through the same gate prisoners would pass through, a metal gate stating “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which means “work makes you free,” which of course was a lie.

Arbeit Macht Frei

Visitors are able to walk the grounds, visit one of the last standing dormitories, and visit the museum, which is excellent. Inside of the museum is a chronological history of the Nazi regime, WWII, and the use of Dachau from WWII up until present time.

There is a graphic, twenty minute movie about the history of Dachau which is not recommended for children. It is disturbing, with its images of death and starvation, but a must see while visiting Dachau.

Inside Dachau

Dachau with Kids

Dachau Memorial

Jewish Memorial

Should Kids Visit Dachau?

We had concerns taking Tyler and Kara here since it is a site not recommended for children under the age of 12. At the time of our visit, Tyler was 11 years old and Kara was almost 10 years old.

Tim and I do not want to shelter the kids…we think it is important for them to learn about world history, even the atrocities that occurred during WWII. If either of them found what we saw too disturbing we would leave. Tyler and Kara handled seeing Dachau very well, but they were some of the only children we saw while visiting the memorial.

Should You Take a Tour of Dachau?

Tours are optional and a great way to learn the history of Dachau. Plus, those who take the tours rave about the experience. I recommend taking a tour to get the most out of your visit.

We were unable to take a tour because Tyler and Kara were not old enough during our visit. The tour is only for those 14 years and older.

Guided tours in English are offered daily at 11 am and 1 pm. On weekends during peak season (June 22 to September 15) there is an additional tour at 12:15 pm. Tickets cost €3.50 per person and can be purchased at the Visitor Center. Only those 14 years and older are permitted to attend the tour. The tour lasts 2.5 hours.

If you prefer not to take a guided tour, audio guides are also available (€4).

How to get to Dachau from Munich

From Munich, take the local S-Bahn S2 line towards Petershausen. Get off at the Dachau station (about 25 minutes by train from Central Station). Exit the Dachau station, cross the street to the bus station, and take bus 726 to Dachau Camp (KZ-Gedenkstätte).

If you have a car, there is a parking lot next to the memorial center at 73 Alte Romerstrasse. It costs €3 to park here. Currently, there is renovation work at the parking lot which can disrupt parking. This is expected to last until 2020 (using public transportation is recommended until the construction is completed).

Hours of Operation

Dachau is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on December 24th.

Entry is free. No advance tickets are necessary.

Allow half a day for a visit to Dachau.

For more information, including updated hours of operation, click here.


Comments 6

  1. I went there quite a few years ago, the picture of seperation of a mother and daughter was the saddest thing I saw. I have a very good sense of smell and you could still smell death there. This was in 1983.

  2. After reading your blog, we decided this is something we definitely have to do during our trip. We won’t have a car, and were traveling from Zürich to Munich by train. Can you tell me how difficult it is to get Dachau from the city? My husband is a huge WWII fan, is there anything else in the area you would recommend? Thank you!

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      Author

      Hello Kristen,

      It is so easy to get to Dachau from Munich. The metro (S2 line) takes you to Dachau Station and then a 15 minute bus (#726) will take you to the entrance. Check out this link for more in-depth info: http://www.discovermunich.net/doItYourself/dachau.html. Plan on spending half of your day in Dachau and don’t miss the video…you learn a lot! There are also guided tours twice a day. I recommend reading the book “The Book Thief” before going…it is a fictional book about WWII that takes place in Munich…I wish I had read it before going and it is now one of my favorite books.

      I can’t think of anything else WWII related in Munich but do a Google search…there may be more than Dachau. Berchtesgaden (2-3 hours southeast of Munich by car) is where you can visit the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s base during WWII.

      Cheers! Julie

  3. How great to read about your time in Dauchau. Being remind of our worlds atrocities is disturbing, but necessary so that we never let history repeat itself. Thank you for the story and for being brave enough to know your children could handle the facts about history..the good and the bad…..The beer garden sounded like so much fun especially the oversized beers….Good Luck in your flight to So Africa. Looking forward to hearing more.

  4. WONDERED IF YOU WOULD GO TO THE CONCENTRATION CAMP. I KNOW IT WAS A HARD THING FOR THE KIDS TO SEE, BUT AN IMPORTANT PART OF HISTORY FOR THEM TO LEARN. I CRIED THE WHOLE WAY THRU OUR TOUR. MADE ME QUESTION WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE. THERE WERE SO MANY HOUSES SO CLOSE. PEOPLE HAD TO HAVE KNOWN WHAT WAS HAPPENING. JOHN IN THERE DEFENSE SAID IF THEY HAD CHILDREN THEY MIGHT HAVE TURNED A BLIND EYE, IN FEAR OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM IF THEY FOUGHT THE NAZIS. NEEDED BEER AFTER THAT TOUR. LOTS OF IT.

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      Author

      Yes it was hard, but good for us and our kids to see. It’s funny you mention the beer. Immediately after Dachau we went right to the Hofbrauhaus for those huge beers.

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