Thursday, April 12, 2012


When we were in Fussein for the night all of our plans were kind of topsy turvy.  We discussed what to do the next day, we decided to go to Dachau in the morning and go to Wurzburg that night.  We went back to Munich, put our luggage in lockers, found a bus to take us to Dachau, and before too long we were there.  Dachau is a beautiful German town, really peaceful, lovely place.  It was hard to imagine a concentration camp being there.  When we got to the concentration camp we were in fairly good moods, I was looking at the old train platforms and train tracks, reading signs and so forth.  We decided that we would not get a tour, since we had children we decided it may be too traumatic for them.  So we decided to have one parent walk around while the other one would go through the museum.  I would highly recommend NOT taking your young children through the museum.

Some back story, when I was in grade school a Holocaust survivor came to our school and talked to us about his time spent in a concentration camp.  He told us before the war Germany was as free as America was today, that a Jewish person was not treated with disrespect and were very happy in Germany.  He talked about how surprised they were when friends would not stand up for them, that they were taken away from their lives.  They didn't leave when they could, because they were too in shock to realize what was happening.  He said that up until they were boarded onto trains they could have left.  But they had no idea what was in store for them.  Now I was young when I heard these things, but it stuck with me, and created a curiosity for the Holocaust.  I read books from survivors, and the Diary of Anne Frank, books about WWII, and several things.  I tried to figure out how such a tragedy could have happened.  My husband, however, never had that curiosity, didn't read books, didn't necessarily seek out information about the Holocaust.  We both decided though, that we should go to the concentration camp and pay respect to those who lost their lives.

Walking into the camp, we split up, I went to the museum first and my husband walked around the camp with the kids.  I was fine in the museum at first, Dachau was not a "death" camp, but it was an experimental camp.  A lot of things that were implemented in other camps were tried at Dachau first.  It was when I got to the part of the museum that talked about these "experiments" that I started feeling nauseated.  I no longer had any desire to learn about how this could have happened, I just wanted it to never happen again to ANYONE!  I got to a point where I could not finish going through the museum, I left.  I found my husband, I wanted to hold  him and my kids forever and never let go.

However, they did not have the traumatic experience I had, my kids wanted to show me around the camp.  So I said good bye to my husband, while he went to the museum, and my kids took me to the barracks.  The barracks they have are not the original ones, those were all torn down.  They do have the foundations for the barracks still there, so you can still get a feeling of just how immense it was.  The barrack they have set up has pictures and some recreations of how it would have been while the camp was in operation.  After reading all that I had read in the museum, I think it was more horrific for me than it was for my kids.  I talked to them about how awful it would have been to have had to live there.  My kids did agree that it would be horrible, but we did not talk about anything too atrocious.  We walked around and my husband came out of the museum looking depressed.  We went to the church they have there, we sat under a tree and tried to let things sink in. My kids during this time found flowers, commented on how beautiful the scenery was.  I was in awe of my kids, all I could see was the tragedy, and they found beauty.  I was glad to have my kids with me, they reminded me of why life is so precious, why it is important to hold life and peace so dear!

Since our experience at Dachau, my curiosity has been quenched, I found Dachau made everything I read come to life in a way that was all too real, which is probably a good thing, since it was real.  My mind does not want to dwell on it anymore.  I really would like to stop it from ever happening again.  My husband had his mind opened and has since been studying more about the Holocaust.  I don't think either of us thought, in our worst nightmares, that the things that happened could have happened.

In short, it is a valuable lesson about humanity and the lack of humanity that can happen.  It is well worth the visit.  For kids, I don't think the museum is appropriate, unless they are significantly older kids.  They will still get a lot out of walking around the camp.