Daytrip to Dachau

Trip Start Apr 25, 2013
Trip End Nov 02, 2013

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What I did
Dachau Concentration Camp
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A slow start, somber and sorrowful day trip, and sober evening for us today. We met Jason and Matt at Marianplatz for a 1.15pm departure. Todays primary destination, a guided tour to Dachau concentration camp, about 25km northwest of Munich. Dachau was not the biggest concentration camp, but one of the most significant. It is the oldest, and longest running camp of all. It was opened in 1933 and continued for 12 years, the entire duration of the Nazi era, until it was liberated by the Allies at the end of the Second World War in 1945. It was not solely an extermination camp, but a work camp where political prisoners, Jews, Jahovas Witness, criminals, homosexuals, gypsies and anti socialists were forced to work. Still, around 42,000 people died here. Some due to the exhausting nature of work, some due to poor hygiene, poor diet, sickness, trying to escape, torture, starvation or suicide. Some were used for medical experiments, and some were just plain murdered; shot or gassed.
The tour lasted a couple of hours, taking us through many original buildings, with photos, displays and videos of what happened. Our guide was excellent, offering additional information about the Nazi empire, holocaust, the camps, the war, and stories of the people at Dachau. We saw many original buildings, the entry gate, arrival/processing facility guards barracks, kitchens, fencing and guard towers. There were reconstructed prisoner living quarters with original furnishings. The most troubling part of the tour was a visit to the original furnaces and gas chambers. Not a culinary furnace, but one for destroying evidence, burning the corpses of the murdered. The original furnace had room for two, but as the camps became more crowded, a new building was constructed with four furnaces. They burned at four times the temperature, and two bodies could be piled into each at a time. This new building also contained a new feature. Those who were unable to work, or particularly unwanted by the Nazis, were sent here. They were told they were being deported eastward. They were stripped, and told they were to shower, to be sanitized before departure. The door to the 'showering' room was marked as such, and fitted with shower nozzles. People were sometimes even handed shower kits, and ushered into the chamber. Once inside, the doors were sealed, prisoners were forced to deposit poison gas from the outside, and all those within would suffocate, and be exterminated. From here, bodies were dragged to the next room, looted for anything that may be valuable (gold teeth etc.) and dragged to the furnaces in the next room for burning. It was a somber walk, going through this facility, especially the claustrophobic, windowless gas chamber where many met a horrible end. Its hard to comprehend the mindset and cruelty of such a massive group to implement years of horrific persecution.
By bus and train, the tour had us back at Marianplatz around 6pm. Being a beautiful day, we decided to journey north, to the gardens, to look for one of Munichs famous beergardens. Eventually, after much confusion, a fat naked guy, people surfing and swimming in a stream we found such a place. In the English gardens, by the Chinese Tower was a spectacular beer haven. Steins of beer, brass band, thousands of tables and people in the open air. The whole garden complex is massive, lush and beautiful with thousands of people out even well after dark. Beer and food was self service, and very affordable. Steins for 8.5€, get 1€ back for returning the glass. A giant delicious pork knuckle cost me 5€. Whether it was having a big night last night, the heat, sitting next to a weird dog, the sombering Dachau experience, Jason's controversial conversation topics,exhaustion/fatigue from the day or getting a bit lost, it wasn't a late night. Not a bad thing, as tomorrow we have an early start to Neuschwanstein Castle.
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