What struck me the most about Dachau was the dichotomy of the somber emptiness of a concentration camp, and the uncaring aspect of nature that surrounded it. With all the death, disease, torture, and all around unspeakable things that occurred at this concentration camp, the birds still sang. The flowers surrounding the perimeter still bloomed. The trees and the grass never stopped growing. Even when we went to the spots of the ash graves and a nearby execution site, there were animals scurrying around, completely unaware of the events that occurred here 73 years ago. Part of me was disgusted by it. Why is it that nature can look so beautiful, yet forge people to act so cruel at the same time?
The other side of me tried to see the bigger picture: life goes on.
However, life can continue in a way that we, as the youth of the world, choose to make it. Seeing how such a simple, twisted ideology can corrupt entire scores of people and kill scores more shows how much influence an idea has. Some ideas are wicked; not all of them have to be. Allowing ourselves to learn from the terrible events that occurred not only at Dachau, but also at the other camps, can help the world not make these same mistakes again, or help prevent other people from making these mistakes. So far, I do not believe we are even close to a point where events like the Holocaust can never happen again. Hitler was influential not because he spread his ideology, but because his ideology was already at the forefront of the minds of millions: he just allowed them to express it without fear of judgement, and instead with thunderous applause.
Regardless of what the future holds, I absolutely feel that visiting Dachau was one of the more worthwhile experiences of this trip so far. The enthusiasm that our tour guide brought, coupled with the power of the events that took place, allowed everyone to reconsider what we have learned in various history classes and put it in perspective. And, at the end of the day, it is important to remember: we came here willingly. Others did not have that luxury.