Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dachau, Germany: The Camp That Started it All

September 10, 2009
This blog is a hard to write because it was a hard place to be. This portion of the tip was the most important part for me. I have always had a strong desire to experience a concentration camp because even though my Jewish heritage may be small and they most likely did not live in Germany during the period of the Holocaust, it still affected me along with everyone else during this time and after. So many people were killed during the Holocaust that did not deserve to be. People were killed for being crippled, homosexual, Jewish, Jehovah Witness, Polish, Slovenian, a Gypsy, and so much more. Anyone who did not match up to the standards of the Aryan Race were considered lower than trash. The man who started Dachau was named Heinrich Himmler and it was the first regularly used concentration camp. Auschwitz was based off of this camp. Dachau was used mainly as a forced labor camp and the majority of the people in Dachau were men. When I walked through the gates of the concentration camp, I felt a tears well up in my eyes. I knew this would be a hard, but I did not know how hard until I got there. The tour guide talked about the stones that we were walking on and the square we stood in. Thousands of people took their last steps in that camp. The majority of the people in that camp did not die from being gassed but instead died from the hard labor and little food that they had.
A lot of the concentration camp had been destroyed, but they were able to preserve quite a bit of the camp because although the Nazis would have loved to pretend that the Holocaust had never happened, the other Germans knew the importance of people seeing what had happened and not letting it happen again. There were three memorials at the back of the camp which showed the pain and victory of the people in the camp. It is sad that so many people in the camp never made it to the liberation day. We walked around and saw pictures of the malnourished men being forced to make porcelian. The saddest part about these camps is that they were very nice looking. The beds had to be made perfectly, every corner smoothed. Everything had to be cleaned and shined so that when Red Cross personnel checked the camps, they thought everything was going perfectly normally. If a prisoner's uniform did not meet the standards, if one button was not in the correct place... they would be tortured and killed.
From an ignorant stand point, if someone did not know what had happened in this place, they would see the brick buildings with the perfectly placed shingles and think it was a great place to be. If you payed no attention to the barb wire eletric fences surrounding the camp and the guard towers watching the prisoners every move, you would think it would be a fun place to go to camp. It is sad that the Nazis were able to hide what was going on for so long, that there were so many lives destroyed. The brick stoves that where at the back of the camp where enclosed in a nicely placed building beyond the view of the naked eye. They beautiful German scenary surrounded it with a path that could be walked with green trees and flowers... the prisoners were led through beauty to death. What irony this camp held. With beauty and pain all wrapped up in one awful package! The stoves were quite shallow, but by time the people came to this point they were so frail and thin that 4 or 5 bodies could be stacked on top of one another and thrown into the stove. The bodies were burned and the names of those people almost ceased to exist as well.
This camp really opened my eyes up to how much one man can do. One person (Hitler) who had so much intelligence, almost destroyed an entire group of people (the Jews). As I was walking through and seeing all that had happened in that place, I was numb of any emotion. After I allowed the tears to fall, I walk like a zombie for hours. I felt as if I knew a tiny bit of how those people felt, although it is not at all possible for me to do it completely.

Everyone needs to go to and experience a concentration camp at least once in their lives. It will truly change you. It is uncomfortable and it is not enjoyable, but it is necessary for us to have the images engraved in our minds so that will never forget and never allow it to happen again.

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