Dachau Palace

Dachau Palace

Overlooking the River Amper, the original 12th century castle built by the House of Wittenbach for the Counts of Dachau was demolished in 1403. Just under a century and a half later in 1546, a thirty-year construction project started on the new Dachau Palace. A spectacular four-winged Renaissance-style palace emerged during the reigns of Wilhelm IV and Albrecht V and was designed by Munich court architects Heinrich Schöttl and Wilhelm Egkl for the rulers of Bavaria.

During renovations in the mid-1560s, Duke Albrecht commissioned a series of intricate tapestries chronicling the deeds of Hercules from Belgian artist Michel de Bos. They were subsequently transferred to the Munich Residence to make way for a gallery of portraits of Bavaria’s ruling elite and their families, however he undoubted star attraction at Dachau Palace is the spectacular wooden coffered Renaissance ceiling in the Banqueting Hall.

Saved from later demolition (as was Hans Thonauer’s grisaille painting), it was created by Munich-based woodcarver Hans Wisreutter and it remains one of the most impressive in all of southern Germany. It was transferred to the Bavarian National Museum in the 1860s but returned to Dachau in 1977.

Maximillian II Emanuel commissioned Joseph Effner to create a Baroque redesign in 1715 and then between 1806 and 1809, King Maximillian I ordered the demolition of three wings that had been badly damaged during the Napoleonic Wars because he couldn’t afford to rebuild them. Today, only the south-west wing is extant.

The stunning Renaissance gardens were created in the late 1570s based on plans by painter-architect Friedrich Sustris. They were designed with walls and flower beds in geometrical order but were replaced in 1715 by Effner during his Baroque redesign with large broderie beds, topiary boxes and floral borders. Subsequent 18th century additions included a forest, play equipment and fruit trees.

The vistas from the top of the hill – schlossberg – are spectacular, looking down on the city of Munich and out over the Bavarian Alps and today, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the palace and the grounds, including the Bee Garden.


The Dachau concentration camp was established in March 1933. It was the first regular concentration camp established by the National Socialist (Nazi) government. Heinrich Himmler, as police president of Munich, officially described the camp as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners."

It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the northeastern part of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany. On March 22, 1933, the first prisoner transports arrived at the camp.


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Who was Eliane Plewman?

Eliane Plewman was born in Marseille, France, but moved to Leicester as a child and was working in a fabric exporting company at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Ms Plewman married Tom Plewman, an officer in the Royal Artillery, after a whirlwind romance in 1942.

With a Spanish mother, she used her language skills to work for the Ministry of Information, from where she signed up for the Special Operations Executive.

After completing her gruelling field training, where she learnt hand-to-hand combat and to handle explosives, she was parachuted behind enemy lines into the Jura region of France on August 14, 1943.

Here, she provided communications link between groups of saboteurs and intelligence gathering agents.

During one daring mission, the agent evaded German patrols to lay explosives under a railway line.

When they exploded, 30 locomotives were put out of service, hampering the enemy's attempts to move troops and supplies by rail.

She was arrested at a safe house in Marseille on or around March 23, 1944, when it was raided by the Gestapo.

She was imprisoned and tortured at Fresnes prison in France and then transferred to Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany.

She was executed aged 26 on September 13, 1944.

Major General Colin Gubbins recommended Eliane Plewman for an MBE but as the award does not allow posthumous awards she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct instead.

The elite group, who were famously ordered them to 'set Europe ablaze' by Sir Winston Churchill, were tasked with using sneaky espionage tactics in order to operate in every enemy-controlled nation in Europe and south-east Asia.

The primary mission of the SOE was to aid resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe by any means possible.

They were made up of a number of independent resistance groups established in France.

In August 1943, the secret agent parachuted out of a Handley Page Halifax bomber aircraft behind enemy line into the Jura region of France from an altitude of just over 1,000 feet.

Upon landing, she found out her support network was not in the region but she still managed to locate a pre-agreed safe house.

Here, she learnt from neighbours that the Gestapo had arrested all the operatives there, so she made her own way to Marseille, more than 300 miles away.

The journey took her two months and once she reached the Mediterranean coast she began working in a secret network know as the 'MONK circuit'.

During her missions, Ms Plewman carried explosives to all the sabotage operation locations, a perilous task which left her vulnerable to being searched.

