We’re currently on the bus having just left Dachau, and I’m going to be real with you: I’m pretty shaken up. I expected to be of course, but still.
I’ve spent a lot of the past five years or so studying Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. So it’s not that what I saw in Dachau was necessarily ‘news’ to me. But it was still shocking.
It was shocking to enter the reconstructed bunkhouse and see the room four hundred men were forced to squeeze into.
It was shocking to cross the parade ground where prisoners were tortured, humiliated, and even died.
It was shocking to stand in a room that would once have been filled with bodies waiting to be cremated.
It was shocking to stare at the ovens used to cremate the bodies of those who died, because by the 1940s so many people were dying they couldn’t keep burying them.
It was shocking to walk inside a gas chamber, which, although it wasn’t used on the same scale as those in Auschwitz, was designed to kill. Hatting a
It was shocking to enter a place where thousands of people were treated like sub-human and where so many died, only forty five minutes from Munich.
It was shocking to see so many people acting with such disrespect – posing for photos in front of the gate, the bunkhouses, even the crematorium, stretching their arms to get the perfect selfie, chatting and laughing away in cheeky shorts and singlet tops (which it’s NOT hot enough to justify) as they walked through a place that once held so much suffering. It felt wrong to me to take photos inside the camp, I only took one of the gatehouse as we entered.
It was shocking to see how many people lack the perspective and empathy to understand what a place like Dachau symbolises, to step outside their own worlds for just a moment and truly comprehend the suffering so many people experienced.
It was shocking to see so many people treat it as another bucket list stop, somewhere else to traipse through on a long list of destinations between their morning and the night.
It was shocking to see people chatting away about luxury hotels, clubbing, and shopping only moments after leaving the gates of the camp.
Dachau was thoroughly shocking, and I think everyone should have to experience it, or one of the other concentration camps.
Because it’s not just a tourist destination, and it’s not just another historical landmark. And I’m shocked more people didn’t realise that.