Dachau Concentration Camp

Trip Start Dec 17, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When we go on holiday, we typically do not plan on feeling overwhelming sadness, depression, disgust, and heartbreak. We didn't look forward to going to Dachau, but we both knew we must since it was so close to Munich.  Those feelings ended up being just a fraction of the emotions Mike and I experienced after walking through the camp.  It’s not that I expected to feel differently than I did.  I didn’t expect the visit to be an upbeat one by any means.  I suppose the intensity of those emotions is what completely astounded me.  I knew as soon as I crossed through the gates of the camp that it would be an experience I would never forget. 

I must say that the site was extraordinary: Extraordinary because of the reverence and respect given to every aspect, from the grounds, to the memorials, to the museum.  It was exceptional.  The fact that it even still exists, largely unchanged except for the prisoner barracks, is a testament to those who understand the magnitude of responsibility we all have of keeping these places from falling into distant memory. 

The weather that day was a fittingly somber forecast of clouds and bitter cold.  As I stood there in  the middle of the roll call square, it was a surreal experience.  It was impossible to imagine the thousands of men and women who once stood in the very spot that I stood for hours on end, hoping against all hope that they would  live another day.  When they arrived they walked through  the same gate I first walked through.  They shuffled through the same rooms of the Maintenance Building, now the museum, that I meandered through.  They were admitted to the camp, examined, undressed, shaved, showered, and escorted to what would be for most their last home on earth.  They did all of those things in the very same rooms that I learned their tragic stories.   Reading the accounts of the prisoners, I was truly ashamed and repulsed at mankind’s brutality but surprisingly captivated by the compassion and courageousness of so many as well. 

I don’t want to write too much, although I think I have written more than I meant to already.  There are plenty of places to find out the factual information about the camp and the photos I have attached to this post speak for themselves.  I was very reluctant to photograph at first.  It felt like I was exploiting something that was not mine to share.  However, after walking further into the camp and the emotions that came over me, I couldn’t help but think, "Everyone in the world should have to see this."   And so it was then that I picked up the camera and started shooting.  There was one place I didn’t take pictures though.  It was the last place we saw and the most gut-wrenching site of all.  It was the grave of some 30,000 men, women, and children.  It was the crematorium. 

There is nothing I can say, do, or write to explain how it felt to see Dachau.  There really are no words that could possibly do justice to the poor souls who endured the horrid purpose of the camp.  I simply hope that by sharing my experience, others may know the impact of such a place. 



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