This isn’t a happy travel story like the many other posts on my blog — it’s quite the opposite actually. But it’s something that I wanted to share on my website because although most tourists are interested in Oktoberfest and the Marienplatz while in Munich, I believe it’s just as crucial to visit the not-so-fun-and-happy sites like the Nazi concentration camps. The experience is heavy and sobering, and although it’s difficult to comprehend that something as horrific as this actually occurred, it’s important to pay our respects. People need to first handedly learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly stuff that happens in our world instead of just reading about it in a textbook, and that’s why I think everyone should visit a concentration camp. It was part of my high school choir group’s agenda and then I went again with my husband years later.
We decided that visiting Dachau Concentration Camp was something we needed to do while abroad, and because I have family in Germany and we were visiting them at the time, it was a very touchy subject. Since my husband and I know very little German (we can both say “good day”, “thank you” and I can count), and only two of my relatives know broken English, we couldn’t figure out if they were offended, embarrassed, or angry that we had plans to tour the camp. Although it’s part of their country’s history, they obviously didn’t support the genocide and I have a feeling that it’s sometimes difficult to cope with the past. Nonetheless, we hopped on a train from Munich to Dachau and spent the entire day there.
As we entered the concentration camp’s gates I remember the sun shining and the birds chirping and for some reason, that made me uncomfortable. You’d expect dark and gloomy weather when visiting a place like this and that wasn’t the case. I also realized that the massive trees lining the gravel paths had been there since the concentration camp opened its doors. It was eerie to think that they had “seen” everything.
From the memorial: “May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 and 1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defense of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men.”
What did I take away from this visit? Remember the atrocities humans are capable of so that they never happen again.
Filed Under: Germany, Travel