I visited Dachau concentration camp last month. I was both reluctant and keen to visit, but I am glad I experienced it and would recommend it to anyone. Although horrific, it is so important that what happened is remembered. It was a powerful, harrowing and sobering experience, which is not easy to describe in words, but I will try.
The first thing that struck me, after passing through the iron gates bearing the infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, was the sheer scale of the camp. It was a huge site, eerily vast, compounding the reality of how big “the answer to the Jewish question” was. Standing on the very ground that such devastation and evil occurred was chilling. I only took photos of the exterior but the interior has been very well done and offers an informative, eye-opening and moving insight, where the horrors of the camp are laid bare.
It is so difficult to fathom just how such inhumane cruelty could occur, how this was ever allowed to happen, and it’s frightening to think how relatively recent in our history it is – it is still in the lifetime of many. As you walk around the site you can’t help but imagine what the people brought there had to endure, both mentally and physically. It doesn’t even bear thinking about.
The subject matter is obviously very difficult, but the memorial honours the victims and the atrocities of the Holocaust in the best way it can. It is a testament to Germany that they acknowledge the past – Germany is a very different place now. They are an extremely kind nation and the people are the most friendly of any country I have visited. From living in Munich I have discovered this first hand – I have yet to encounter a rude German, they will go out of their way to help you and are very charitable. Something I have noticed on weekends; boxes sitting on the pavement outside apartment blocks, filled with an array of belongings from books to crockery, with a handwritten sign ‘zu verschenken’ (to give away); just an example of how philanthropic a nation it is.