Fred Long: Classroom Discussions

Fred Long (26 minutes)

Historical notes:

Dachau, in a northwestern suburb of Munich, was the first camp established by the Nazis (in 1933).  It was always a concentration camp, not a death camp, so in spite of its size and twelve-year history, the number of deaths there was relatively low – 35,000.  There was a gas chamber but it was never used.  At first Dachau was used for political prisoners and other “undesirables,” though eventually most of the inmates were Jewish.  SS training also took place there.  The efficient organization system developed by its commander, Theodor Eicke, became a model for all other camps.  Of the quarter-million inmates who passed through Dachau, the majority were not German, the Poles (Jewish and non-Jewish) being the largest group, Many of the inmates worked as slave labor in airplane and rocket factories.  Medical experiments were also conducted at Dachau, especially on “mental defectives.”  About 67,000 people were still there when the US Third Army liberated the camp.  After the war, some of those executed as a result of the Nuremberg trials were cremated there.  Today it is a memorial and museum maintained by the German government.


For discussion purposes:


1.  How could someone still be affected psychologically by seeing a concentration camp, fifty years after the event?


2.  How would an experience like Fred’s change you?


3.  Fred was a soldier, and had seen some hard fighting as the Allies advanced across Germany.  Why should he have been shocked when he saw Dachau?


4.  In your own life, have you had the experience of discovering something painful and shocking?  Was it something you might have prevented, had you known about it?  Did you feel guilty, or angry, or both?


5.  If you had been a US government official during the war, and had known about the camps, would you have made the information public?  Why or why not?

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