Dachau Concentration Camp
Trip Start Apr 20, 2011
44Trip End Jul 21, 2011
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Dachau is just on the outskirts of Munich, about a 20 minute drive. We wanted to get there early to avoid the crowds and tour buses, but after drinking a few of those one liter beers the night before we needed to stop for breakfast and reset before we continued to Dachau. The camp was the first of its kind, built in the 1930s and was used as a model for numerous other concentration camps across Germany and Poland. This was not an extermination camp, but needless to say many people died here and it could definitely be considered a death camp. Dachau was built to hold roughly 5,000 prisoners but in the middle and towards the end of the war it housed around 30,000
On the ride up there I saw a few lilac bushes which once again reminded me of my Bubby. It’s funny how, at random times throughout this trip they pop up out of nowhere. They are not too common here in Europe, but they do sporadically appear. Sometimes when I’m stressed out about the driving, or when we are looking for a spot to “illegally” camp, or when we are coming up to a scary place like Dachau or Terezin, I come across them and they calm me down. They remind me that she is here with me and always watching over me.
We overshot the parking lot to the camp, and after passing a little forest a huge structure emerged we realized we were driving beside the outer wall of Dachau. The road passes right by the camp… we were both silent. Lilly then commented, “imagine passing by this every day?” No, I can’t imagine seeing this cold grey structure with its dark towers spouting above the wall that used to house SS guards with the ability to shoot to kill anybody at their own discretion, bearing down on me as I drive to work. Knowing full well what kind of horror and death that has gone on behind those walls, I sure wouldn’t be able to but I guess the locals just get used to it and learn to deal with it. We circled back and passed it again, the same emotions and thoughts passed through my head; by the time we got to the parking it was already crowded with tourists.
It was 11:10am when we got to the museum office and we were informed that an English tour had just left and the next one was at 2:00pm our only other option was the audio guide
There were two reconstructed barracks, and then 30 lines of barracks with only the foundation to mark off where they were. Then, the crematoriums at the far back on the left, the bigger of the two was built because there were too many bodies for the first one could handle. There were also gas chambers, but apparently there is no evidence that they were used here (this does not mean that they were not). One thing that neither Lilly nor I knew was apparently there was one barrack in the back that was used as a brothel to increase “productivity” in the workers. They brought in women from Ravensbruck concentration camp and forced them to serve in this brothel. Also all the work that was done in the camp was very degrading to the prisoners. For example, they used machinery but took out all the mechanical parts and made the prisoners work them only with man power.
Many of the pictures you see from Dachau were from when it was liberated by the U.S in 1945
All in all, it was a very intense experience. After we left, Lilly and I discussed what we thought was most powerful about the whole visit. We both agreed it was the initial feelings we were struck with when we first walked in. Oddly enough after you learn about the camp and see what has happened here you kind of 'get used to it’, the feeling becomes less intense though one would think it would be the other way around.
That’s all for now,