Europe 2001: Dachau Concentration Camp

by - 1/20/2017

Before we got to our hotel in Rothenburg, we stopped at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Most people probably think of Auschwitz when they think of concentration camps, so here's a brief history of Dachau: 

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first camp opened in Germany in 1933 and was in operation until its liberation in 1945. It was intended for political prisoners, but it came to also hold criminals, Jews, foreign prisoners of occupied countries, and even clergy. In that timespan, there were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, with thousands more undocumented. At the time of liberation, it held 30,000 prisoners. 

With that being said, I think we all knew it was going to be a very sobering experience, but besides that, it also felt uncomfortable. I can't explain it. It's not that I was uncomfortable because of what the site once was, it was more like...I think I was made very aware of how different I looked compared to everyone else (being Asian), and that hyperawareness made me feel slightly paranoid. 

Anyway, there was a building that had an exhibition, and you were free to walk the grounds. There were many memorials along the way, and replicas of barracks, and even actual ovens that they used to cremate bodies. 

This is a sculpture by Nandor Glid that stands in front of the museum. In the distance, you can see a reconstructed barrack. From the official Dachau Concentration Camp website: ..."fence posts, ditches and barbed wire are reminiscent of the security facilities installed around the camp. The human skeleton commemorates those, who in an act of desperation, jumped into the barbed wire fence." 

This the location of a mass grave that is thought to hold the remains of over 100 prisoners that were executed. 

Memorial of The Unknown Prisoner by Fritz Koelle. The pedestal has the inscription "To honor the death, to warn the living".

Monument to Jewish Victims

This is the building that held the crematorium and gas chambers.
Actual ovens used for cremation

One of two reconstructed barracks. You can see the areas with gravel that were the locations of other barracks. 

Inside the barracks, reconstruction of how the prisoners were housed.
Guard tower

I think this was taken outside of the Catholic Church of the Mortal Agony of Christ. There is no cross atop the church; instead it has a crown a thorns.

This was inside the Jewish memorial.
More plots where barracks used to be

That was basically my tour of the camp. It was a sobering experience, and I don't know if I'd ever go back there. I don't know how there are people that don't believe any of this happened. That blows my mind. If you have the opportunity, you should go visit. It's a very important reminder that humans have the capacity to be incredibly cruel and inhumane, but also have the will to overcome.

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