Travel Diaries: “Forgiving is not equal to Forgetting” Dachau Concentration Camp

We were in Munich from April 3-6 and we decided to go to Dachau Concentration Camp after rehearsals, which is around an hour away from Munich using the tram-train-bus. I went with Will, Gorby, Dom, Ave and Kyle and after a few minutes of deciding whether they should get the group ticket (they eventually did), off we went!

As I said in my last post, I’m an avid “fan” of two things: anything about WWII and commuting systems. Going to Dachau meant going past the Inneraum and since we were trying to rush to get there (to get to the BMW Welt on time afterwards — which was a complete failure), I had to check which routes were possible. All the other guys were just following me. I was feeling giddy HAHA

ANYWAY, while on the bus to the camp itself, we were all pretty quiet. I guess we were all anticipating what it’ll actually be like when we got there and it’s depressing to say that it was much worse. The weather decided to go along with our emotions that day and it was drizzling, windy and grey clouds loomed.

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This greeted us when we got off the bus

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Pathway towards the camp. This was actually where the train tracks used to be, trains full of Jews

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 The real entrance to the concentration camp

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All of the Jewish prisoners of the camp passed through this gate. “Arbeit Macht Frei” can be translated to “Work Shall Set You Free”. As I’m pretty sure everyone who has taken up at least high school world history should know, it’s somewhat an ironic phrase because many of those prisoners who passed through these gates were never able to pass through it again.

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This huge area was where roll-calls were made everyday. Those buildings on the left was where some of the Jews stayed.

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The buildings on the right side used to be the maintenance building

I decided to take my own route and look around by myself. I started with the memorial places put up by different countries and organizations.

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 “May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men.”

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 At the end is the Jewish memorial. I wasn’t able to walk until the end due to time constraints and the weather forced me to go inside the barracks as soon as possible after staying outside for almost 20 minutes.

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 The entrance to the barracks. This was where the Jews spent their short free time after dinner. This was also where they slept.

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The Nazis built these beds using the measurements of an average person. It didn’t matter if you were taller or shorter than these beds. You get the same one as everyone else’s.

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 These bunkers were made only to house a few hundred of people. As WWII continued, they had to house thousands of Jews in this cramped room. 

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 These beds weren’t only a place to sleep or rest. It was their personal space as well, ones that the Nazi officers checked every morning. The Jews were required to make their beds and clean their spaces every morning and anything the Nazi officers see not to their liking, even a single strand of hair on the bed or bed sheets slightly crumpled, were subject to punishment.

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 Only one wash area with two sinks yet used for so many people.

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 Eight toilets and the same with the sinks, were used by a number of people.

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The former maintenance building is now the museum which houses the permanent exhibition.

I decided to go the exhibition now and just like how I was when I went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I tried reading and looking at all the pictures, videos, artifacts and short paragraphs they had.

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 A weekly-newspaper that proclaimed anti-Semitism essays.

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 One of the pictures inside the exhibition. Jews were required to publicly profess their Jewish lineage. 

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 Prisoners were required to put these badges on their uniforms depending on what applied to them.

I couldn’t take pictures of everything anymore and when I eventually finished the exhibition, I went to one of the buildings which was the former bunker. This was where they tortured prisoners in their own cells. When I entered the building, a group of three people were on their way out and I saw that there was no one else inside. It gave me chills but I continued. I listened to one of the audio areas of the place, recounting their experience in this exact place and how they were tortured. I couldn’t finish listening to it because it was too morbid to even think about. I walked further inside.

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This was the corridor when I went in further. This was also how it looked on the left side. The rooms inside those doors were cells and descriptions of what took place in it. After I passed through three doors and read, I literally ran out of the building because I got to scared. Scared thinking about what exactly happened in that building and even more scared because I was alone in my thoughts and the place.

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 This was right outside of the building. During WWII, due to the number of people they killed in the concentration camps, they piled up bodies on the sides of these buildings (where the grass is now).

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 The Jourhouse, the entrance and exit of the camp.

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 I was the first one out from the 6 of us and unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the gas chambers.

I left with such a heavy heart. I still can’t imagine the atrocity of the act done by the Nazis to different kinds of people all because they were not fit or right for the Aryan race. As I learned in our History 166 class under Sir Tirol, these memorial places serve as a reminder of the past, of what shouldn’t happen again. Forgiving is never equal to forgetting. Even though it’s hard to accept these events in the past, it should be remembered so that future generations will never repeat what has already happened.

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3 thoughts on “Travel Diaries: “Forgiving is not equal to Forgetting” Dachau Concentration Camp”

  1. I DID see the gas chambers…….called “shower rooms.” I felt the ghosts. There were some teen agers in our group. We did not have to warn them to be quiet and respectful. The only sound we heard from them was the sound of sobs from a young girl sitting on the steps in front of the sculpture by Picasso.

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