I think the most memorable place I've ever been was this one. It was chilling, sobering, horrifying, and yet indescribable. We visited on a bitterly cold, overcast January day. There was a little snow, and it made me wonder how on earth anyone survived that weather in this place. To suffer the conditions that so many people did with so little to protect them from the elements, while being treated in such a brutal manner... I'm in awe of the survivors of this place.
The doorway to Dachau reads "Arbeit macht frei", which translates to "Work gives freedom".
Dachau opened in 1933 for prisoners of the state, and ran until it was liberated by the Allies in April of 1945. It was built to hold 6000 men and when it was liberated, there were around 35000. So many men died in this place from all kinds of horrible things
This hallway held "special prisoners". Some of the rooms contain plaques describing things that happened in each room or who was imprisoned there. In the very beginning of the camp, people were taken there and then released. Several people were back and forth between their real lives and Dachau, while others never left or were shuffled to another camp.
Those dark concrete slabs represent the buildings the prisoners lived in. I was surprised by the size of the camp and by how many buildings once stood here. On the other side of the trees to the right were more buildings just like these. There are two buildings that have been rebuilt to show how the prisoners once lived, but the rest are just representations of the buildings.
This plaque at the crematorium encourages visitors to "Remember how we died here"
The gas chamber and crematorium. They were open to walk through and it was a little eerie.
I've always enjoyed history, and have read biographies and stories of people who lived through the Holocaust. I read the Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, and many more stories true and fiction.
Being here was different though. It wasn't just a story, even a true one. This was a place where so many innocent people were murdered, imprisoned, tortured for a truly unjust cause. This happened. We walked in of our own free will and we walked out the same way, but that simply wasn't the case for thousands of others. It was hard to see a place like this and sort of weird to leave and just go on our merry way, but I am thankful that they've left Dachau standing and that people are allowed to walk around. It stands today as a reminder to never repeat what happened on this ground, and as a memorial to those who died in this place.