Thursday, May 7, 2009

Never Again

We visited a place called Dachau today. It was formerally a World War II concentration camp. The camp in Dachau was the first concentration camp set up in Germany. Originally designed for political prisioners and those who posed a threat to the Nazi party, the camp was to become a living nightmare for Jews, Gypsies, Jehovahs witnesses, homosexuals, and people of a wide variarity of nationalites. The Dachau camp provided the model on which the notorious Auschwitz death camp was constructed.
Going to a place like this is a disturbing remider of the capabilites of human beings. The holocaust goes way beyond 'normal' violations of human rights and dignity. It was systematic, industrised murder. Economic incentives for some high ranking members of the Nazi Party such as Hilmar Wäckerle, Heinrich Wicker, and Wilhelm Weiter were some of the original motives for creating a slave labour camp. Total authority for the Nazi Party was a top priority, and under this premise the camps quickely desended to places of human degradation and terror.
We decided to take a guided tour of the camp. Our guide Steven (which is also the same name as our cat!) was very knowledgable, and he took us through the process which prisoners would be initaiated through. Starting with the SS intergation room, moving on the the shower and de-lousing room, main courtyard, the cramped barracks', the crematorium and finally the gas chamber (dubbed barracks X). As you walk though a place like this you can feel the history. There is an erie sense of stillness, dispite the German school childern milling about (who are required to visit the site by the curriculum). Steven spoke of the process of removing the individual from the self and of the desensitization the prisoners endured in order to cope. It was as much physical pain as psychological which haunted those who were incarcerated here.

"Arbeit macht frei" are the words on the entrance gate, meaning in English "Work will set you free." This was on all concentration camps front gates. Its designated intent was to begin the dehuminazation process. It assumes that thoses who pass though these gates are somehow inferior or unworthy of the full rights of human beings. In some twisted sense of baseless justification it aussumes it was the prisoners fault as to why they ended up here... but with hard work and sacrifice they may be redeemed, both physically and spiritually. These words are in line with Nazi ideology and their ideals of racial superiority.

Overall, we were glad to visit this historical site. At the end, Steven really emphasized that the intent of the tour was not to serve a reminder of what happend in the past, but to ensure that something like this will 'never again' happen.


  1. Though I never comment on your blog (sometimes with dictionary ready on my lap :)), I do enjoy it. You guys seem to have fun all the time. I have seen some photo of this camp, but yours along with the simple explanation make me understand better. Oh, thanks to Steven the Guide, too. So, how's Steven the cat?

  2. hey J & D
    How very interesting!!! I would really like to see something like that one day!!!
    Oh btw henny.....Steven the cat is doing well.. I am baby sitting him!!!!

  3. Hale, you write beautifully.
    Must have been a surreal experience to be there. Hope you both are having an amazing time and cant wait to hear more!! Miss you lots.
    Hi Jack!!! What did you do with the green hornet???
    AKA - Little woman

  4. I dont know how to post as me... so i will just stay Anonymous :)

  5. I've heard lots of stories of people visiting the concentration camps.
    At the moment i'm reading the boy in striped Pajamas.
    It's so sad.

    I hope your enjoying your trip!!!


  6. Thanks for all the lovely comments!!!!

    Turnip head- Did you now they released the movie as well? I heard it was sad so I avoided it :(

  7. I think our teacher wants us to watch it too.
    So were going to put it to a vote, I secretly hope that we don't go I can't stand movies like that, its to sad.

  8. I was interested to read about your trip to Dachau. I went to Aushwitz when I was in Poland and it was one of the most upsetting and unforgetable days of my life. The most awful part was the rooms full of hair and glasses that had been taken from the prisoners. We were three girls together and we barely said a word to each other all day - it was so unbeliveable and overwhelming. I'm not sure I could go somewhere like that again but I don't regret going when I did. I think it was an important thing to do and really brought home to me what had happened and how recent it was. The kids on school trips really shocked me - they were all laughing and mucking about and not really taking any notice of where they were. Hope the ones on your trip weren't like that.
    On a related note, I don't know if you are going to Amsterdam but if you do I recommend Anne Frank's house - another extremely moving but important experience.

  9. I saw cell like this in Krakow(poland).very very impressive.I think you should also go to poland.I don't know may be you went....This is so hıstorical country...