Recently I was at the KZ in Dachau. It is very impressive and I can only urge everyone to stop there for some hours if you get to the Munich area. The thing is that it is nearly impossible to get the feeling into images, so just go there. Admission is free, donations are welcome, if you come by car/motorcycle/bus there will be a small parking fee.
Still I brought along some images to share. You might realize that most of them have a rather gloomy color scheme, which I think is more fit than the color my camera decided to apply.
Probably one of the two most common images of the KZ Dachau is the gate at the Jourhouse, which was stolen and faithfully recreated in 2014. The famous quote “Arbeit macht frei” greets you when coming here.
Inside the Museum there is a room full of memorial plaques, stones and tablets. The one I picked out is this one bearing the quote “Wo das RECHT gebrochen wird, stirbt die FREIHEIT.” (where JUSTICE is broken, FREEDOM will die). I think this quote is very relevant today, as more and more rights are revoked to “combat terrorism”. As one of the things the memorial site wants to remind people of is “Never Again”, I think this is quite fitting for today.
For me the immensely impressive thing about going to the KZ is the feeling you get at nearly every part of the reconstruction and especially the original things that are present. A large amount of prisoner quotations and images tries to give an impression about what went on here. Trying to imagine what it must have been like is of course a very incomplete thing and at many points I felt myself shutting down.
The KZ Dachau also contains one of the famous shower rooms that were used to poison the prisoners. This facility was never used for its intended purpose, nevertheless the menace behind the scheme is very tangible. This is especially true when you take a look at the level of mechanization which is present in this facility, which was purely implemented to increase performance.
Of course there is also the Krematorium which was used to dispose of the bodies. There is a smaller Krematorium which was initially used, but soon proofed to be incapable of handling the demand. So this new, improved installation was added.
The bunker was used for different things. Solitary confinement, Sonderhäftlinge (special prisoners), Dunkelhaft (keeping prisoners in a dark room with only some water and a small amount of bread, a meal only on every third day), Stehzellen (the already small cells being divided into four sub-cells which were too small for the prisoners to sit down in, still being kept in there for multiple days), cells for Kalfaktoren (prisoners that helped in the running of the KZ). This building is just depressing.
The memorial that tries to show the toil the prisoners lived through in Dachau. Probably the second most taken picture in Dachau.
I really liked the Jewish memorial. I reminded me of a charcoal pile, because of its form and it being build from dark stones. On the top there is a stylized Menora and you can go downwards into a dark, cave-like room which is guarded by two doors crested with the Star of David.
The inside is very impressive. The top contains a hole that provides a view onto the Menora which even though it is built of stone seems to shine a golden ray down to the bottom. Even though it was a cloudy day, the golden impression was quite impressive, I believe this will be even better on a sunny day.
Near the Krematorium there are a number of mass graves, where large numbers of unidentified bodies and a large amount of ashes were found. This area is a very lush green, slightly forested area which is a stark contrast to the rest of the KZ which is kept in subdued/bleak colors.
As a final word, I can only say again that you should visit the site yourself, if you are in the area. Although it is gloomy and you will not enjoy it, the experience is very impressive.