Today we visited the Dachau Concentration camp visit and worked on our group project. Dachau was a very impactful experience. I’ve always taken interest in World War 2 and the Holocaust. For me, this is the most recent history where something this awful happened on such a massive scale. Even more powerful, is that there are still people alive to tell their stories and give their eye witness accounts. This was my first time at a work labor camp or any Holocaust site. I visited the Holocaust museum in the US and found it very interesting although sad. We toured the roll call area, a mock barrack, the real crematorium, and the main building used for offices and meals that is now the museum. There was a very intricate sculpture outside the main building. It depicted victims caught in the barbed wire that surrounded the camp. I was amazed at how a work of art could capture such a sad scene and make it so fascinating. Even stepping onto the property, you get an eerie feeling. For me, I could not get the idea out of my head that I was standing on someone’s grave. And worse, no one knew whose grave. Even though the landscape was beautiful with green scenery and chirping birds, awful things took place on this land. There were so many lives lost here and they walked this land in pain and agony.
Our tour guide was amazing and really knew her stuff. It was interesting to see how Germany dealt with what happened. I was shocked to find out that they destroyed almost everything and used the area to develop a town over the Holocaust site. New developments were made in the 50’s and lasted until the mid 60’s when the land was used for a school, a kindergarten, housing, and even a restaurant that was named after the crematorium. At this time, they just tried to literally bury the history. Around 10-15 years later, there was a movement to recover this recent history and not just brush it under the rug. They reopened the site as a memorial and spent time reconstructing the site. In addition, they spent time replacing details such as shower heads. Unfortunately, such ornate details and artifacts have value. There is a history of people stealing artifacts from the camp, including the front door to the camp.
After our tour, we were able to explore the museum on our own. In the museum, were more artifacts, but also more personal stories showing the evolution of the camp and the prisoners who resided there. As someone with German and Italian heritage, I found it interesting how the Nazi party expanded and how Italians also fell victim to Hitler, and how Italians ended up at the camp too. Further into the museum, I saw there was a porcelain deer and a decorative plate. These objects were here to show that the Nazi party was more than politics. In addition, to wreaking havoc on multiple countries and ethnicities, they also had a business plan. As shown in the description next to the porcelain features, the Nazi party tried to monopolize the porcelain industry. I never knew this and this was the first time I heard of any Nazi business ventures. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense; Support the Nazi party and get beautiful porcelain figures. Fortunately, their efforts to monopolize the industry failed.
I’m glad I was able to have the opportunity and experience of going to Dachau. I feel the Holocaust is an important part of Germany’s history and I am so grateful I was able to experience that. Today as a whole was very sad but important.