Friday, May 12, 2017

No words to say...

In it all, I think this was the worst. The execution wall.

                                         How many innocent people had this as their last view?

A room of beautiful pieces of personal remembrance. One was a little black and white photo, with coloured photos added round it. They were pinned on nothing more than a corkboard. It was for Dad, then granddad, then great granddad - with love from the generations he never lived to see.

The sculpture below is an artist impression of that famous photograph taken by the liberation forces,
a jumble of skeletal arms and legs.

The tree lined avenue where the prisoners could  enjoy a little free time and rest.

The accommodation blocks were flattened by the Americans, they are now marked by white pebbles bordered by light grey bricks. As all of the Dachau work camp is now a memorial site, we saw many people carry flowers to the remnants of a particular block, lay their wreath, say a prayer  then walk away.  

                                                             the first memorial

                                           the scale of the camp is almost unimaginable

                                                 a beautiful memorial

                                                that allowed the sun to shine through

                                                    and a church of reconciliation
       the moat- a common form of suicide was to jump it. being shot was a quick death at least.

we crossed a bridge

to a lovely wood with a Russian church

and a memorial ...

a benign looking hut in the wood

lovely woods to walk through
a sense of the horror to come

the infamous crematorium...

from the outside as it is now

and as it was then

the room where they were gathered

and through to the 'showers'
the 'shower room ', the false shower heads are still there, the small hole in the wall was where the canister of gas was placed.
the room where they gathered the deceased

the crematorium itself. Near the end of the war they had to stop using it as they had ran out of coal.

The crossbeam above is where they hanged other victims.

After liberation, the residents of the village were walked through the camp so they would know what had been going on . I was always taught that they knew, and turned a blind eye. Having seen it I am not so sure. It could have looked like any interment camp. And if they did know, what could they do?

Monument to the dead.

The entrance gates to the site.

And what we returned to..

It was in many ways as awful as you would expect it to be. But the memories of that are swamped by the stories of the brave, the humanitarian, those that risked their lives to steal food to keep their friends, or total strangers, alive or gave their clothes so another lived for another day without succumbing to the cold. And that was the overwhelming feeling. That good triumphs and the human spirit is, in many ways, indomitable.

A reinforcement of life.

Caro Ramsay  12 05 2017


  1. There will always be individuals who will think it was a good idea, who would like to replicate it. But the rest of us, and as a society, may we never forget. There is far more good in the world than bad, and may it ever be that way.

  2. Well done, Caro. I first visited Dachau about four years ago when we visited friends in Munich. One was a US born son of a GI stationed in Germany after WWII, the other the daughter of a German farmer. They insisted we see it. Thought they lived in Munich, he'd not been back in many years, his first visit having been with his father in the late 40s, and that's the image burned into his memory.

    When I saw it, the place looked much as you show it--and it is moving--but my friends say the place has been modified, made more antiseptic. Great mounds of hair, glasses and other effects taken from the prisoners no longer are on exhibit. It is now more a photo exhibit.

    Yes, we should never forget...including that Dachau was among the very first things Hitler did once assuming power--to incarcerate those he saw as his political enemies.

    Thank you.

  3. Keeping these memories is our species only hope of the triumph of our better selves. Thank you Cara. As those Italian students I visited last winter displayed all over their school: "Di non dimenticare" NEVER TO FORGET.

  4. I was dreading going to see it, yet felt it was disrespectful not to go in as were driving within three miles of it.
    We were both very quiet as we parked the van, paid our car park fee, walked towards the entrance. I said, jokingly 'Well this is one place we aren't going to get a coffee and a bun.' And then I saw the sign for the café. And that took me by surprise.

    I know Auschwitz still has the displays of glasses and shoes but you are right, they are no longer at Dachau.
    Dachau has made itself very accessible, they go out their way to engage youth and to teach them what happened there and why. And that is admirable.

    Would it be less emotionally accessible if it had the shoes, the teeth of those who had perished there? Maybe some people can't get past the shock and the horror of it all.

    I don't know the answer to that, or even if that what was in the minds of those who have modified it.

    So, it may be modified but it gets the message across just the same. I hope.

  5. Thanks for this post and your words.

    I am glad that it was said that first political opponents were imprisoned here. That must have been after the Reichstag fire in 1933 when hundreds of elected parliamentarians were imprisoned.

    When I just read Martha Gellhorn's book, "The Face of War," as she went to this camp when it was liberated in 1945. She was shocked by what she saw and by what she learned of the dastardly acts that went on there.

    Yet, she said that she met men who had been there for 9, 10 and 12 years and their minds were as sound as when they entered these gates of hell. So they must have been political prisoners, as those who were held there in the earlier years were political opponents.

    There is an excellent movie, "Denial," which tells of a Jewish professor, Deborah Lipshutz, who was sued by a Holocaust denier in Britain. She ultimately won the case. But the film takes the viewers to Ausschwitz and it is shocking even though we know what happened.

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  7. My aunt survived because the older people gave her their rations.