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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 28: Concentration Camp

There are some black marks in history that are difficult to erase, and then there are those that never should be. With the atrocities that happened in so called Concentration Camps (or Death Camps), we should never forget these things. To forget would be to disrespect those who were imprisoned there, and it would risk the chance of repeating itself if we did not learn from our past.

Dachau. The veryn name struck fear in to the hearts of people back then -- there were sayings and rhymes 'Dear Lord God, keep me quiet, so that I do not end up in Dachau'. Itr was the first of all the concentration camps in Germany, and was the predessesor to Auschwitz. The gas chambers here were not used for mass killings for some reason, but thousands of people died here nonetheless. We walked through the halls that they used to herd people in like cattle. Once there, they had their property, dignity and rights stripped from them. We saw their bunkers, the wire fences, and the poles from which they would be hung. Of course, it was all set up in a very design oriented way... lots of panels! It took a long time to get through it all. KP and I did a mock impression in the main square (to make fun of the army that once called it home), and then we went to see the crematoriums. It was disgusting to imagine the crematoriums in use.

Dachau was the one that started it all. It was so unbelievable to be in a place like that, a place that shouldn't have ever existed! But then one has to think bitterly ont he fact that although the Nazis did so many bad things, medically they acquired information that is still in use today.

I learned that a friend of the family had been imprisoned at Dachau and was among those released when it was taken over by the Allied troops. He was given potatoes by them, and remembers it as the best meal of his life. Unfortunately though there were just too many who didn't make it to freedom: in fact, there were stories of many people who died the day before the camp was liberated. Surprisingly, there were also stories of even worse death camps -- in the exhibit, it had quotes saying that some people prayed to be sent back to Dachau. Of course, only very few people ever escaped. When the camp was freed from SS control, the troops took the people of the town of Dachau and forced them to walk through and witness the atrocities that took place there (as there were still bodies piled high). I was glad to hear that the Americans made them do that -- living next to such a place and not seeing the forest for the trees? Kind of unbelievable.

To be honest, while we learned about the SS and the Nazis I kept on thinking about the movie 'Inglourious Basterds'.

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