Journal Entry from Dachau Concentration Camp

Standing in front of fences and guard tower.

Standing in front of a long fence and guard tower.

18 May 2013:

I’m sitting next to the crematorium. The smoke stack is above me nearly blocking the sun. I’m sitting behind the building so there are no people around. A small Jewish memorial is on my right, coated in Hebrew: sacred verses from the Torah. The sun is pleasant, the area lush and green, the brick building in front of me clashes with the peaceful surroundings.
Sitting alone behind the crematorium.

Sitting alone behind the crematorium.

I can’t help but try to imagine myself here. Would I have given up at the start, knowing survival was futile? Or would I have found some reason (any reason) to keep fighting? Would I have survived the aftermath of re-entering society amidst feelings of survivors’ guilt? Would I have felt anger at the world for moving on like before?
Such a peaceful location except for the barbed wire...

Such a peaceful place, except for the barbed wire…

As I walk through the crematoriums, looking at the ashes still in the furnaces, I feel distant-that there is no way I could even come close to imagining what it was like. But when I entered the “showers” – where prisoners were gassed – with the low ceilings, the windowless walls, and gas vents lining the ceiling, walls, and floor, I felt claustrophobic. For some reason,  this was more imaginable: normal people standing in the dark waiting for water that would never come.
At the Dachau Jewish Memorial

At the Jewish Memorial

How could this happen? How does it still happen today in Darfur, Burma, Syria? Today I feel no anger at the German people because they are just like me. I simply remind myself that this could happen to any nation. And it has happened in one way or another, in one time period or another, in every nation on this earth. It happens when history is not studied, applied, avoided and I pray for the days when this all ends!
International Monument

International Monument

Standing in the center of the courtyard where role call was held, I noticed flowers on the Barrack #21 stone marker. Who knew enough to know specifically Barrack #21? A descendant, a family member, a friend, a survivor? I watch the visitors around me: some young families with hyper children, students with their cameras and backpacks, elderly couples bent over with age and holding hands; each experiencing, learning, mourning, remembering in their own way.
The flowers at Barrack #21

The flowers at Barrack #21

Today I saw the train tracks, the barbed fences, the entrance gate with “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Labor Makes You Free). I saw the guard towers, the SS offices, the “medical” facilities. I walked through the sleeping barracks with beds stacked and lined close together. I saw the Jewish memorial, the International Monument, and walked the camp road. I’ve tried (and failed) to imagine myself here: with no family, possessions, rights, dignity…hope. All I can do is pray I will not forget, promise I will fight tyranny, and live a life of meaning.”
"Labor Makes You Free"

“Labor Makes You Free”

I video-taped walking through the crematorium and gas chamber for you:


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One Response to Journal Entry from Dachau Concentration Camp

  1. Pingback: SALZBURG: Creepy Catacombs, Sound of Music Sites, and Cathedrals | Bring Me That Horizon

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