No words can express the experience of being near a place such as Dachau. The sheer weight of it, the gravity of the history encased within the walls and fences of this site of unimaginable tragedy is enough to pound a person’s spirit into the earth. Dachau was the first concentration camp in Germany, built originally to hold political prisoners and religious dissidents, though it soon evolved into a place packed full of any people deemed undesirable by those in power. Dachau was the site of vicious experiments on prisoners, of starvation, disease and daily tragedy. Over 30,000 people died in Dachau, and visitors to the camp can still feel the power of the atrocities committed in this place.
There is a sign near the entrance to the site of the gas chamber and crematorium that simply reads: “Remember How We Died Here”. This lonely epitaph serves as a most poignant reminder that mankind is quick to forget the travesties that have been committed not so very long ago, and that we should be reminded of what can happen when the entire world turns a blind eye to the suffering of their fellow man.
The remains of the original platform near the train tracks, where prisoners were herded like cattle through the gates.
The original train tracks, now rusted and dilapidated, lay just outside the gates.
Many thousands of people walked through these gates, never to walk through them again.
“Work Makes You Free”
A watchtower, once filled with guards and lights and machine guns, sits high above the gate.
The processing facility, where prisoners were first stripped of their dignity.
Hung above these scarred floors, men were tortured, beaten and experimented upon. The troughs visible in the background once contained water used to wash away the bloody remnants of pain and suffering.
One of the few remaining uniforms, actually worn by a prisoner in Dachau.
There were private barracks reserved for clergy and important political figures, whom the guards treated with a certain level of respect, for fear of a mass revolt by the prisoners who felt that these men deserved special treatment.
A guard tower still stands. Visitors are never allowed inside, because no one should ever stand where the oppressors stood, looking down on their fellow man.
Just outside the walls, a quiet neighborhood still exists, with residential windows overlooking the camp.
A “Pillbox” which once held a machine gun nest. Very little is known about this pillbox, as there is no record of this sort of defensive installation ever being placed in the camp grounds.
Vines now grow over the barbed wire on the walls around Dachau.
The wet sand inside the compound, the daily view of thousands, who were ordered to never look up.
Though the barracks are now gone, the foundations remain, each in its original location, as a memorial to all who suffered here.
The original crematorium. A larger one was constructed soon after this model was deemed unfit.
Guards would herd people into these shower chambers, packing them completely full.
Outside the showers, hatches open, which were to allow guards to drop gas grenades into the room with the prisoners, closing the hatches behind them.
Though there is no record of these being used as anything other than drains, these drains are connected to a gas line, which would have allowed gas to filter into the shower chamber from the floor.
Another, larger incinerator, this one built by the forced labor of the clergymen of the camp.
The clergymen are believed to have sabotaged the construction of the crematorium by mixing too much sand with the mortar, causing the building to crumble multiple times during construction. Evidence can still be seen of their intentionally poor craftsmanship.
Crematorium. “Think of How We Died Here”
The barbed wire separating the main camp from the crematorium site.
The eerie reflection of a guard tower, still watching over the camp.
New growth, even amidst the cobblestones and rubble of this weighty, important place.