This was an extremely difficult post to write. Before visiting, I considered whether or not I wanted to document our visit to Dachau. Visiting the memorial site is an emotional, somber, and personal experience, and I wasn’t sure if this forum was the best way to go about sharing mine. After visiting I decided that creating a post was an important thing for me to do. Everyone needs to remember all the innocent lives that were lost and it is imperative that we do not forget the unfathomably terrible atrocities committed here. This will not be a long post, because I simply couldn’t find the words to describe all the varying levels of sadness, pain, emptiness, anger, and other emotions that I felt that day. I also didn’t take many photographs while there, the few you see here were all that I captured.
Dachau was opened in 1933 and was the very first Nazi concentration camp. It was originally intended for political prisoners, but eventually evolved into a camp for anyone Adolf Hitler deemed unfit – Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, the physically and mentally handicapped, and many others. Dachau served as a model for all other concentration camps and became a “school of violence” for the SS concentration camp personnel. Many prisoners died from malnutrition, disease, or execution, and many more were sent from Dachau to death camps across Europe where they were taken to the gas chamber. Many prisoners were subjected to inhumane medical experiments and women here were forced into prostitution. The dead were cremated in one of two crematorium buildings. In Barack X, the more recently constructed building, prisoners were often hanged directly in front of the ovens. When Dachau was liberated by the US troops in 1945, they discovered thousands of corpses piled up inside and outside of the building because they had run out of coal to fire the ovens.
This memorial site was opened in 1965 on the initiative of the committee of the surviving prisoners of Dachau. They have done a beautiful job with the memorial and if you are visiting Germany I would strongly consider a visit.