Ever since seeing Schindler’s List on my 22nd birthday (what an incredible piece of cinemamatography) I have wanted to visit Auschwitz or any concentration camp really for that matter. It seems like a weird thing to want to do I guess and may be borderline morbid but I think of it more as wanting to learn more about the atrocities we as human’s can inflict on each other and with a hope of doing better than the last few generations in teaching my children not to judge people by the colour of their skin, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, their politics, their religion etc. I really just want my children to judge people on whether they are a complete dickheads or not to put it in basic terms. And for me there is almost a disbelief that people can be so cruel to others and just wanting to learn more about negative things that shaped history.
So it was with all of this in mind when I planned our trip day trip from Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp. After much researching I decided I wanted a good tour guide because as you all know I’m a huge believer in having someone who is very knowledgable take me through historic places otherwise I miss the point of everything. Just staring blankly at buildings and monuments etc does not give you even the slightest idea of what has happened in a place like Dachau so I read and read and finally decided on James from In Their Shoes – Dachau Tours. The reviews on Trip Advisor were excellent and the cost was very reasonable. We were to meet him at the Munich train station in the morning and to our surprise James was Australian. Having been craving Aussie accents I can’t tell you how excited we were. He seemed pleased to chat to us too so it was a mutual love fest right from the start and I did feel a bit sorry for the other 10 people on the tour because I feel we did monopolise him a little but oh well, all’s fair in the tour guide game!!!
James was an excellent guide. He was so respectful of the people who had been imprisoned in this camp and his knowledge was outstanding and he told all of the facts in a gentle and informative way. I would highly recommend him if you are going for a visit.
Now normally this blog is where I write all the funny things to try to get a laugh out of you all but for this update I’m just going to spell out a few basic facts about Dachau and then share some pictures that I would be very pleased for you to look through and I will leave it there. I want to be respectful for the people who suffered and lost their lives and so will let the pictures do the talking….
- Dachau was the first ever Nazi concentraton camp
- It served as the prototype for all of the other camps
- Dachau is small compared to the big death camps like Auschwitz
- 31,500 people were killed (that is documented deaths, likely many many more)
- It held just under 200,000 prisoners
- Prisoners were used as forced labourers to build roads, work in gravel pits etc
- It’s located 16km out of Munich and built on the grounds of an old munitions factory
- Prisoners were tortured with floggings, had to stand at attention for long periods, tree/pole hangings and put in “standing” prison cells for days to name just a few
- Doctors performed medical experiments on prisoners such as high altitude testing using decompression chambers, malaria and tuberculosis experiments, hypothermia experiments and new medication trials
- Many of those prisoners experimented on died
- The camp ran from 1933-1945
The front gates
The ironic message on the gate “freedom through work”
How it looked during it’s operation as a camp
I found this the most powerful and sad. The foundations of all of the original buildings that housed all of the camp prisoners. Sooooo many…
Guard Watch Towers
The ovens for burning bodies
Some of the inside living
Monuments and sculptures
I can’t say I enjoyed visiting here because that would be the wrong term. I am very glad I went – it’s important to see the terrible part of history, not just the pretty buildings and lovely parks and paintings etc. I left feeling sick to my stomach that such an atrocity could take place and it breaks my heart that so many innocent people were tortured and killed. It was very impactful on husband and I and so I am very glad we went.
Sigh……humans can be total assholes sometimes!!!!!