The National Socialist (Nazi) government started the first concentration camp at Dachau, Germany in March of 1933. It has been renovated and preserved as a memorial to those who suffered and died there between 1933 and the liberation in 1945. There are several tours from nearby Munich, although you can visit on your own as well using public transportation.
Yes, there are other, better-known camps--famous because Nazi atrocities had peaked when they were built--but there are a couple of reasons you should try visiting Dachau. One is that it is accessible from Munich as an easy day trip. The other is that this is where it all began as a storehouse for political prisoners; here is where you can try to understand the evolution of the idea of concentration camps and their eventual use as extermination centers.
The memorial is well documented in English and you should have no trouble understanding what went on by simply going there yourself. However, a guided tour offers you insights you may not get by just wandering through the exhibits, and the transportation aspects of getting to Dachau from Munich are easier with a tour.
Dachau is an interesting town in itself, with roots back to the 9th century. Dachau became the most famous artists’ colony in Germany in the 1870s. Don't be afraid to book a hotel there and stay a day or two. Details are found at the end of the virtual tour.
Munich Walk Tours offers a similar three hour tour of Dachau that can be combined with its Third Reich Tour for a reduced price. This is the one we took. Cost is €17 for adults, €16 for people under 26, and €9 for children under 14 with an adult. There's a €2 discount if you combine the two tours. To sign up for the tour, meet at the main entrance of the New Gothic Rathaus (town hall) directly under the Glockenspiel on Marienplatz before 1:20pm. The guide will be holding a yellow sign. For more information on these tours, you may email email@example.com.
You can book the tours above when you get to Munich if you wish. Viator also offers a small group tour to Dachau for a reasonable price.
Getting to Dachau on Your Own
To get to the Dachau Memorial on your own from the main train station, descend down to the S-Bahn platforms and board any train on the S2 line with the destination marked as Dachau or Petershausen. From Dachau station, Bus 726 or 724 will take you to the Memorial. To see the route, or to plan a route from another destination in Europe, see: Munich to Dachau; change the origin to anything you wish if you aren't traveling from Munich.
Let's take a little tour of the interior of the camp, starting with the gate and finishing at the famous, and quite controversial ovens of Dachau. Click "next" to continue.