On the community of Dachau internees of Slovenia and on the Dachau Concentration camp
The Community of Dachau Internees of Slovenia (CDIS) is an association of former Slovenian internees of the Dachau concentration camp, and their descendants. The CDIS was founded in 1991 on the initiative of several Dachau survivors. Although former internees had been informally meeting before this, it was only then that their union was formalised. Apart from organising meetings of its own members, the CDIS cooperates with other organisations of internees in Slovenia. The association began publishing the periodical the Dachau Reporter, also in memory of the well-known Dachau Reporter issued by Slovenian internees in the Dachau camp after the liberation in May 1945. Past presidents of the CDIS are Risto Gajšek (1991–2004), Hardvik Pirnovar (2004–2006) and Professor Andrej Ule (2006–2012), the son-in-law of former internee Jože Nastran. Since December 2012, its president has been Vesna Dobre, the daughter-in-law of former internee Janko Dobre. The CDIS is also a member of the International Dachau Committee which connects organisations of former internees from various European countries from which the internees came. The Committee's Governing Board member from Slovenia is Professor Andrej Ule.
Presently, the CDIS has around 200 members, including about 20 former internees. The rest are their descendants and supporters of the movement to preserve the memory of the tragic story of the Second World War. We, members of the CDIS, feel committed to cherish the memory of victims of the Dachau camp, of the suffering of the internees, their extreme courage, solidarity and mutual help. It is no coincidence that survivors of the Dachau camp are also internationally very well organised and take good care of the preservation of its memory.
Founded in March 1933, the Dachau camp was the very first concentration camp in Europe to be established for the mass destruction of opponents of the totalitarian regime. The first to be interned in it were German opponents of Nazism, followed by all the Nazi ideology had designated for extermination. The first nations condemned to genocide were: Jews, Roma and Sinti, followed by deportees and suspects from all occupied countries along with all kinds of »anti-social« elements condemned by the canon of the Nazi social doctrine. It was in the Dachau camp that the Nazis developed various methods of humiliation, torture and destruction of their victims, which they then used and further »elaborated« in their other camps. In these terms, the Dachau camp served as a training centre and a perverse laboratory of casemate »practices«, including deadly pseudo-medical experiments on internees which were initiated in Dachau and then extended to other camps. It was in Dachau that the first crematorium was lit, which operated right up until the liberation of Dachau in May 1945.
This explains why for both the Nazis and their victims the Dachau camp represented the core of terror and a symbol of evil, with the distinct difference between them: while the Nazis were committed to this evil and followed it faithfully, their victims were resisting it and trying to overcome it with limitless courage, unbending rebelliousness, and great solidarity among the fellow sufferers. What was going on in Dachau was a battle fully comparable to the biggest military combats of the Second World War. The outcome of this combat was also important and grand. Despite their physical exhaustion, their unthinkable torturing and humiliation, the prisoners in Dachau defeated the Nazis morally and in spirit. The Nazis were never able to prevent underground resistance, and even less the mutual solidarity and help among the internees which relied on countless purely personal, and usually highly risky, acts of individuals. The well-organised underground internees' resistance thwarted the Nazis' intention to kill all the remaining internees before the arrival of the Allies in order to cover over the traces of their atrocities.
As is well known, for a long time after the war had ended, after the Dachau camp had been liberated and after they had returned home many Slovenian Dachau survivors, particularly those making up the backbone of the resistance against Nazism, were subjected to suspicion, persecution, fabricated court trials and heavy sentences in Slovenia. Probably, they were an overwhelming reminder and a warning to those then in power of how they treated their own political prisoners. That is why they wanted to take revenge against the Dachau survivors with so many plots and intrigues, and treated them with such brutality.
Due to all this, we, their descendants, consider it extremely important to maintain the continuity of the memory of the Dachau camp, and involve new generations of people who are highly affected by this memory and aware of the importance of transmitting the memory of the camp and what it represents to younger generations. This memory and this experience are worthy of support and should be kept alive today. Sad to say, the mentality that brought about the Dachau and similar camps has not yet been overcome, and the fight against it remains one of the biggest tasks of those who currently remember Dachau, and those who will remember it in the future.