Monday, July 25, 2011

Dachau Concentration Camp

On July 1st we had the opportunity to visit the Dachau Concentration camp in southern Germany, near Munich. Visiting the concentration camp really changed my perspective in a lot of ways. I was looking forward to seeing such an interesting and sad part of history, but by the end I was such a mess, I didn't want to see anymore.
 entrance gates
 roll call ground
Seeing this huge, empty ground was really eerie. The whole time we were there, it was just humbling and very sad to think about what took place on the grounds.   

 Individual jail cell
 There were quite a few individual cells. They went all the way down this hall and very far down the other direction as well.

 This dress was donated by it's owner Margita Horakova. She kept this dress all those years and donated it to the memorial in 2010. She wore this and only this dress for probably about a year straight. She had to sew her prisoner number on this dress and for that she used a thread from a blanket. The yellow strip above her number signified she was Jewish.

 Crematorium 
 Gas Chamber
You can see on the ceiling all the holes that used to have "shower heads" in them. I learned on my visit to Dachau that the shower heads never worked. They were purely a facade to get the prisoners in there to think they were able to take a shower. There were "shoots" on the outside of the building that almost looked like mailboxes. That is how they put the gas in the room. So inhumane and so tragic. 
Near the end of the usage of this specific concentration camp they ended up opening up a sector for women. When I went through the part of the museum/memorial dedicated to women in the camp, that is when I really fell apart. I read personal accounts and saw pictures of some of the women who survived through this sick and twisted time. I read the type of things they did to pregnant women and to their babies once they were born, and even what they did to these women after they had their babies. Even as I type this, I can't help but cry because after having a baby, going through labor and loving my baby as much as I do, I simply cannot imagine, fathom or believe the things these women went through. I, of course, won't mention any specifics, but maybe when we are having a bad day, or think our lives are hard we can think back to the lives they led, with no freedom and very little, if any, happiness.

Near the end of our visit I was finally able to read of the liberation of Dachau. It lifted my spirits slightly because even those few lives that were saved are absolutely priceless. I wish it could have ended sooner, but I am glad it ended. I read of 7 women with their 7 babies that survived and were liberated by U.S. soldiers. 

I have a new and even more improved gratitude for those who serve our country and for those that are brave enough to save lives and liberate those who do not experience freedom like we do. Some of the young men that went into that Nazi concentration camp were only 18 years old. Can you imagine how scary it would be as a young 18 year old to go face to face with those Nazi guards and then deal with the ruin the camp was in? Find thousands of dead bodies and thousands of people on the brink of death? I really cannot. 

Even today there are people going through similar things, and that is why our country, ever strong and brave continues to fight for the freedoms of Americans and those that don't even share our citizenship. But, we are all God's children and that is why I don't like hearing people say we should "stay out of it, if it's not our country." This world will probably continue to get worse and worse, but as long as our country has anything to do with it, I hope we continue to do as we have always done: Stand up for freedom and aid those in need. 

 Women of Dachau waving to their U.S. liberators 
Liberated men cheering to the U.S. troops

4 comments:

  1. We went to Dachau when we were in Munich a couple years ago and I felt the same way. Such a humbling and somber experience. Just heartbreaking. I am obsessed with everything Munich...so jealous you are so close!! xoxo

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  2. we went to this exact camp when we were in europe and the whole experience is so overwhelming. you wrote it all so well!

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  3. Your travels bring back so many memories! We went to the same camp.

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