She was also a courier delivering messages, documents and wireless equipment to the Resistance network around Marseille, which was swarming with German armed forces.

However in early 1944, her cover was eventually blown when the network was infiltrated and she was captured by the Gestapo.

The SOE agent was arrested at a safe house in Marseille in March 1944, when it was raided by the Gestapo.

She was imprisoned and tortured at Fresnes prison in France and then transferred to Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany.

On September 1944, Ms Plewman was executed at the age of just 26.

Three other SOE agents - Yolande Beekman, Madeleine Damerment and Noor Inayat Khan - were also executed on the same day.

The female agents were taken from their cell and forced to kneel in pairs before being executed by a single shot to the head by executioner Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert - an SS trooper.

Ms Plewman along with Yolande Beekman, Madeleine Damerment and Noor Inayat Khan was executed by a single shot to the head by executioner Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert (pictured) at Dachau concentration camp in Germany

Ms Plewman parachuted out of a Handley Page Halifax aircraft into the Jura region of France from an altitude of just over 1,000 feet. After landing she found out her support network had been captured by police and then made her own way to Marseille

The special agent was transferred to Dachau concentration camp (exterior of camp pictured) in Bavaria, Germany, before her death

Following the special agent's a capture by German forces, a report was sent in an effort to find Ms Plewman. Her cover was blown and she was captured by the Gestapo when the secret network she had been working in was infiltrated

After the war, Ruppert was tried for war crimes and convicted and executed by hanging on May 29, 1946.

The derailment of the Toulon train

Eliane Plewman along with fellow saboteurs linked to the Monk network was able to execute a derailment inside the railway tunnel between Cassis and Aubagne on the Marseille-Toulon line.

The agents planted bombs underneath the line and put 30 trains out of service.

They were also able to blow up a repair train that was sent to the region to help to clear the lines.

The mission hampered the enemy's attempts to move troops and supplies by rail.

It also stopped all traffic on the line for four days.

Speaking of Ms Plewman's bravery, Major General Colin Gubbins, head of the SOE at the time, said: 'She was dropped in the Jura and was separated from her circuit for some time.

'Instead of remaining in hiding she showed outstanding initiative and made several contacts on her own which were later of great value to her circuit.

'For six months Plewman worked as a courier and her untiring devotion to duty and willingness to undergo any risk largely contributed to the successful establishment of her circuit.

'She travelled constantly maintaining liaison between the various groups, acting as guide to newly arriving agents and transporting wireless telegraphy equipment and compromising documents.'

The heroism of Ms Plewman and her other SOE female operatives will now be celebrated in historian Kate Vigurs' new book, Mission France: The True Story of the Women of the SOE.

Of these women, 16 were captured, with 13 of them executed.

Dr Vigurs said she had pored over Ms Plewman's personnel file in the National Archives and also visited Marseille, where she was operating, several times to learn more about her.

Dr Vigurs said: 'This book has attempted to tell the true story of all the women agents, those who have become household names and national heroines as well as those who have remained in the shadows.

'All the women who were infiltrated into France by F Section were extraordinary. Notably Eliane Plewman, whose untiring devotion to duty and willingness to undergo any risk largely contributed to the successful establishment of her network and sabotage on a huge scale.

'This book has tried to ensure that their stories have been told and that they have been given the recognition they deserve.'

Ms Plewman was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct.

After the war, the SOE was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946. A memorial to SOE's agents was unveiled on the Albert Embankment by Lambeth Palace in London in October 2009.

  • Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE, by Kate Vigurs, is published by Yale University Press and costs £20.

What was the Special Operations Executive? The resistance group ordered by Winston Churchill to 'set Europe ablaze'

The Special Operations Executive (SOE), who formed on July 22 1940, were famously ordered by Sir Winston Churchill to 'set Europe ablaze'

Most of the sneaky espionage tactics used to outwit Britain's opponents were devised by a division known as the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

F ormed on July 22 1940 by Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton following cabinet approval, the SOE was largely kept top-secret and was also known as The Baker Street Irregulars, because of the location of its London office, and Churchill's secret army.

The SOE operated in every nation in Europe and south-east Asia that was under the rule of an Axis power.

The primary mission of the SOE was to aid resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe by any means possible.

This would include sabotage, subversion and even assassination behind enemy lines.

