The First Camp (May 13)

Today was a very different day because our sightseeing wasn’t of the jolly sort. We left the hotel around 9:00 to go visit Dachau, the first concentration camp ever built. Dr. Feick booked with a specific tour guide because he knew one guide in particular who was fantastic. I’m glad he did that because it made the experience even more meaningful. The first major surprise I had was the green area. The trees and bushes around the camp were very pretty, in a way masking the dark history. I also noticed how different it feels to actually be there. It’s one thing to learn about this kind of place in a history book, but it’s an entirely different animal to walk through a gas chamber (albeit unused on prisoners). I think the most disturbing part of the day was realizing that all the horrible truths we were told today represented “Concentration Camp Lite,” as Dachau had one of the better survival rates and lower body counts of the concentration camp system. Still, 43,000 people died at Dachau over the course of its ~12-year existence.

YoungJ25
Crematorium

I was a little disappointed when we left Dachau because I realized a very startling fact: We could go through the gate with ease, spend some time walking around and learning about the events that happened there during World War II. Then, when we wanted to leave, we could walk right back through the gate with the same ease. As soon as we were uncomfortable or didn’t want to be there, that option was open to us. I felt almost as if we were disrespecting the former inmates of the camp. For the hundreds of thousands of inmates that flowed through that gate, this was not anywhere near the case. Those gates that promised “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) were anything but the truth.

YoungJ26
Original Gate

We had some bread on the bus before coming back to Augsburg, and the rest of the day was ours. The WiFi was not kind to me this afternoon, and I got pretty frustrated when Kayla’s and my plan to work on the company analysis was foiled. Instead, I decided to work on my blog to keep myself caught up. Later in the evening, a few of us went to the pool hall to relax, and I used it as an opportunity to release my frustration from the WiFi situation.

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