On This Day
1945 – Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States troops.
Dachau concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau, IPA: [ˈdaxaʊ]) was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. The camps were liberated by U.S. forces on 29 April 1945.
Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, floggings, the so-called tree or pole hanging, and standing at attention for extremely long periods. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands that are undocumented.
Approximately 10,000 of the 30,000 prisoners were sick at the time of liberation.
In the postwar years the Dachau facility served to hold SS soldiers awaiting trial. After 1948, it held ethnic Germans who had been expelled from eastern Europe and were awaiting resettlement, and also was used for a time as a United States military base during the occupation. It was finally closed in 1960.
There are several religious memorials within the Memorial Site, which is open to the public.
Born On This Day
Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman (commonly called H.N. Werkman; 29 April 1882 – 10 April 1945) was an experimental Dutch artist, typographer and printer. He set up a clandestine printing house during the Nazi occupation (1940–45) and was shot by the Gestapo in the closing days of the war.
Life and work
Werkman was born in Leens, in the province of Groningen. He was the son of a veterinary surgeon who died while he was young, after which his mother moved the family to the city of Groningen. In 1908, he established a printing and publishing house there that at its peak employed some twenty workers. Financial setbacks forced its closure in 1923, after which Werkman started anew with a small workshop in the attic of a warehouse.
Werkman was a member of the artists’ group De Ploeg (“The Plough”), for whom he printed posters, invitations and catalogues. From 1923 to 1926, he produced his own English-named avant-garde magazine The Next Call, which, like other works of the period, included collage-like experimentation with typefaces, printing blocks and other printers’ materials. He would distribute the magazine by exchanging it for works by other avant-garde artists and designers abroad and so kept in touch with progressive trends in European art. Among the most fruitful contacts were with Theo van Doesburg, Kurt Schwitters, El Lissitzky and Michel Seuphor, the last of whom exhibited a print of his in Paris.
Such contact was vital while Werkman was building up his business and could not leave Groningen. In 1929 he was able to visit Cologne and Paris, after which he developed a new printing method, applying the ink roller directly to the paper and then stamping to achieve unique effects on a simple handpress. The more complex of these required some fifty handlings in and out of the press and could take a whole day to complete. Another of his experimental techniques was the painstaking production of abstract designs using the typewriter, which he called tiksels. After 1929 he also began writing rhythmic sound poems.
In May 1940, soon after the German invasion of the Netherlands, Werkman started a clandestine publishing house, De Blauwe Schuit (“The Blue Barge”), which ran to forty publications, all designed and illustrated by Werkman. Included there were a series of Hassidic stories from the legend of the Baal Shem Tov. On 13 March 1945, the Gestapo arrested Werkman, executing him by firing squad along with nine other prisoners in the forest near Bakkeveen on 10 April, three days before Groningen was liberated. Many of his paintings and prints, which the Gestapo had confiscated, were lost in the fire that broke out during the battle over the city.
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