They had an influential supporter in Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who famously ordered them to 'set Europe ablaze'.

The SOE was made up of a number of independent resistance groups established in France.

As well as the quirky inventions it came up with, the unit was also responsible for other key, more conventional items that were commonly used in the war.

O ne of these was a time pencil, which was a timer that allowed troops to detonate a bomb with a controlled delay to allow them to clear the area - timings typically ranged from 10 minutes to 24 hours.

T he SOE commissioned several types of silent pistol, such as the Welrod, which were key for agents trying to keep a low profile.

T hey also produced two submarines, the Welman and Sleeping Beauty, to place charges on U-boats, but neither were successful.

A fter the war, the organisation was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946. A memorial to SOE's agents was unveiled on the Albert Embankment by Lambeth Palace in London in October 2009.

Also among the SOE female agents who were captured by the German forces was Noor Inayat Khan who was tortured and executed at Dachau concentration camp.


Dachau & Dachau District

With the concentration camp memorial, the city of Dachau is the central European city of learning and remembrance, attracting more than 900,000 people each year from all over the world who are interested in contemporary history. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Dachau was one of the most important European artist enclaves. In addition to many well-known painters of outdoor painting, the landscape painter Christian Morgenstern and the expressionist Emil Nolde came here and took advantage of the special lighting conditions of the Dachau marshes for their works. Even today, the city is an important cultural location. In the surrounding district &ndash the Dachauer Land &ndash numerous natural and artistic monuments await discovery. Intensive preservation of the local area enables the visitors to experience the old Bavarian tradition and culture authentically.

Our excursion tips:

Culture and view into the past

Many works by residents of the former artists&rsquo enclave are part of the permanent exhibition of the Dachau Picture Gallery, which also features regular special exhibitions. The New Gallery, dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, is easily accessible and offers special offers and guided tours for people with disabilities.

A secret tip is the Wittelsbach summer residence of Dachau Palace, which is located on a hill above the historic old town. From the terrace of the Schlosscafé, there is a unique view over the state capital of Munich, partly up to the Upper Bavarian Alps.

Contemporary history and retrospective

The concentration camp memorial is a place of remembrance and learning, which keeps alive the memory of events in exhibitions and numerous educational programmes. A tour brochure in easy-to-understand language and an app in German sign language is offered.

In a unique permanent exhibition, the Augustine Monks Museum in Markt Indersdorf takes on the religious history and the cultural and scientific achievements of the Augustine monks.

Nature and leisure

In Dachau, an electric scooter can be borrowed free of charge on a daily basis. This gives everyone the opportunity to go on excursions into the diverse nature of the Dachau region.

Along the course of Maisach leads the approximately two-and-a-half-kilometre-long path, the &ldquoMaisach Lifeline&rdquo. Whether with a walking frame, wheelchair or pushchair &ndash the path makes the shores of this natural space between Bergkirchen and Günding accessible to everyone for relaxation. The flora and fauna, eleven information boards and several adventure stations provide plenty of variety.


‘Take a deep breath. It strengthens the lungs.’

Nestled against the side of a wooded slope, the camp at Belzec consisted of SS barracks, a small railway station and a series of compact buildings. As Gerstein watched, the latest transport of Europe’s Jews chugged to a stop. The camp commandant, Christian Wirth, a senior policeman who had put Hitler’s euthanasia program into such deadly practice, stood there to meet it.

Wirth was anxious, as he had a point to prove: He believed the fumes from the gasoline engine they had attached to the death chambers could kill more efficiently than Zyklon B, and he didn’t want to be shown to be wrong in front of the expert from Berlin.

The first part of the deadly ritual went according to Wirth’s plan: Hundreds of men, women and children were hurried out of the train and propelled by whips and shouts across the rough ground.

A loudspeaker told them that before they could be put to work they would have to take a shower.

The women and girls, taken first, were sent running through a channel between barbed wire to the Bade und Inhalationsräume, the bathing and inhalation rooms, where a fat SS man with a kindly face told them not to worry. 𠇊ll you have to do is take a deep breath. It strengthens the lungs𠅊 precaution against disease!”

As one woman of about 40 came up the steps, she turned to Gerstein and Wirth, and cursed her murderers. Wirth swung at her with his whip, and she was pushed inside.


