Thursday, June 17, 2010


Today it is gray and rainy just outside Munich, which is quite fitting for our morning detour. The weather mirrored the somber tone of our trip to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site. Although it certainly wasn't a joyful visit, I am glad that we got to go and experience it for ourselves.

Anyone who says they aren't affected by Dachau is lying. It is impossible to see the site, read and hear the stories, and look at the memorials. We had audioguides, which were only 2.50 euros, and they were definitely essential to fully experiencing the site. You could wander around on your own and key in the area that you were at. Many of the buildings are reconstructed replicas of originals because the concentration camp was used for other purposes after its liberation. Nonetheless, the memorial does an excellent job of preserving the historical integrity of the original site (which sounds odd to say that a concentration camp had integrity) and respecting those who were tortured and executed at the camp.

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part of the whole site is the crematorium, which was once sectioned off from the main barracks. There are graves of ashes of who knows how many people, once discarded but now memorialized outside the crematorium. Barrack X sits in the middle of the area, and it was basically intended to be a death house. There are gas chambers and ovens, and almost immediately I had to walk out. You are almost overcome by a sickening feeling, knowing and sensing what once took place in those rooms. It was important to me to go in, but it was impossible to stay very long.

We could have stayed at the site and museum for hours, but time in Munich said that we needed to leave. Its something that, like this whole trip, I will never forget, but now it is time to move onto a more joyful note. We are going on a 2.5 hour bike tour around the city, which will hopefully be a good way to see Munich in the few hours that we have here. Then it's time to experience a real German beer house and get some more German food, yum!

Love and bikes galore,

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