To Dachau, on a Crowded Tram

The town of Dachau is a small and perhaps purposely beautiful community with impeccable landscaping, floral walkways, and cottage homes. The streets stretch under a large canopy of shade trees and are peppered with cafes, service stores, and boutiques.

13466101_10154323667048885_2922665295005329200_n

From our B&B in München, we took the S2 line toward Peterhausen for approximately twenty minutes. When you exit the station, you can immediately board the free KZ-Gedenkstätte trolley designated specifically for Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. Don’t expect any signs or smiling guides though.

13393971_10154323667118885_6590752635582129055_n

It was well over 95 degrees Fahrenheit when we visited. I had forgotten to bring a water bottle, my stomach was growling, and the process of waiting for other passengers to board the trolley-train was lengthy and tiresome.

13435469_10154323667563885_2151352778110996648_n

Feelings of heat exhaustion, hunger, claustrophobia, impatience, uncertainty, and anxiety began to creep in. Possibly this is part of the tour- could it have been intentional, to put us in the right mindset for what comes next?

13450730_10154323667403885_8437073756027882137_n

The site itself is sterile and devastating. At times I really did not want to continue walking around anymore corners or being confronted by more faces, personal stories, real people, or surreal brutality.

13512181_10154323668558885_6982423983828543722_n

Inside those walls lies an uneasy collection of what was forgotten when the facts, statistics, and summaries that make it all more digestible are compacted in order to fit between the cover of a history books.

To paraphrase such a catastrophic experience is to strip it bare.

13509109_10154323669008885_4828131060831257933_n

Inside a holding cell for up to 15-20 people

13524338_10154323668848885_342520635309199377_n13516352_10154323669198885_4685450141752452499_n

I did not take, or even want to take, many photos. The sky was so dark and gloomy over this land in contrast to the bright sunny day we had left a few miles behind.

This is where rows of “clinics” were set up to torture and experiment with prisoners, in addition to labor buildings. I took this through a small opening in the wall.

13450996_10154323669323885_2037006935858343570_n

Visiting a genocide memorial should be a social rite of passage, as it is our civic duty to educate ourselves and to foster empathy and understanding.

 

13516186_10154323669413885_5591524503920156360_n

However, after visiting a place like this and facing the horrors that humans are capable of, it is difficult to gather my feelings. Harder yet to fully express them.

Ignorance of the Native American genocide/ Holocaust and erasure of the victims has allowed the Armenian, Bosnian, Cambodian / Khmer Rouge, Rwandan, Darfur, and other atrocities to keep happening. And sadly, they will likely continue in one place or another in our world.

Follow me, with a heavy heart, back to München.

 

*************
© Fernwehtun, 2015- Current. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fernwehtun and Fernwehtun.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s