Today was our visit to Dachau, which was the first concentration camp made by the Nazis during World War 2. Dr. Feick emphasized the importance of the visit and also the respectfulness we have to maintain during the tour.
We took a bus over and we met up with our tour guide near the entrance. They guided us around the prisoners camp and showed us various sights of the concentration camp.
When we arrived, the first thing that struck me was the immense size of the camp. In total, it held up to 50,000 people all on a single patch of land. The other thing that struck me was a painting of the Dachau roll call. Every morning at 4 am they would have roll call where every inmate was assembled on the front lawn and counted one by one. It must have been a shocking experience for all prisoners.
Our tour guide also covered the defense mechanisms of the camp. On every side of the prison was an electrified fence, barbed wire, and a 8 foot deep trench too wide to jump across. Being there and seeing a replica put into perspective how difficult it would have been to escape. Not only that, there were watchtowers that would shoot anyone who stepped out of line. One thing that stuck with me from this section was that a lot of prisoners purposefully stepped over the line and committed suicide because they could not cope with the pressure of their situation. The Nazis however justified it by saying that the prisoner was trying to escape. Even to this day we don’t know how a lot of the people died.
Next we moved onto the incinerator and cremation building. The building there was one of the first uses of the “shower heads” and Zyklon B. The building at Dachau was used as a prototype for all the others that were made, including all the death camps. It was extremely sad walking through the building and just seeing each room held a somber tone. The one thing that stuck out to me from this section was the incinerators. At the start, they had only one incinerator and only cremated one body at a time. However as time went on, more and more people died and they began to shove multiple in at a time and built multiple just to keep up with the death toll. It goes to show the lack of empathy the guards had for the human life in the camps and shows the inhumanity of their behavior.
After exiting the cremation building we walked along Camp Road to a replica building of the sleeping quarters. We stopped about halfway down the road and our tour guide asked us to be quiet and just look around. This road down the center of the concentration camp is lined with beautiful trees, and at the time of the camp’s use, was also lined with flowers. In the middle, it’s peaceful and if it weren’t for its location, it would’ve seemed in place at a park. Our tour guide told us that it was intentional. When people came, they weren’t shown the inside of the buildings or the cremation chamber, they were shown this road. It allowed them to say “well, they are prisoners, but they aren’t being treated poorly, just look at how beautiful the prison is.” It really put into perspective the contrast between what was within the trees and what lay outside.
We then went into the living quarters. The inside was made entirely of wood and there were 50-100 bunk beds in every room, of which, every building contained 4-5. The prisoners were required to clean their room 3 times everyday, once when they wake up, once on their “lunch break” and once at night. Even if there was no issue, a member of the guard could pick out a mistake and sentence you to a punishment for it. Although they slept in a bed, they could never call it a home. It was more like a cube that just subject them to more work than they were already doing. Not only that, they were being fed around 600 calories a day.
After walking to the memorial, our tour was finished. We walked around in the museum and saw a detailed history of what the Nazis did and the camp’s entire history. It was a good summary and recap of everything we had just seen however we did have to rush through as we were running a bit late.
Lastly, there were two more things that I wanted to make a note on and they were related to this image.
The atmosphere around this one visit was entirely different from everything else we have done and that’s for important reason. Although Dachau may be a sensitive topic it is a vital one to keep in mind. The world let Germany make concentration camps, kill millions, and didn’t say a word until after. Going to these places is a reminder of how real it was. Today, when we walked around, it was sunny and a fantastic day outside. There were no clouds, the wind was blowing, and there were birds chirping in the trees. However, over 80 years ago, it was exactly the same. It could have been sunny, no clouds, and birds in the trees, but instead of taking a tour they were getting systematically mass murdered by something outside of their control. Anyone could have very easily been unlucky with their lineage or been unfairly targeted. All in all, it was a great visit and I’m glad I learned so much.
For lunch, I once again at a leberkaese sandwich and a buttered pretzel just like when we went to BMW. We were all given our sandwiches and then we got on the bus and ate as we drove back to Augsburg.
For the rest of the day we were given free time to do whatever we wanted. First, for dinner we ate at Arkadas Kebab, which was recommended to us by the past Plus3 students who went on the trip. Honestly, I prefer Alibaba, but Arkadas definitely wasn’t bad. However it wasn’t as good nor as cheap as Alibaba. After dinner we started to work on our business presentations that are happening on Wednesday. We took a street car over to the University of Augsburg and met up with our group. We divvied up the work and generally went over what our presentation would be like. It took us about an hour and then we went back to the hotel, after which I went to sleep.