While I have a plethora of blogging ideas hanging out in the back of my mind right now, I feel that there isn’t a more appropriate time to post this one. With International Holocaust Remembrance Day being just yesterday and (unfortunately) the current situation folding out in the United States, I really need to talk about this.
First off, I want to be clear that this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “travel review”. Visiting this memorial and museum was a highly sobering experience and it would be incredibly inappropriate, in my view, to rank it and comment on the quality of service, food, etc. a la “OMG, this was the best way to spend our afternoon. Be sure to bring a picnic blanket and bottle of wine! 5 stars!” No, I’m not doing that today. So if you’re looking for something like that, please move on. You aren’t going to get that out of me.
During my time in Munich this past summer, I made visiting Dachau a priority. If there was one single thing that I was going to see in Munich, the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site was it. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I spent a large portion of my childhood learning about the European Campaign of World War II, and visiting memorial sites such as Dachau and Normandy has been a massive priority of mine when in Europe. I could not pass up on the chance to visit this memorial.
Dachau is located shockingly close to Munich. Specifically, it is about a 20-minute train ride from Central Munich. I was absolutely floored to find this out. That said, it does make visiting this site quite accessible when doing the normal tourist path through Bavaria. To get to Dachau from Munich you will need to take the S2 Dachau/Petershausen S-Bahn train from Munich Hauptbahnhof. Once you arrive at the Dachau train station, you need to take the 726 Saubachsiedlung bus to the Memorial site. The name of the memorial site is KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau, so be sure to follow these signs.
Dachau was the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazis in 1933. It served as the guinea pig and testing grounds for other concentration camp developments. By 1937, Dachau held about 13,260 prisoners. It remained in operation for the duration of the Third Reich and was used as a labour camp and evacuation center for other concentration camps that were close to being, or had been, liberated. Dachau was surrendered to American troops on April 29, 1945, and at the point of liberation there were an estimated 30,000 prisoners being held at the camp. It is estimated that the number of prisoners that passed through Dachau exceeds 188,000. It is also estimated that at least 28,000 people died at Dachau.
My experience at Dachau was quite sobering and eye opening. It is really hard to put into words exactly how you feel walking through the concentration camp site and crematorium area, seeing the replications of the bunks, looking at the photos, reading the stories, seeing the jail cells and so on… It is truly a heartbreaking and haunting experience. Despite this, I soaked up every piece of information, photo, memorial, and site I came across. I feel that it is so important to remember the lives of those lost, learn about what happened and how it happened. If we don’t take the time to remember and learn about what happened then, I fear we won’t be able to stop it from happening again until it is too late.
Like I said at the beginning of this blog, I’m really not going to be “reviewing” the Dachau Memorial at all. Instead of discussing my visit at length, I will just leave you with these photos. Truly, I cannot put into words how powerful and equally heartbreaking my visit at Dachau was. I really highly recommend that you take the time to visit when you are in Munich. Thousands of people walked through the gates of this camp and were subject to some of the most cruel treatment and conditions imaginable. With that in mind, I strongly urge you to take the time to visit, pause, remember, and honour those who suffered at the hands of their fellow humans.
Stay tuned for some more uplifting, inspirational, and hilarious travel blogs from yours truly in the (hopefully) not so distant future. No guarantees for anything soon though guys, this school stuff sure is a doozy.