Situated northwest of Munich in Germany and the first concentration camp opened by the Nazis is Dachau concentration camp.
Visiting any place like this was always important to me personally as growing up I was always fascinated by WW2 and learnt a whole lot about it. I knew by actually seeing one of the camps would put a whole lot of reading into perspective for me and oh boy it did.
First thing I would like to say is that everything I am writing is my own personal beliefs/experiences and opinions and that I have tossed up a lot about writing it. I haven’t spoken to many people about it and so I thought this could be my way of doing so.
My first sort of feeling walking in was not a nice one. Seeing the gate with the writing “Arbeit macht frei” (“work makes you free”) and then seeing people taking selfies with it shocked me. I personally took no photos because that is what I deemed respectful and definitely did not think selfies were appropriate at such a place but that is a whole other conversation that I don’t need to go into. Walking through a gate, williningly, that so many others died behind and never got to walk through gave me so much appreciation for my life.
Walking around you get a sense of what happened there and the people that have looked after it over the years have done a good job at keeping the place real. Even the memorials are so well done. There is one large sculpture which is an abstract piece that depicts the piles of bodies and honestly when you see the photos taken by the Americans that liberated the camp it is such a true representation.
Seeing how the Nazis took a camp that was initially meant to only hold 5000 prisoners into a camp that held thousands and thousands through the bunkers was an eye opening experience. One can only imagine how they managed to keep making it worse and how anyone managed to sleep.
Probably the bit that got me the most was how they would hang people right in front of the crematorium and the fact that by the time the camp was liberated the crematorium couldn’t keep up and so there were thousands of bodies left.
Another aspect that I found difficult to get my head around was how close the camp was to where people lived. There is no way people in the area did not know what was happening with reported deaths alone over 30,000 people. I feel that is a lot to turn a blind eye to.
There is a gas chamber at Dachau however, it is said it wasn’t used or at least not used for mass murder. Instead it is thought only a few people were actually murdered in this way. Although you do have to ask yourself why it was built if it was never used. One theory is that it was used to train the Nazis. Keeping in mind that Dachau wasn’t an extermination camp instead it was a camp that worked people to their death most of which were men.
I think visiting Dachau now with where I am at in my life gave me so much appreciation for what I have and how lucky I am to live where and how I do. It is so important to visit these places and educate people to prevent these events reoccurring. We all need to make an effort to be better people and it has definitely taught me to stand up for what I believe is right no matter what the consequences.
Thanks for reading. Please remember I am no expert.
Love Cait xx