Monday, September 21, 2015

Dachau

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It's nearly impossible to go to Germany without exposing yourself to some part of German history.  One thing we continuously heard throughout our trip in various parts of the country was that Germans wanted to expose people to the bad parts of their history so that people could learn about it and hopefully not repeat it.  The Germans don't try to hide their history, but I could always tell that they felt bad about their past and truly didn't identify with those viewpoints. It's an interesting concept and one that I appreciate. There are plenty of parts of American history that are not so wonderful (Japanese Internment Camps for one) that we often gloss over in history class but never really expose the public to.

One thing both Mike and I knew we wanted to do while in Germany was Dachau Concentration Camp.  It's not a far drive from Munich, so we decided to do that once we picked up our rental car.

The entrance to the camp




I love taking pictures of things, not only to remember them, but also so that people can see what we saw without actually being there.  This goes for the bad stuff, too.  I feel like it kind of goes with the German philosophy of educating people about what has happened so as to not have it repeat. Plus, this entire experience was so moving that there aren't quite words to explain how we were feeling.  Mike and I often found ourselves at a loss for words to even talk to each other about what we were seeing.  I think taking pictures allows people to see what we saw and kind of feel the same way.

So, my plan was to take pictures of a lot of different aspects of the concentration camp.  There were plenty of other people taking pictures so I didn't feel bad.  As we walked in, the sign below was on the door.  As I went to take a picture, this woman comes up to me and asks "Do you want to take a picture?" somewhat rudely. I just nodded and she replies "You don't need to take a picture.  This saying should be burned in your head."  I was so shocked that I just stood there as she walked away.  I guess  I just have a different perspective on pictures and how they are used, but it definitely shocked me a little bit.   It took me a while to get over the shock and feel comfortable taking pictures again, but I did and I'm glad because I think it's important for people to see.  Many people won't be able to travel and see this first hand, so this may be the closest they get.

"Arbeit Macht Frei" was the saying of Dachau, which means "Work Makes You Free."  This sign, which is on the door when you walk into the camp, is a replacement because someone stole the original this past spring.  

Walking through some of the prisoners rooms



These are the bunks where some of them slept


Each of these rows used to have a set of bunks and prison rooms.  The field is so large it's overwhelming to think of how many people were here.

I didn't take pictures of the showers because it was so overwhelming and just disgusting, but this memorial is outside of them and I liked how subtle, yet meaningful it was.

Dachau was an incredible experience.  Both Mike and I left emotionally and physically exhausted.  It's such a sad part of German and world history, bur I think it's important for people to see.  It was definitely the most somber part of our trip in Germany, but well worth the stop.

Step count: 15,065