Day 8: Dachau Concentration Camp

Today was the day that we would be visiting a concentration camp. Although I knew it would be an emotionally hard day I was still interested in attending as I had visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. with my school both last year and the year before, and I was interested in seeing in person what I had only seen in photos before.

Upon arriving at the concentration camp, I was immediately struck by how real it was. In pictures you can only imagine what one looks like but seeing one in front of me is when it really hit me about what happened here. Another thing that struck me was the layout of the area. The area of the camp was very large much larger than I expected and I couldn’t even imagine what walking back and forth carrying food had to have been like daily for the people kept here. I also noticed how there was no shade in the camp at all and that the only source of shade was a row of trees down the center of the camp. It was a very hot day today so I was already sweating and I also couldn’t even imagine what it had to be like for those that were kept here who had to walk through the blazing heat daily with no source of shade.

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Once inside the camp we began to receive information from a tour guide on the camp and what exactly happened here. I already knew a lot of general information on the Holocaust previously as I had visited the museum twice before in Washington D.C., but the tour guide was very helpful and taught me a lot of more information that I found very interesting. One of the things I always wondered was how various people were kept in the camps that were there for different reasons, as I knew that not only Jewish but also gypsies, homosexuals, and Jehovah Witnesses were also kept in concentration camps. The tour guide answered my question by explaining how the Germany system was very organized and they created symbols worn by each person to depict what they were. Another piece of information I learned that I found very interesting was that after the liberation of the camps Nazi soldiers were kept in the camps while waiting for their trials against them for the acts they committed during World War II. I found this ironic that these soldiers were being kept in the camps which were the reason they were on trial in the first place.

After being provided more brief information on this history of the camps we headed towards the gas chamber that was located in Dachau. Inside I took a few pictures as I could not believe what was in front of me and it didn’t hit me until I was actually in the gas chamber how emotionally impactful just standing there would be. I could only stand in the room for a few seconds as being in there was very hard, it was very dark inside with no windows and it was hard to imagine how a group of people could have created a place for such an awful purpose.  Although the building left me hurt and angry I was thankful to have got to experience first hand what this part of the camp was like.

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Once leaving the gas chamber we heading back to the main part of the camp and into the museum where we were given time to walk around. During this time to walk around I headed back to the front of the camp where there was the gate that says “Arbeit Macht Frei”, or “Work Sets You Free”. I wanted to get a picture of this gate because I distinctly remember having the same picture of a gate exactly like this shown in the Holocaust Museum in D.C. and once again I was hit by the fact that for the first time I was seeing a place like this not through picture but first hand.

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After continuing to walk around for a bit we eventually left the camp and headed back to Augsburg where we had free time. A group of us headed back to an Italian restaurant where I got a chicken Caesar salad and bread to eat. After eating dinner, I headed back to the hotel where I worked all night on my part of the presentation of Continental. Sadly, throughout the trip Wi-Fi would not work on my laptop so I completed all research on my phone and finished the presentation on my laptop. Once finishing my part, I then attempted to pack my souvenirs in my luggage for a bit, only to fail at getting everything to fit, so instead I threw everything on the floor and headed to bed.

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