What is the Book of Remembrance?
"The basic idea of the Book of Remembrance For Former Prisoners of The Dachau Concentration Camp is to make the names behind the numbers visible; to set a prisoner apart from the anonymous other ones and give him back his individuality", says Klaus Schultz, deacon in the Protestant Church of Reconciliation, situated on the grounds of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, and a member of the Project Partners of the Book of Remembrance.
During the years 1933-45 more than 200,000 prisoners were deported to the Dachau concentration camp. For the National Socialists this concentration camp was the model for more than 2000 other camps throughout Europe. The first prisoners were political opponents of the National Socialists: Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, some politicians of the bourgeois parties and monarchists. Later Jews, priests, "gypsies", homosexuals, the so-called "anti-socials" and criminals. During the war the majority of the prisoners came from the occupied countries. A single critical remark or the fact of belonging to a persecuted minority was sufficient to be sent to a concentration camp. To a great number of people it meant a death sentence.
Klaus Schultz and Uwe Neirich, who at that time was an educational employee of the Promoting Association for the International Youth Meeting, knew the Memorial Book at the Old Synagogue in Essen. In 1997 they considered carrying out a similar project in Dachau. In 1999 the idea could be realised thanks to a group of organisations in Dachau.
Every year on the 22nd of March, the anniversary of setting up of the Dachau concentration camp, new biographies of the Book of Remembrance are presented. They are written by former prisoners, relatives, pupils and other interested people and thereby they set up such a symbol of remembrance. At the moment the Book of Remembrance contains about 80 biographies. They are to be found in the Church of Reconciliation on the grounds of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. All the time new biographies are constantly being added to the existing ones.
Each biography of a prisoner comprises four pages. The authors choose the language in which they want to write the biography and give the pages their own personal touch. In this way the pages of the Book of Remembrance shall illustrate the wide variety of the prisoners, coming from more than 30 nations.
We wish for it to be understood that Dachau is more than just a place. Behind the high numbers of more than 200,000 prisoners and more than 32,000 dead stand individual biographies, lives together with the families of the persecuted. We want to give back the prisoners their faces, show the background of their persecution and their lives. This is the main idea of our project.