Dachau

by Colleen Morrow in


Yesterday started with a trip to Dachau, which was the model for all other concentration camps. The camp is large, as expected, and our audio guides took us through the camp from arrival to the crematorium.

Because of expected rain, we didn't follow the route in order but started with the crematorium. It started pouring pretty much as we got inside and it quickly became a popular spot to wait out the rain. While nothing like the overcrowding that would have actually happened at Dachau, it was an unsettling feeling. Dachau claims to have never used their gas chamber for mass killings but there is one and I think the general consensus is that it was used. There are also several graves where thousands are buried (and the graves are not large) as well as two places where executions where carried out (I think one was firing squad and the other for hangings.). The barracks are no longer standing but the foundations are still in place, plus two reconstructed barracks, one of which shows the progression of the barracks over the years. They get more and more cramped as time passes. And while originally built for around 50 people, they held up to 450. 

The original maintenance building has been turned into a museum where you learn more about particular prisoners, life at the camp, the progression of SS officials, and the eventual liberation of the camp. It's been open for quite a long time and was created with the input of camp survivors. The memorial out from, in the roll-call square, is very large and prominent, as you would expect. Generally, the camp is a tribute to survivors as opposed to a grisly history, focussing on the people who were there. It was an experience that will stay with me for a long time.