Today was an emotional but necessary day: we visited Dachau. As most people know, Dachau was a concentration camp during WWII. Going into it, I was a little bit skeptical and didn’t really want to go. I wanted to shy away from the events that will forever taint Germany. Although this was definitely the most difficult site visit on the program, I found it to be one of the most important.
Upon arrival, we met our tour guide, who I believe was one of if not the best guide we had during the whole trip. He gave us a little bit of history, but after that, he mainly focused on the information that could not be found easily. Things like what tags people wore, the strategic positioning of inmates to make them suffer, and even the fact that escaping Dachau did not mean survival really put the entire group in a solemn mood. The information and the manner that the guide presented it really got me. Further, walking in areas first-hand where people suffered and died filled me with emotions. I was astonished and deeply saddened when I learned of all the cruel punishments such as walking hundreds of meters in snow to get food, being held in pure darkness for months, or even just cramming people into barracks 3x over the capacity. I experienced feelings I have never felt before. It is very hard to describe, but they best way I can characterize it is a mix between remorse and sadness.
Despite all these negative emotions, I found this visit to be very significant, and I’m glad I went. For one, I probably obtained the most information here than any other site visit. Secondly, I learned that just because it was a brutal point in history doesn’t mean we should ignore it; we should learn from it, so it never happens again. From this visit, I feel that I am a stronger and better educated person that I was before.