Day 8: Dachau

Today was a moving and important day in Germany.  We went to visit the former concentration camp Dachau, and learn more about Germany’s view on the war and its effects.  Upon arrival we were greeted by an enthralling tour guide who was really great at giving his own viewpoint, as well as explaining the details and what he called hidden information about the former camp.  First he showed us the wide open area where prisoners were made to stand, the barracks where people were kept, as well as the main administration building and some of its rooms.  In front of the main building there is a sculpture by Nandor Glid which memorializes those that, in desperation, committed suicide by running into the electric fence.  We then walked along the foundations of the barracks, and he showed us the memorials and churches set up after the war.  Behind those memorials we found the mass graves, an execution wall, and a crematorium. There was also a building that held gas chambers and a crematorium.  Although this was never used to perform mass execution in Dachau, it was used in this way in other camps on a larger scale.

It was really hard to view, and it’s pretty hard to write this blog post about it too.  When you learn about concentration camps at school in America it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of the victims or the truly horrible experience they went through.  Seeing it in person made me understand those things, and really think about them, and it was a somber and humbling experience.

At the end of the tour, our guide thanked us for coming, pointing out that truly understanding history is the only way to prevent it from happening again. So, despite how difficult it was to witness the place where such atrocities happened, I am glad we went and could begin to understand, and help prevent anything like this from happening in our future.

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