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Published: October 15th 2008
Dachau Concentration Camp
The entrance.....It looked so innocent until you learnt what waswas happening
Tuesday 30th September
Dachau Concentration Camp
We arrived at the camp early and there were so many people and so many tour buses. Also surprising were the amount of Germany high school students.
We hired some audio guide and started to walk around. There was a big museum like set up, with heaps of exhibits to read. The exhibits were set up in original rooms, so while you read and listened to the guide, you were also given the history of the room.
After lunch which we had in the motor home, my Dad and I chose to do an English speaking tour which lasted about 2hours while Kurt who was feeling worse slept and rested in the motorhome.
We found out some really interesting fact….
Dachue was a prison for German prisoners first!! Some of you may have known this but I had no idea. When Hitler was first in power and had any opposition they were sent to Dachue prison, followed by undesirables (homosexuals, gypsies, Jewish, unemployed, people who’d had previous crimes.) The Nazi party then moved into other countries and more prisoners followed. I was amazed that Hitler and the Nazi turned
on their own people first and then moved outside the country, once they’d done everything to ensure they met with no resistance from Germans.
The amazing thing about the camp was that it was the blue print for all other camps around Europe. All the sick and depraved Nazi leaders/doctors/SS officers all had their unique training at Dachue and then went on to other caps. The guide was very honest and passionate about the camp and although my Dad and I started the tour thinking it was only about Hitler and 6 million Jewish people, we walked away with a greater understanding of the whole tragic mess.
The whole camp area was huge and encompassed not only the concentration camp but also the training section and numerous manufacturing buildings. The guide told us that there were different types of camps; camps that were considered pure and simply extermination camps like ** and ** (he said people are amazed when they visited those camps b/c people couldn’t get their heads around the idea that such small camps were able to kill so many people, whereas Dachue, worked people to death. So as he phrased it they “killed two birds with
one stone” they used them as slave labours and slowly killed them “inch by inch”.
It was an amazing afternoon. As we entered the original buildings, with the paint peeling and the floor uneven, he moved us into the shunting room where new prisoners were taken and instantly forgotten by the outside world, The concentration camp system was designed to dehumanise them, they were robbed of dignity, and rights and so many things we take for granted. He spoke so calmly in an Irish accent (go figure!) And somehow the horrible facts he was giving us were made worse by the matter of fact, tone of his voice.
We’d all been in the museum earlier in the day but now Kurt and My Mum and kids had returned to the motor home, in the car park. Katelyn had been a bit apprehensive about seeing the movie and photos so I walked in before the kids and had a quick look around and thought it was fine apart from a few photos that we avoided. Katelyn asked me endless question and I thought very carefully before I answered the especially after the film.
He showed us the room
Dachau Concentration Camp
One of three types of punishment
where the prisoners were punished and explained with chilling detail just a few of the tortures, explaining there wasn’t enough time in our 2 hours tour to talk about any more!!!
Although he spoke very calmly you could detect his revulsion and contempt for the SS officers who played games with these prisoners’ lives. He said legal rules ceased to exist once a person entered the camp and only the SS rules existed but the problem was the rules could never been met. The guards always changed the rules and when they were bored went out of their way to entrap the prisoners into breaking them just so they could be punished. He spoke of prisoners being servery punished for scratching their nose or stumbling during the twice daily roll call in sub zero temperatures.
He showed us the crematorium and asked that we respect it as we would a cemetery and before we entered he spoke of the detailed planning that was involved in the building of the gas chambers and neighbouring ovens. It seems unreal that he was explaining the fine details the Nazi went to ensure the death of these people. I suppose in my
Dachau Concentration Camp
the actual stool and whip
own mind it would have seemed better somehow if people were accidently killed and their bodies disposed of, but to hear how premeditated and organised the deaths were was so chilling. As we walked into the crematorium, I swear if felt so wrong as if we were walking on scared ground and violating it. There was a disrobing room where the clothes were taken off b/c they were told their clothes would be disinfected, then a room where the clothes were left, then a waiting room. They were told they were to have a shower while the clothes were being cleaned (he said this was quite true, clothes were often disinfected for lice during war). When we entered the gas chamber with its very low ceilings and concrete windowless four walls, I felt such an overwhelming sense of sadness, to think this sad cold and empty room, was the last thing so many people saw before they died.
There has been a great deal of speculation whether the gas chambers at Dacheu were extensive used as some other camps (Dachue was the only camp which remained open for the whole 12 years of the Nazi regime and he
gave a us a staggering fact. The ovens at Austhc would have killed in one weekend all the prisoners that Dachue would have killed during the entire 12 years period. The importance of the gas chamber and the actual Dachue camp, was that it became the prototype for all concentration camps that followed.
The guide spoke of how they cleverly pumped warm air into the room, waited for the poisonous capsule to change to cyanide and then 20 minute for the people to die. Then they moved the bodies into the next room and removed the gold fillings. Finally onto the ovens.
There was such reverence in that crematorium, more so then anywhere else in that camp, no one spoke, no one asked question, everyone moved around slowing and quietly.
Being outside was almost a relief.
The tour had ended and so my Dad stayed behind and rewalked the entire tour with his audio guide. I returned to the motorhome for my camera battery and took my Mum and Katelyn back to retrace my step and repeat as much as I could remember (just to let you know….the guide said at the beginning photos and videos
Toward the end we separated and I went back into the museum because with the kids there had been so much I missed and now I tried to catch up but I went in through the back door and so worked in reverse.
The very end of the museum as you would expect had many displays and exhibits of the liberation by the Americans.
There was a touching moment that I’ll never forget. There would have been about 10 people in this room, no one talking just silently moving around and reading the displays when a t.v screen started screening a video. It was of footage taken during the liberation by an American soldier. Slowly we all unconsciously gathered around and watched. A few people sat on the floor. There was no dialogue or music over the footage just chilling and real footage of the sight the American soldiers discovered in Dachue. I felt myself starting to choke up and after a few minutes of trying really d exactly the same and also had to walk away because he also felt very emotional.)
As I walked back to the motor home, I had
a battle not to cry because I was sure that if I started, I would set off everyone.
We spoke for a long time that night about everything we’d seen and heard and the kids wanted to stay up and sit on our laps while they listened very intently.
Later that evening we spent our first night at an autobarn. It was free!! They have a great system where you pay about a$1 to use the toilet and the money was redeemable for coffee and food. I know it seems like a great scam but you have to see these toilets to believe how clean they are. They are considered the world’s first no touch toilet system. When you enter the cubicle, you place your palm on a sensor and while the toilet seat rotates, its wiped clean with disinfecting solution and it dries instantly. Later there’s a sensor to flush and a sensor for the water to wash your hands and a sensor for the paper towel to wipe your hands. The kids love watching the seat rotate…. I must admit it freaked me out when Katelyn showed me!!! The poor kid must have moved strangely because
one time it started rotating while she was on it!!
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