It’s hard to explain what it was like to be in such a place. Words don’t give it justice and no explanation can fully describe the feelings you feel when you walk through the gates of Dachau. It’s almost as if the very ground is haunted with the agony and torment of those who were once imprisoned there.
Dachau was the first concentration camp and served as a model for all other camps that were to follow. Although it wasn’t a death camp where they committed mass murder, there were still physical and mental torment and countless executions that took place in the camp. There were about 32 000 documented deaths and countless that were covered up or hidden from documentation.
I could go on with the statistics but I feel like there is no point to it.
You can see people walking around and taking pictures but I couldn’t bring myself to take out my camera and start snapping. There had already been too much taken from this place.
I spent about 4 hours walking through the museum and around the property, through the rooms were the inmates were striped of their clothing and humanity and told that they were nothing more than a pile of shit, rooms where people were they were tortured and beat when a guard would find so little as a finger print on a window or a bed not made to perfection.
I walked down hallways where inmates, with heads hung low, walked their way to be hung by their arms backwards from the sealing. I walked across the yard where they had to stand at attention for hours everyday. I walked through the rooms were SS guards worked and the bunkhouses where humans were crammed in like sardines in a can. I walked through the crematorium where people were hung and then shoved into the ovens to be burnt. I even walked through one small gas chamber, disguised as a shower were I know people had fallen to their deaths. Rooms were bodies were stacked all the way up to the ceiling.
And through it all, the only thing I could do was reflect. How could this have happened?How could people be so merciless, so cruel, so utterly inhumane? How could there be god in the sky watching as all this happened. I questioned my own humanity.
The thing that struck me the most was the stillness and normality in the trees on the outside of the fence. It was jarring to see such serenity, that would have still been there back then when such horror was happening in the camp.
The feelings were strong and came over me like a wave when I stepped foot in Dachau. We have all heard of concentration camps, but it becomes so much more real when you see it in person. I was hesitant about going because I almost didn’t want to see the abhorrent truth in person, but in the end I’m glad that I did. In some ways it changed me. Like the thousands of men and women who were held in Dachau, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after walking through those gates.