Monday, August 12, 2013


The real reason for leaving the sun and food of Italy and going back over the Alps to Munich was to drive from there to Bayreuth where K had some meetings. 

Leaving Munich in drizzly rain we went first to Dachau, just off the A9, and on the way - as if Dachau is on the way to anywhere. For all that one reads, or sees, or hears, or is warned about, this hideous place remains as something that can only be experienced. There are few words if any, except those of the survivors, that suffice. We hardly spoke in the hours we were there; it is unspeakable. I was tempted to say inhuman, but the bald fact of it is that is is human. It is what humans do. That's the horror of it. And it is silent. And empty, a completely empty godless place.

(The assembly area with the maintenance building beyond, with the admission room and bath house on the right, all now major memorial exhibition rooms)

All entry and exit was through the gates in the Jourhaus, notoriously claiming "Arbeit Macht Frei".

It is well to start with and seek some consolation at the International Memorial just inside the Jourhaus.

The camp, a model for all others, was essentially a double row of barracks (34 in total of which two have been reconstructed) divided by the camp road which now runs towards the religious memorials and convent. Initially designed for 6,000, there were over 30,000 (some list more than 60,000) when the Americans arrived in April 1945. Block 3 was the realm of appalling Rascher and his medical atrocities.

There is now a crossing at the far end of the camp, over the water ditch and through the barbed wire, into the vastly bigger area that was the SS training ground, headquaters and barracks. Immediately beyond the first line of trees is the crematorium building whose rooms I would discover were not all for ovens, oh no. To my unexpected horror there is one huge room in which were piled the dead awaiting cremation, and another the most dreadful sickening proto gas chamber.

1 comment:

Susan Scheid said...

You've caught it all with this: "It is what humans do. That's the horror of it. And it is silent. And empty, a completely empty godless place." We want to believe that whoever did this was 'other,' but we must remember always that it is not the case.