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Wednesday, October 28, 1998 Published at 20:04 GMT


World: Europe

Dachau seeks image change

More than 30,000 prisoners were killed here

The town that shares a name with Germany's first concentration camp has begun a sensitive public relations campaign to attract more tourists.

Every year some 800,000 tourists visit the concentration camp - making it one of Germany's prime tourist attractions.


Jane Barrie: Dackau hopes PR campaign is sensitive and profitable
But few of those visitors venture the short distance from the camp to the historic town itself.

Although the town has a history stretching back more than 1,000 years, the town's name will probably always be linked to the darkest chapter in its history, and the disturbing memorial site on its outskirts.

Between 1933-45 more than 30,000 prisoners from all over Europe died in the camp, which served as a prototype for other labour camps.


[ image: Mayor wants tourists to also visit town]
Mayor wants tourists to also visit town
For decades the town of Dachau distanced itself from the camp. But the new Mayor, Kurt Piller, says it is time for tourists to see that the camp and the town belong together.

He said plans were afoot to put signs up directing tourists visiting the camp to also stop off at the town.

"We want people to get in contact with the town as well as the concentration camp," he said.

Although changing Dachau's image represents a vast challenge, public relations officials say the town has something to offer besides its horrific past.

Marketing Consultant Thomas Seibold said: "The concentration camp is a symbol of 12 years of a cruel dynasty, but Dachau has 1,200 years before this 12 years and the townspeople hope that there will be a future for Dachau in a better context."

Voices of dissent

However, there has been criticism of the campaign.

Nikolaus Lehner, a Hungarian Jew who was transported to Dachau in 1944, questions the mayor's tactics.

"I would be ashamed to expect people to come and see this wonderful city after you saw this crematory and the rest of the concentration camp and saw the museum and read the statistics," he said.



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