The organisation of the collections

The Salle de la Chapelle, on the first floor of the pavilion, is now a museum room its name is the only trace of the chapel built here between 1655 and 1659 on the orders of Louis XIV.

Its display presents the history and diversity of the museum&rsquos collections, how they were formed and how they are organised within the palace. Each collection &ndash Egyptian Antiquities, Decorative Arts, Paintings, Sculptures, Islamic Art, etc. &ndash is represented by a selection of artworks.

The Salle de la Chapelle also offers one of the finest views of the Pyramid, the gardens and, in the distance the Champs Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe and the business district of La Défense.


Transforming Nottingham House

In 1689, the King and Queen commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to draw up plans, but the Queen herself, excited by the project, took charge of the project to transform this little house into a palace.

Enthusiastic Mary made regular visits to check on progress and to hurry the work along. While a huge workforce was labouring with the building, a team of designers were already preparing decorative schemes for the new rooms.

However, Mary’s urging on the workmen had disastrous consequences. In November 1689 part of a newly-built wall collapsed. One man was killed and others badly injured. It happened minutes after the Queen had toured the site. A shaken Mary wrote to her husband of the incident: ‘It shewed me the hand of God plainly in it, and I was truly humbled'.

Despite the setback, the palace was soon finished, and the King and Queen moved in on Christmas Eve 1689.

The party palace

William and Mary began an era of magnificent balls in a golden three-year period, beginning in 1691. They used their new ornate rooms, elegant staircases and impressive halls to great effect. Guests ate, drank, gambled and flirted until dawn.

Once or twice a week the King and Queen held Drawing Rooms, where they mingled with distinguished visitors such as ambassadors or foreign princes.

Image: The Drawing Room was the focal point of court life where the king would meet members of the court, dressed in their finery.


Dachau Palace - History

Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe in 1911. Courtesy/Jesse Nusbaum

Filled with more than 400 years of antiquity and culture, the New Mexico History Museum (NMHM) announces the opening of ‘Palace Seen and Unseen: A Convergence of History and Archaeology.’

Set to debut June 26, this new exhibition explores the Palace of the Governors as a public building and a storied place.

Reflecting current archaeological and historical perspectives, “Palace Seen and Unseen” draws from historic documents, photographs, and archaeological and architectural studies produced by its former residents, visitors, stewards, and scholars. When the dynamic expertise of historians and archaeologists converges, a richer story and better understanding emerges.

It is this integrative approach to what is seen and unseen that guides the themes explored by this exhibition. There is no better place for this to happen than at the Palace of the Governors.

Guest curators Cordelia (Dedie) Snow and Stephen (Steve) Post have nearly 50 years of combined experience with Palace architecture, history, and archaeology. Their firsthand experience excavating within the Palace walls and on its grounds provides a unique, expert perspective that visitors will appreciate.

“The Palace’s adobe architecture provides us with a unique backdrop to tell its 400-year story through the words, images, and objects of its many residents and visitors,” explain Snow and Post. “Just when you think you might be getting a handle on the archaeology or history of the Palace, something new crops up. Just as the puzzle always seems to be missing pieces, it grows even larger.”

All the archaeological objects selected were excavated by either Snow or Post and were dug up from Palace floors or the former Armory grounds – where the NMHM Domenici Building now stands.

“Palace Seen and Unseen” was originally scheduled to open in 2020. The exhibition will be on long-term view.

About the New Mexico History Museum
The New Mexico History Museum is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs , under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its generous donors. NMHM is a statewide educational resource, landmark, and destination for everyone who wants to understand the diverse experiences of the people of New Mexico, the dynamics that have shaped our state, and the relationships that connect our region with the rest of the world.


Munich Sights

Munich is a wealthy city—and it shows. At times this affluence may come across as conservatism. But what makes Munich so unique is that it's a new city superimposed on the old. The hip neighborhoods that make up the City Center (Innenstadt) are replete with traditional locales, and flashy materialism thrives together with a love of the outdoors.

Recommended Fodor&rsquos Video

  • Altstadt
  • Outside Innenstadt
  • Schwabing and Maxvorstadt
  • Maxvorstadt
  • Landshut All Filters
  • Altstadt
  • Outside Innenstadt
  • Schwabing and Maxvorstadt
  • Maxvorstadt
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