Monday, September 21, 2009

Dachau, Germany

Dachau is the most charming imaginable Bavarian village. Bakeries perfume the air with the scent of pastries and breads, houses with high-pitched roofs of russet tile dot the skyline. People are polite and friendly, the word "quaint" keeps stumbling to the tip of ones tounge.

On the outskirts of town is the Dachau concentration camp museum. We traveled there by cab, our cab driver was an elderly German man who was literally moved to tears as he told us of the evil that had taken over his beloved country and caused a place such as this to exist.

I entered with an open mind and heart, and was amazed to feel the oppression that seemed to be surrounding me in the very air I breathed. The museum was wonderfully, honestly and simply presented. "Here are the facts," the displays seemed to say. "This is what happened." No excuses. Photos and words and atmosphere blended to suck the energy from the space, from my body, from my soul. I could barely speak. And on I went, reading each paragraph, viewing each photo, absorbing the facts of the numbers of humans who lived and died in such unspeakable horror.

It was a relief to go outside... but then there were the barracks and the religious memorials and the crematoriam to view and absorb. The empty row upon row where barracks full of imprisoned humans once stood. More than I could have imagined.

My father and my husbands father were both GI's in WWII. This war that forever changed their lives changed the lives of others in ways I had never before fully grasped until now. I have walked the ground where evil dwelled.

Outside the gates to the prison camp is a sign of thanks to the troops that freed the prisoners of this camp. Inside the gates is a memorial containing the ashes of an unknown prisoner. Behind it the words, "NEVER AGAIN" are printed in raised, bronze letters, in many languages. How many times until those words are truely true?

I wept on the grounds of the prison camp. My tears joining the millions of tears that landed there before mine. This place should be a river.


Cottagecheap said...

oh honey!

Jeannine said...

You have walked the land where hope was lost & hope prevailed. Did you notice that when you walk across the bridge through the the crematorium &/or gas chambers all sounds die away into silence? Even the birds...