Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Europe Adventure: Day Twenty-four- Dachau Concentration Camp

Thursday, April 28, 2016 was a bittersweet day. It was not only our last day in Europe but also the day we would visit a concentration camp. 
We woke up at 6am and got ready followed by having breakfast in our hotel. 

After breakfast we checked out of our hotel and loaded the car with all of our things. 
Then we drove to Dachau. 
We didn't have a ton of time to spend here so we decided to skip the movies and indoor exhibits and just see the concentration camp itself. 
 We parked and then walked into the camp. 

There were quite a few people there and a lot of them were school groups. This was slightly frustrating because a lot of the kids (and even adults) were loud and boisterous and it felt so wrong to be that way here. 

After Adolf Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, on March 22, 1933 a concentration camp for political prisoners was set up in Dachau. 
This camp was a model for later concentration camps and was used as a "school of violence" for the SS men who commanded it. 
It was run for twelve years in which over 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned. 41,500 were murdered. On April 29, 1945 American troops liberated the survivors. 
The Memorial site is on the grounds of the former concentration camp and was established in 1965.

It is really hard to describe how it felt to be here. 
It was an experience I won't forget. I am so glad we went. 
There was almost a reverence mixed with an eerie feeling. 


Translation of stone:

Remember how we died here" 

This statue below is known as the "Unknown Inmate" by Fritz Koelle. It was erected in 1950. 
The words translate to mean "To honor the death, to admonish the living"

This is a picture of the ovens in the crematorium. 
There was a sign that said that the prisoners were hung from the hooks on the rafters before being put in.

"Here in Dachau on the 12th of September 1944
four young Woman Officers of the British Forces attached to Special Operations were 
brutally murdered and their bodies cremated. They died as gallantly as they had served the Resistance in France during the common struggle for freedom from tyranny."

The gas chambers:

"The internees who were brought to Camp Dachau for the sole purpose of being executed were in most cases Jews and Russians. They were brought to the compound, lined up near the gas chambers, and were screened in a similar manner as internees who came to Dachau for imprisonment. Then they were marched to a room and told to undress. Everyone was given a towel and a piece of soap, as though they were about to take a shower. During this whole screening process, no hint was ever given that they were to be executed, for the routine was similar upon arrival of all internees in the camp." Quoted from The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army, released only days after the camp was liberated.

Entrance door: Brausebad translates to shower bath.
You can see that the inside of the door has no handle.

The "old" crematorium

There was a little garden walk after we left these buildings. 
This was the Jewish memorial along the walk. It is one of the mass graves.

"Do not forget"

Along the walk, which seemed so pretty and peaceful, you are reminded of the gravity of the place you are in as you see the signs for execution spots and firing ranges as well as more mass graves.

The ashes of thousands of unknown prisoners are buried in this third mass grave.

The fourth mass grave. 
I cannot describe the heartbreak as you stand at these spots and wonder about those buried in these areas. 

These raised areas are there to show where the many barracks were and their size. 

This is the camp road. 
It goes down between the two rows of barracks. 
The trees, as I understand it, were either planted by the prisoners or are a representation of trees that had been planted by prisoners.

Roll Call Area with exhibit

The main gate

The famous wording on the gate translates to "Work makes free".

As we were leaving I took a photo of this tree that was beautiful and in bloom on the grounds. 
I don't know why but in that moment it felt important to grab a piece of the beauty of the world. 

While this was an incredibly difficult place to visit and I have actually been quite emotional as I have been writing this post, I would definitely recommend a visit to Dachau. It is haunting but it is so important that we remember what happened and that we remember those that died here.

1 comment:

The Kings said...

I am so glad we went there! We needed to see it and to remember! Amen to what you wrote!! It was one of those hallowed places where you can feel the "cost" of the deeds of horrible people and their hate and cruelty to others.