This spontaneous trip to Dachau was definitely never in the plan. But because of my uncle who sponsored me to Germany happen to be so into the World War history. He saw the advertisement of Dachau tour nearby our hotel. The price was reasonable and the tour doesn’t take much time while we could visit another town. So why not?
Dachau, for some of you who don’t know (including me before), is a town in Bavaria. Only 16 km away from Munich. Nazi chose here to be the first concentration camp in Germany in purpose of holding political prisoners. And this is where one of the cruel stories in human history happened here at Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.
ARBEIT MACHT FREI means ‘Working will make you free’. You will confront this sign before entering the camp. It would be the first thing to see and for some people who passed this gate to the other side would gradually realized that it was just a propaganda. However my tour guide, Keith, said this was just a duplicate. The real gate has been stolen!
As I said, what happened here was so cruel. After the World War ended, this place is opened as a museum. For the younger generation to study the true history and to experience the real place. One thing about Germany is that the German people, they never lie to their children. What happened in the past is nowadays being taught in their school lesson. So you can see students sitting on the ground while their teachers telling the stories in every section all over the place.
The space outside is the wide green field with various sculptures decorated and Keith also explained the meaning behind some of them. Other sculptures are rather like the quotes saying about this place in different languages. It really lifts up the feeling towards those hard situations.
“May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men.”
Then Keith took us to step inside to where the prisoners slept. People who stayed within this camp were not only the political prisoners but also include forced labor, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded.
They all lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, where the prisoners would be standing at attention for extremely long periods. There were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, and thousands that are undocumented.
The beds weren’t enough for amounts of prisoners that dramatically increased, so they had to sleep in a very tight condition next to each other. While the hygiene practice was also really bad. Keith showed us a room that supposed to be a bathroom but there were only a fountain in the middle and many holes that served as toilets.
Now we saw where they slept then move on to where they were killed. Along the way we walked to the exterminated place, this space used to be hubs that many prisoners spent the rest of their lives in before sending off to be assassinated.
The prisoners who destined to be killed will be sent off to the house while they didn’t realized that it was going to be the last day of their life. Because the house looks pretty simple and there is in fact a sign with the word Bathroom written on it, so basically the prisoners thought they were allowed to take a shower.
The first room is where the prisoners disposed their clothes of, there is the spray coming out from ceiling that would kill any dirtiness and germs. Then the prisoners moved themselves into BRAUSEBAD (bathroom). And for a while they were exterminated by the toxic spray.
The toxic gas came from the holes on the ground. Inside, the ceiling of this room is pretty low because the toxic gas would goes up in the air and then when it occupied all over the place. No one survived. If I wasn’t mistaken, it takes only 10-15 minutes to kill everyone within the room. This is speechless, it was so cruel that you couldn’t imaging how people could do such a terrible thing to our own kind.
,,Den Toten zur Ehr,
Den Lebenden zur Mahnung”
“To Honor the Dead, to Warn the Living”