It was always on my bucket list to visit a Nazi concentration camp. To understand how humans can hate and discriminate to a level where mass killing and total extermination of others based on race, religion and/or social and mental status become acceptable (even legal) in their minds. What is this hatred? How could they go around their daily routines, their joys and their sorrows, knowing that through their decisions and hands so many others are suffering the worst possible treatment that recent history has ever witnessed.
Dachau Concentration Camp, the first concentration camp in Germany, on which all the future camps were modeled. The very atmosphere is sober, quite, still – as if, even after 75 years, the grounds, the buildings, the foundations, the air are traumatized by the atrocities rendered there.
Originally the camp was built to house 5000 prisoners and the number grew over the years – It housed Jews, homosexuals, political prisoners, gypsies, prisoners of war and whomever the Nazi government thought to be disloyal or dangerous to the regime. This is the only camp that operated the full 12 years of the Nazi rule.
It is a place to remember those who suffered, to learn that anything remotely similar should not happen again, and to ponder on the human ability to destruct and unleash evil.
For me Dachau is the most evil, the most inhumane place I have ever witnessed.
“Work will set you free” – The gate seen by all prisoners arriving at Dachau.
A sculpture outside the main building – originally housing prisoner registration , currently the main museum.
The main building – picture taken from where the barracks and infirmary are located. The sculpture can be seen.
Prisoner bunk beds (3 to 1) in the barracks. Only two buildings remain. The others are marked by their foundations. Barracks 3, 5 and 7 (I may be wrong here) housed the infirmary and the death ward. Prisoners who were too ill were not treated but killed at the infirmary.
An example of the barbed (sometimes electric) wires and guard houses set around the perimeter. The edge of these were kill zones. Guards would sometimes throw the caps of the prisoners on the other side and ask them to run and get it. As soon as the prisoners ran towards the edge to retrieve these caps they were shot dead.
The foundations on the ground next to the trees are the barracks. This is the way to the crematory. Also the memorials erected in memory of those who perished in this camp.
Each oven could cremate two to three bodies at a time. Prisoners sentenced to die were hung in front of these ovens.
The gas chambers masked as showers. Around 150 people could be killed in these chambers in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes.
The entrance to the gas chamber – prisoners were killed by prussic acid poison gas (Zyklon B).
I did a German to English translation of the word “Brause bad” written on top of the gas chamber door – it literally means “effervescent bath”.