Today’s adventure was a little more of a sorrowful one but nonetheless very important to the history of Germany, and something that cannot be swept under the rug. We got our bus back today and headed over to Dachau, one of Hitler’s concentration camps. I was actually looking forward to this day, you always learn about how treacherous the concentration camps were in school but nothing compares to being in the same space those poor people suffered in. I was actually quite surprised as to how much the camp was revamped to look like how they appeared many years ago. Most of the tour carried a very heavy feeling with it, especially when we saw the area where they did roll call every morning. The area was a lot larger than I had expected it to be, you can also envision the men standing there based on the images.
Just seeing the areas where they used to burn the bodies of the dead makes you sick to your stomach. The “showers” that were actually disguised gas chambers and the actual machines they used to burn the people in were incredibly saddening to see in person. And the fact that they built a second, bigger building to burn the bodies in just demonstrated how many innocent souls they we were taking for no good reason at all. The fact that these people were killed and then stripped of their uniforms and then they were cleaned and given to the next entries also demonstrated the magnitude of how many men they were bringing into this camp. The space in the present day is almost ironic in its existence though, in my opinion, it was one of the nicest, more peaceful places we went to in the entire camp. The birds were chirping, the flowers were blooming and the sun hit it at just the right angle. It is almost like God or whatever higher power you believe in, knew the horrors of the area and gave it a new life.
After leaving this area, we saw the living quarters, and to say I was shocked was an understatement. I’m not entirely sure what I expected, I think I thought I was going to see poorly constructed bunk beds, but it was even worse than that. Especially these men were sleeping in bed right next to each other and had to climb other each other’s beds just to get to their own. In the quarters, the tour guide gave us some more info about the day-to-day of the prisoners. They got up at 4 or 5 in the morning and would get “breakfast” which consisted of “coffee” which was really just brown water. They would then work all day with a short break for lunch and went back to work. After their day was over they couldn’t relax or sleep, they then had more work in their living quarters where they had to clean the floors and make sure they were squeaky clean. Not only were these people being overworked but they were being malnourished, it’s no wonder so many of them were dying to the point that they had bodies just rotting outside. Seeing the two sinks and the bathroom that was basically just 10 toilets in a room with no barriers or anything really emphasized what the Germans went through to dehumanize the prisoners in any way they could.
After walking through the camp and the museum, it was a real reality check from the depictions that you see in the movies. The experience of those innocent, helpless people went way deeper than anyone can describe verbally. I’m very happy that we got the chance to visit the site as it is a very important part of Germany’s history but overall the history of the world. There is a number of people and countries that turned a blind eye to the Holocaust and it’s important that we educate people and make them know this was an actual real event that millions of people suffered through. I’m glad Germany is now taking an active role in commemorating the lives of these people. There is one structure in the camp that I believe sums up what everyone should take from the camp and the holocaust in general. “Never Again.” The world needs to be educated about the severity of these events so that something like this never happens ever again, in Germany and in the rest of the world.
A sad but more educated Sydney