Never forget

Trip Start Dec 30, 2006
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, April 6, 2007

World history has touched the Munich area and it hasn't always been pleasant.

It was in Munich that the Nazi party rose to power and it was in Dachau, now a suburb of Munich, that the Nazi's set up their first concentration camp.  It was the camp that would serve as a training ground and example for all the others to follow. Open for twelve years, the longest of any of the camps, it was the last to be liberated, due to its location in southern Germany.

I took a guided tour with transportation from Munich operated by a private company but I wouldn't recommend it. I thought it would be like Auschwitz, which is difficult to get to from Krakow, especially with public transportation. I realized afterward that Dachau is right on the commuter rail line and very easy to get to via pubic transportation. In addition, the museum and memorial site have lots of English signs and very cheap audio guides available. I could have saved myself 20€, did it myself, and still got the same information the tour guide provided.

The Dachau camp was originally built for political prisoners and anyone else who opposed the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. In the lead to, and during, the war it was primarily used for slave labour, mostly for a few BMW factories nearby building plane engines. A couple of the old wartime BMW factories near the camp are still standing (but long vacated) near Dachau. They are visible on the way to the camp, another stark reminder of the history of the region. The true extermination camps, where located in Poland but, still, over 30,000 people where murdered here...

When the workers where no longer deemed 'fit to work' they would usually be sent to Auschwitz or another concentration camps to be murdered. That began to change near the end of the war when Germany was losing ground and a larger crematorium was built on-site to handle the rising number of murders taking place on site.

Visiting the site was very sobering. Sometimes it is hard to believe that this much planning and effort went into killing, literally, millions of innocent people. A rather dramatic display in the Dachau museum showed the network of concentration camps and labour camps at the peak of their existence.

It is just mind boggling that such a system could have been implemented with so many people involved - implicit or not...with the sole reason being the elimination of millions of people. It is unthinkable that such a thing was allowed to happen in such a relatively short period of time.

The truly sad thing is that genocide and mass murders are still happening in our day and age in certain countries. I guess I'll never understand how anybody can condone such a thing or find justification in those who do. 
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