Mittwoch, 1. August 2012

The Bunker at Dachau concentration camp.

An important piece of the plot for "The Division of the Damned" takes place in a part of the Dachau concentration camp called, "The Bunker". In the story, this is where Smith finally meets up with Von Struck's squad and where Michael, the Teutonic Knight, tells them all of his plans to defeat the Dracyl.

The Bunker isn't just a figment of my imagination, it actually was used to hold prisoners of note. It was also situated next to the SS prison.

It was used from 1938 to 1945 to intern high-level "enemies of the state"; prominent people who were too high profile to simply execute but needed to be put out of harm's way. These included communist and socialist politicians, outspoken clergy and anyone of note who had fallen foul of the Nazi regime.

The prison cells in the bunker are situated in a long corridor which runs the length of the building. Every cell had a window that overlooked one of the two courtyards on either side. The "Honour Prisoners", as they were called, did not have to remain in their cells in the daytime and could walk around outside. One of the most famous prisoner's held in the Bunker was the Reverend Martin Niemöller. Rev. Niemöller wrote a famous passage that, for me, encapsulates the terrified mindset of the German population of that time.

"When the Nazis arrested the Communists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested the Jews, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Jew.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest."

In 1941, a new block was built next to the Bunker. This would be the SS prison, used to imprison SS camp guards who had broken the strict rules of the SS. The SS were apparently held to very high standards, though I find that hard to believe when one reads the stories of barbaric cruelty inflicted by the camp guards on the prisoners.

Even though men of the Waffen SS weren't sent there, I decided that I'd go ahead and use it for the story as it was the perfect place for Von Struck's men to meet up with Michael and Smith. This building is no longer standing and is rightly not spoken about in any of the tours of the camp, as the idea is to remember the victims and not the perpetrators of what happened there.

According to Paul Berben, a prisoner in Dachau who wrote the Official History of the camp, in April 1945, there were 128 German SS soldiers imprisoned in the SS wing next to the Bunker. On April 28, 1945 when the other guards left the camp, the SS were released and ordered to remain behind to guard the camp until it could be surrendered to the Americans. I think it's fair to assume they were probably among the soldiers who were killed by the Americans or beaten to death by the prisoners after the camp was liberated.

So now you know peeps, if you've read the book, I hope this has thrown a small light on this little known building.
If you haven't... why not? :-D
Take it easy.
Reggie :-)