Wednesday 25th July.
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial.
What can you say to describe this place, I know a lot of you reading this may have been here previously on “Kontiki” or your own OE, and probably all shared the same experiences and emotions.
To think that in excess of 41500 human beings were systematically put to death or died from mistreatment in this little area is hard to fathom. Especially when the inscription in the entry greats translates into ” Work makes you free”.
We opted for the Audioguide here and spent about 4 ½ hours to get around it. The museum along with the Audioguide is hauntingly detailed. A lot of it was in relation to Hitlers rise to power, through misinformation, propaganda, sheer terror and racial prejudice. What seemed to be the underlying factor that allowed this regime to start is the fact that Germany was in such a poor state through the 1920’s due to the failure and repercussions of WW1, then with the world wide depression during the 1930’s it was very easy for such discrimination to rise and the promises of a better way to take hold. One thing I wasnt aware of is that Hitler himself was actually jailed for a period for political crimes during the late 1920’s.
The Audioguide also contained survivors and liberators memoirs which made it even more haunting.
I am not sure what I expected to feel here, but 1 thing that I have noticed here and throughout Germany is the lack of war memorials for the German population both Military and Civilian.
The question I keep thinking is that now, it is the Grandchildren of the German Military, Nazism and general population and what do they think and understand of that part of their history.
This was highlighted at Dachau where a lot of the tour groups were German, to think that 73 years ago when the camp was liberated by the Americans with over 32000 living skeletons in a place built for 5000, the civilian population of Dacahau literally on the other side of the barbed wire, refused to believe it was happening.
The other thing highlighted in the Museum was the sheer number of these camps spread through Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Dachau is definitely now a memorial, with an extensive museum through some of the old prison quarters and internment buildings, 2 rebuilt prisoner huts ( these are in the process of being redone in the next couple of years to more realistically present the overcrowding conditions at the end of the war), the foundations of the other 26 huts, the crematorium area and ovens and the memorial chapels that have been erected on the site.
From here it was a quick trip down to Munich proper to a campsite in the Carpark of The Alliance Arena, home to FC Bayern Munich.