May 12th: Dachau

Of course I started today the way I start every day. Except today, something felt off. The breakfast conversation that typically recaps fun memories from the day before had a somber tone. We filed onto the bus and began mentally preparing for the day ahead. We were headed to Dachau, a concentration camp opened in 1933 and used for the following twelve years. The sky was grey without a single ray of sun. The air was frigid and a light drizzle was persistent as the day progressed. It was the perfect setting for the story we were about to hear. We first arrived at a visitor center and met with our tour guide. We then made our way down a gravel path to the gate that many would enter and few would leave the same. On this gate, the words, “Work Sets You Free” are written; this is only another lie told by the people responsible for this tragedy. We made our way to a memorial to the people that died there. What I found most interesting is that there are still a few survivors from when the camp was liberated in 1945 and they even continued coming back to pay tribute. The first building we entered was the prisoner registration. Here, I found sorrow in the items that were taken from the prisoners and never reclaimed. There were passports, watches, and family photos, all things that I’m sure had sentimental value to each individual. We continued to see the showering quarters and places used to punish prisoners in cruel and unimaginable ways. Seeing the living quarters of the prisoners was another painful sight to see. As the camp continually grew in number, people were thrown into pre-occupied beds and crammed into quarters past comfortable capacity. Towards the end, some areas would have four people sleeping in a single bed. Moving on in the tour, we passed rows and rows of what used to be more living quarters. I had never realized how many people were in this camp until seeing the number of people living in one building and how may there were. We arrived at our final stop, the crematorium. This is where the bodies of those who killed were burned to ash and disposed of and this is where the harshest reality hit. I understood the suffering that had occurred. When learning about these places in school, it can only hit so hard. The thoughts that would come to me are, “Oh it’s a place far away. It’s all in the past.” However, being inside the fence gives a chance to walk the same paths they walked and begin to see. When I entered the gates in the morning, I knew what would be inside, but I when I walked out, I understood.

Highlight of the Day: Non-Applicable

Low of the Day: The reality of the events that happened at Dachau.

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