It seemed a bit ironic…

…that I was reading The Book Thief (for our Book Club here in Barcelona) while we, as a family were staying in Munich. We arrived in Munich in time to visit their holiday market, but had a full day ahead of us, the next day, to explore the city.  So much to see and so little time!  There’s the BMW museum… there’s the Stadtmuseum that we could spend days in exploring… and there was Dachau.   So with one day, we took a vote and unanimously, we all agreed that we wanted to go to Dachau.  Emma had already read The Boy in The Striped Pajamas this summer.  Both kids had read Number the Stars and all have read The Diary of Anne Frank.  So naturally, there were lots of questions and a lot of curiousity. I cautiously was worried about what they might see and whether we would all leave having nightmares.

As Markus Zusak’s main character/narrator says, “I am haunted by Humans.”

“It is 1939, Nazi Germany.  The country is holding its breath.  Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.”

It was an ominous day.  The sky was overcast and a dingy grey, much like the wall surrounding Dachau.  We arrived and spent a good 4 hours watching a movie and taking a guided tour through the camp.  We heard stories of the many, many, many people who were brought to Dachau and killed.  We saw pictures, heard about the torture.. saw the gas chambers, the fireplaces.. the bunkbeds… it was all so horrendously awful.  It amazes me how one person can influence so many people.  And Hitler never even visited any of the concentration camps!  He just influenced others to do what they were doing!  Hungering for power and control, gypsies, Jewish people, political dissidents, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps all over Europe.

The approach to Dachau. Just 10 miles away from Munich. At its peak, the camp held 10,000 prisoners. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp to open (March 22, 1933.)

On either side of these trees would have been bunkhousees.. everything would have been immaculately kept.

In front of this in the Spring and Summer would have been beautiful flower beds. But in this building was where the victims were tortured.

 

 

Over 30,000 prisoners died at Dachau.

 

 

 

This is the gas chamber and crematorium. They would have the victims enter in one side and then they would undress, step in to the showers and then be cremated. Dachau is the only concentration camp to still have the showers intact. Although many arugue whether they were ever put to use at Dachau.

 

 

If you haven’t read The Book Thief, I encourage you to do so. It’s so beautifully written.  While I get chills going through these images again, I want to conclude this post with another book, The Flower Man.  I know, I talk about this too much with those of you who know me.. but if we can spread kindness and love, hopefully we can squelch out the horror that existed in Nazi Germany.

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