Krematorium in Dachau – #AtoZChallenge

London to Sydney Overland

Day  Three

 

I left London just over 48 hours ago. Today is our first official stop, the first day we haven’t just been driving.

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.

I’m not really sure how I feel about being here. It is a beautiful day. I forgot my sunglasses on the truck and I squint as the sun bounces off the light gravel. It’s quiet despite the crowd. I can hear my footsteps crunch with every step I take.

I approach the iron gates.

Entrance Gate

Arbeit Macht Frei.

This is the inscription on the gate.

Arbeit Macht Frei. Work Sets You Free. 

I swallow.

Dachau Memorial Gate

Most of the crowd goes immediately to the right, to the museum, so I turn left to walk the grounds. This feels like something I want to be as solitary an experience as possible. No large chatty clusters. At the same time, I don’t want to be entirely alone walking among these ghosts. I’ve never been somewhere that has held this kind of long-term evil and I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to react. I’ve voiced this concern to Michelle, and she’s invited me to stay with her and Ed.

We walk the Camp Road and approach the Krematorium. This feels like a frightening and fitting introduction to the site.

Denket Daran Wie Wir Hier Starben.

 

There are memorials all around this area, remembering the dead. Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Russian Orthodox – they are all here, asking for silence in this place of prayer.

I’m now in the bunker courtyard. I’m struck by how beautiful it is and how odd it is I find it beautiful. I try to envision how so many thousands of people lived in this space and fail.

Building 21

It is unimaginable.

I enter the remaining barracks and realize, this is how. This is how they fit all those people in such a small space. My chest aches.

The museum houses the permanent exhibition, including photographs of the people imprisoned here. It is sobering and chilling and gray. I’m starting to feel the urgency of our departure time and try to read as much, absorb as much as I can as quickly as I can.

One of the old prisoner baths remains intact. People were tortured and died in this room.

For me, the artwork featured is the most haunting. Sitting within the context of these personal stories, the historic atrocious facts the sculptures are even more eerie and heartbreaking.

Art in the Museum

The exact number of people who died at Dachau is unknown, but it is over 40,000. Two hundred thousand people were imprisoned here over the 12 years it operated under Hitler and the SS. On April 29th, 1945 Dachau Concentration Camp was liberated by the 20th Armored Division U.S 7th Army.

Denket Daran Wie Wir Hier Starben.

Remember How We Died Here.

Dachau Krematorium

Remember How We Died Here.

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