Everyone knew today was going to be long and hard, but worth it in the end. After a very exciting and upbeat day in Munich, we were going to spend the day at an old Concentration Camp. The weather was fitting, as it was cold and rainy all day long. It was not a long bus ride before we arrived at Dachau. I was looking forward to this day, but knew it would be a sad day.
Since I live in DC, I have been to the Holocaust Museum that is located downtown. I knew that going to the actual camp would be a completely different experience. After we all got organized in the visitors center, we met with our tour guide and walked into the cold and rainy weather. The first part of the tour was walking through the gates that every prisoner walked through. On the gate it read “Work will set you free” in German. It was surreal thinking about those words and how so many lives were forced against there will to enter such a terrible and cruel environment.
We continued on the tour and had the chance to walk through the museum, the barracks, the memorial churches and ended with the gas chambers. The moment that hit me the hardest was when we went to the barracks. The first room was the smallest, but the tour guide explained how four people were forced to sleep in one bed together. These beds were smaller then an average twin bed. We all sat in the room as she explained the average day. It was so shocking as she explained how terrible every aspect of their day was. Every story she told was worse then the one before. One example was the button story, where a button fell of a man’s shirt and he would be punished either way for having messed up his uniform or keeping the button in his pocket.
The people that were kept here got everything taken away from them and then were forced to work 12 hour days. Sometimes when terrible events in history are talked about it is hard to really feel or understand what happened. Between the tour and the video I went to watch after the images would likely never go away. The film was of the Dachau camp, so I was now putting the actual locations I had seen on the tour with the images of the people from the film. I am grateful that I had the chance to visit Dachau during this trip. Although this was a very hard day, I do not think I will ever forget what I saw.
I hope that nothing like this will ever happen again in human history. I believe it is important for people to remember these events and talk about them. This experience opened up that opportunity for our whole group. Once we got back to the hotel I was exhausted and ready to go to my room. However, I was grateful that we all gathered in the lobby to talk about the day. Dr. Feick was able to tell us a lot and answer any questions that we had.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reflecting about the morning. A group of us gathered to go to dinner at Doner. This was easily becoming our favorite, quick food in Augsburg. We then went down the street to get gelato and headed back to the hotel tonight.