Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What is lovely about travelling

Picture taken by Suzanne:)
This was the first time I extended my stay and did a spot of sight-seeing. I've forgotten how nice it is to do nothing but plan the next fun thing and sit in anticipation as you get closer your destination. This is me. The picture is courtesy of SL( Many thanks! Cos I look half decent here. And that's saying a lot considering the hard-water-hair-fiasco) We were en route to Dachau Concentration camp. SL was the person interested in visiting this camp. I have no regrets. It was an eye-opener.

We got our tickets from the tourist office at the Central station. Very helpful staff who spoke excellent English and was patient with our questions. We booked tickets for the following afternoon as well as tickets for visiting Kind Ludwig's Palaces and the Lake district.

The next day around nopn, we took the U-bahn from Haufbanhof central station and met the group.( They met at Marientplatz.) Due to some hiccup, the tour guide was unable to come get us. It worked out well. A rather small group. ( Except for 2 other people, I suspect everyone else was also in Munich with the purpose of attending the ERS.)

Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp. It lies 10 miles northwest of Munich and whatever Hitler experimented here and worked, became used in all other concentration camps around Germany. We saw the gate leading to the camp.

The entrance to Dachau Concentration camp
Can you see what is written on the gate? "Arbeit Macht Frei" which translates to "Work will se you free." What an irony. ( And untruth!) This was a concentration camp. You walked through this gate without knowing when ( if at all) you will be released. You became known as a number. And your life changes forever. Work was done, but the majority were tortured and made to work and some were used for experiments. the housing conditions were also very sad. ( see picture below)

As the numbers increased, the bed situation became more cramped. And due to lack of heating, during the winter, the prisoners would huddle together for warmth. Can you imagine what a sad life this was? Can you imagine the agony and the suffering and the lack of hope as the days passed?

According to our guide, each room had a leader called " the elder". Not necessarily the oldest in the group. The SS men would ask the Elder to pick someone from the group to be punished. That must have created a bit of politics. And cause hatred and foster ill-will among these prisoners.  The SS would punish the group should the floors not be clean and shiny, or the beds or pillows not put in orderly fashion.

The grounds
The prisoners were lined here for daily roll calls. Some lasted for many hours. And these poor men ( Dachau was a concentration camp for men. They had separate concentration camps for women.) had little clothing and shoes. They must have suffered badly during the winter months.

The long walk
To the left and right of this road are marks of where the barracks used to be. Standing like so, the main building would be behind you. And that is where the kitchen was. Subtle ways the Jews were treated a little bit more harshly was like so. They were housed in the barrack furthest away from the kitchen. Making it a very long walk to any meal. Possibly with little food left by the time they arrive.  The prisoners were tagged not just with numbers, but with emblems like a girl guide. You may have more than one.And this was another way the SS knew which prisoners were Jews/ homosexuals/prisoners of war etc

This visit saw us doing a lot of walking. My legs were tired and the body just crying out for bed. As I walked, i imagine what it must have been like for the poor prisoners and their very sad lives during this period. Dachau concentration camp had a serene atmosphere outside. The main building where the original walls and lights were had a very very sad atmosphere. As I walked and read the posters and pictures in that area, I was disturbed by what humans are capable of doing to another human. 

I found my trip an empowering one.


Anna, Fair and True said...

I really want to go there some day too. I think it should almost be obligatort for everyone in Europe to visit a concentration camp in order never to forget.

edina monsoon said...

It was a very good experience. I have no regrets going there. I'm now much more aware of what the SS did to so many innocent people.