Thursday, June 12, 2014

Europe 2014 - Part Three - Dachau

I really felt that this should be it's own post.  It just didn't seem right to lump it in with the fun part of my trip.

I know to many people a trip to a concentration camp doesn't sound like a vacation worthy stop.  And I get it.  But it was important for me to visit, as we were so close to Dachau on our way to Munich.

Having read countless books on the topic of the Holocaust, I was somewhat prepared for what I saw.  Somewhat.  I knew what the barracks would look like, the area where roll call was performed, the bathrooms (or what one might call a bathroom).  What I wasn't prepared for what the punch in the gut when I walked to the gate that said "Arbeit Macht Frei".  "Work makes you free" in German.  Which, of course, was a total joke and slap in the face to the prisoners interned there.
There are several memorials within the camp.  This is the main memorial once you're inside the camp.  It says:

"May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 and 1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defense of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men."
This is looking out of a barrack onto the area where roll call was held.
These are the barracks where prisoners were held.  They slept on straw infested with bed bugs and lice and were packed in like sardines.
One of the Jewish memorials.

Another memorial on site.
Area where roll call was held.  Each morning around 4am all prisoners in the camp would wake up, eat a piece of bread (often made with paper and sawdust), have a cup of "coffee" and head to this area.  Here they would stand in line and be counted, sometimes waiting hours for the camp SS leaders to show up.  From here they would be sent to hard labor, reporting back to this area at the end of their exhaustive day.

I'll never forget my time here.  It was painful to see that the world let this happen.  It made me think, as a Christian with little chance of being selected to be a prisoner at any one of the numerous camps, would I be someone who would help?  Would I hide a family to save them?  Would I put my life on the line to try to right the wrongs being committed.  I hope and pray that I would.  I hope and pray I never have to.

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