Friday, May 25, 2012

Monday 14.05

Today was our second day in München. The main event of the day was going to the Dachau concentration camp. I was a little worried about today, how I would react to everything I saw. After everything I have learned in all my years of history classes, I knew it wouldn't be pretty.
We all got up, had breakfast at the hostel, packed up our stuff and headed to Dachau. When we got there I chose to have an audio tour in English. I really wanted to get everything out of my experience.
The first thing you see as you walk into the camp is the gate that reads "Arbeit macht frei" meaning "work makes you free". Then there was the building that had been converted into the museum, the bunker, the barracks, and the large memorial and sculptures. Behind where the barracks once stood are the religious memorials and the crematorium.
Where all the barracks once stood
Christian memorial

Inside Christian memorial

Jewish memorial

inside jewish memorial

Inside the chapel

Inside the chapel

I honestly cannot put everything I saw and felt into words, that is beyond my mental capacity. Realizing that I was walking on the same ground that so many others had, so many who had been tortured, deprived, starved and eventually killed. I had chills running up and down my spine the whole time.
The large memorial in the front of the camp was one of the first places I visited. The whole thing was lined with wreaths in remembrance of those who were once held in Dachau. Then there is a large black sculpture. Looking up at it, seeing the image, it makes you stop breathing, stop everything you are doing. The dis-formed bodies created the appearance of barbed wire. It is amazing, astonishing and disgusting all at the same time. At the end of the memorial is a large plaque that reads "Never again" and a large container holding the ashes of an unknown person. The ashes were found still in the crematorium when the camp was surrendered and taken over by the Allies.

In the barracks, you get a sense of how life was for those living there. The buildings were built to hold around 200 people but held about 2000. That is just mind-blowing. The strict rules they had to abide by were horrendous. The Nazi's seemed to be looking for a reason to punish those in the concentration camp.

The crematorium made me feel sick to my stomach and want to cry all at the same time. That was where it hit me the hardest that people died there. In that exact room. In the exact spot I was standing in. Those rooms were once used for mass murder. It is something you never understand until you are standing there. All the pictures in the world could not give someone the same feeling in those rooms.
The trench and barbed wire that kept everyone in

The first crematorium. It was soon too small.
Disinfection chamber
The door leading to the "showers"
The "showers" gas chamber

The room all the bodies were held in

Only half the room

The hooks on the beam were used for hangings

Behind the crematorium was a trail that had burial places plus a few other places.

Pistol range for execution

By the time I got to the museum I had had almost all I could take. Plus the museum seemed to only be reiterating what I had seen and learned already.
When I finished in the museum and double checked I had seen everything, we had another picnic lunch in a field across the street from the camp. From there Anderson sent us our separate ways so that we could do what we wanted/needed to. Becky and I wanted to get some souvenirs and remembered seeing a whole bunch of shops by the Hofbrauhaus the night before. We felt like champions after finding our way there all by ourselves. While at the shops I contemplated a few different items for people but could not justify spending the money on it.

Finally we headed back to the train station where we ran into a handful of the guys from the group.
Jason looking super attractive eating yet another döner
We took the train home together and I went to bed. Long day. Long weekend.

Best part of the day: finding our way through Munich!
Worst part: standing on the same ground so many died on

Hoping to continue catching up!!!

Lots of love from Germany!

Katy Jo

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