Dachau Concentration Camp

Having both read biographies and historical recounts about the Holocaust and life in the concentration camps, we wanted to see a camp in person. It was a chance to put together some facts and details and attempt comprehension. Initially we had wanted to see Auschwitz but since it is actually in Poland (not Germany as we initially assumed), this was the next best option.

We spent a few hours reflecting on the atrocities committed at camps like this, and the sheer scale of it all.

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This was the first concentration camp built and the only one which remained during the entire Nazi regime (12 years). It was a prison to 200,000 people and where 40,000 were murdered. This is but a small fraction of the victims who were held in concentration camps or who died as a result of this during the second world war. The survivors of the Dachau camp were liberated by American troops in April, 1945.

 

The first thing we did was go into the museum where there was a comprehensive collection of artifacts, images and information. Some things were ones we’d seen in Berlin, and many images were horrible and graphic. After an hour it was too much to take in, we felt fatigued and “numb.”

So we left the confines of the museum (the building prisoners were first brought to for processing) and walked the grounds.

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It was chilling and strange, but the feeling of comprehension never came.

Perhaps it was the dozens of school groups being marched around, spoken at (while most students barely listened) and walked through the gas chamber like it was just another thing to tick off.

Or maybe it was the information overload, the exposure to numerous Jewish memorial sites before this one and the bright, sunny day.
Whatever it was, our minds and feelings seemed disconnected.

Note: there are images below that may be confronting.

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Crematorium flanked by “body storage rooms”

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The Gas chamber

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Barracks – the only one left standing

 

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3 thoughts on “Dachau Concentration Camp

    1. We tend to agree. What we found however was that it was an overload issue. When we first visited some of the memorials in Berlin the graphic detail and personal stories are incredibly moving and shocking. Once we had read the 50th individual story it became repetitive and less shocking. But I still agree that dissociation is a common protective mechanism. In some ways I think if we only heard a few stories we would have taken away a stronger or clearer message.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We went there, as well. It was bloodily cold there were no more than 10 tourists visiting at the time. We got there by car and drove past beautiful scenery and a small village. I wondered if the village people really didn’t know about what was going on. They sure saw many people arriving there and never getting out of it.
    I remember the slope the prisoners had to climb upon just for the fun of the guards watching them dying for being starved and overworked.
    It was a very hard day to remember but it is important to go there and seize the atmosphere, feel the cold even wearing a heavy down and mountain gears and thinking about the thousands of people who spent their days or years there with just a thin pair of trousers and a light blouse.
    Really horrifying to think about what so many humans were able to perpetrate against much more humans. I was appalled to see how they labeled each of them for their political belief, religion or ethnicity, and I am appalled when I read/hear similar things even in 2015! Have we already forgot what history just taught us?!

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