We did our fourth day trip out of Munich with nephew Jonathon, Jolene and Jolin since they had a rental car. Dachau is really just a suburb of Munich and we could have taken public transportation.
Dachau was one of the first concentration camps built by Nazi Germany and the longest running one, opening on March 22 1933 by Heinrich Himmler. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory.
The camp became a laboratory of terror for groups ostrasized from the national community. In particular, these included Jews, Sinti and Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, and “anti-socials” or professional criminals.
Jolin is listening to the audio guide. We wish that we had taken a private tour with a guide. The colored triangles in this memorial represent triangular colored patches that each prisoner had to wear announcing which group mentioned above they were a part of. Pink was for homosexuals, black for professional criminals, etc.
By the time American troops liberated Dachau on April 22 1945, altogether some 200,000 people had been incarcerated and no fewer than 41,500 died as a result of atrocious conditions of imprisonment, starvation, disease, torture, pseudo-medical experiments and murder. The photo above is one of many memorial sculptures.
The Camp is now a free museum open to the public daily. It is a memorial to honor the dead and warn the living.
This is the Mortal Agony of Christ Catholic Chapel and memorial bell. Above the entrance is a crown of thorns made of iron. Symbolically, the structure stands for the liberation from captivity through Christ. The memorial bell on the left rings out once a day shortly before 3 pm, the hour of Jesus’s death.
The camp had 32 barracks, only a few remain on the site today. They are all mapped out as seen above.
This is the Protestant Church of Reconciliation in honor of Dutch prisoners.
Gas Chamber Building consisted of a series of rooms; the first was where the prisoners disrobed and left their clothes before entering the gas chamber which was disguised as a shower room with fake shower spouts to mislead the victims and prevent them from refusing to enter the room. During a period of 15-20 minutes up to 150 people at a time could be suffocated to death through prussic acid poison gas.
The Crematoria were used to burn the dead bodies and the ovens were in operation day and night.
Translates to “Remember How We Died Here”. This is next to the crematorium.
Conditions in most barracks turned altogether inhuman in 1944 when a typhoid epidemic broke out and the beds were pushed extremely close together so that one slept with his head at the headboard, while the other’s head was at the bottom of the bed.
Inside washing room with large circular sinks for all prisoners to use.
While this is not an easy destination to take in we felt it was worth the visit. We have all grown up reading about the Holocaust in text books. We have seen movies on the abhorrent events that happened under the hands of the Nazi Party. HOWEVER, no book, photo, or movie can ever actually compare to what the victims went through. Standing on the same grounds where such heinous acts happened suddenly makes everything feel much closer. Everything feels heavy, dark, eerie and somber…as it should.
On a side note; It is mandatory for all Germans to attend at least one Holocaust site during their school years. Most will do a concentration camp tour. Germany is not proud of this part of their history but they also do not shy away from it so that history will not repeat itself.
We wrapped up the day with a nice lunch and much needed brews at the Munich Hofbrauhaus restaurant.
Prost. We love this family and have shared some wonderful memories with them. They all drank the liter while we shared a half liter although we did order a second one.
This is a 3 floor beer hall dating back to the 16th century and has a very upbeat vibe which we were in dire need of after our Dachau visit.
Typical beer hall entertainment.
As an aside, on a run the other day we explored a local cemetery and came across a Dachau memorial site.
The names of all of the victims are written on these sideboards all around the memorial.
The ashes of more than 3,000 prisoners of Dachau concentration camp are buried in this memorial grove. The urns of 3,996 concentration camp and Nazi euthanasia program victims are buried beneath the 44 memorial slabs. 3,972 of these victims are known by name..