Nothing screams voyeuristic existentialism like listening to the extended intro of “I Will Possess Your Heart” on a cloudy day on a train in Munich. Hokey, I know but heading to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial is a little sobering. On another note, I’d say I can comprehend some simple phrases (written) In German. It’s making traveling outside Munich’s city center less difficult. Picking out other Americans is pretty easy; as I write this on a bus, I already detected two college-aged girls on the metro heading to the same memorial. Those Northface jackets are such a giveaway…
I feel like I’ve been to a concentration camp before, even though that’s not true. I must’ve dreamt being at one and everything about it matched today; the drizzly weather, the scenery, and the feeling I’d get while walking around the place of the deaths of thousands of people. Two things that struck me as I wandered around for a few hours. First, the role Dachau played in the concentration camp system. As early as 1933, prisoners were delivered there, like cattle. That’s six whole years before Germany’s invasion of Poland. Many of the prisoners that went to Dachau were Soviets, Polish clergy, and various “political prisoners.” political prisoners at a concentration camp added with some photographs in the museum had me wondering if the people there knew what was occurring, the prisoners and the small town right outside of it. Today, especially as an American, history is retold as if the mass extermination of people had been taking place and any and everybody knew that it was happening. I think the prisoners themselves might have had an idea that their living conditions were clearly leading them to their deaths. But the more modern view of the SS’s ingenuity of mass murdering wasn’t on the prisoners’ mind.
That brings me to point number two: the awesome extent that human beings can systematically and efficiently kill themselves. Dachau was actually a work camp that was taken over by the SS (from the local authorities running it), which then instilled this “new model” of running concentration camps. The networking that took place between camps proves just that; there was a schematic manner to control the non-Aryan population. Mass executions didn’t take place at Dachau. Prisoners would be shipped elsewhere to subcamps. But there was still a crematorium that was later replaced by a larger one for disposing the dead. So yes, thousands of people died there but my mentality really changed when I realized that there was a cunningness to the SS and their means for running Dachau that placed it as the new standard for concentration camps.
(The prison within the concentration camp. I found this to be quite bizarre and it consequently formed this notion I have that prisoners didn’t recognize their status as we now do. A prison within a prison…what sort of implications does that give?)
(The bunk beds that were initially suppose to house around a hundred men. I can remember the specific numbers but at some point, these long buildings had nearly 2,000 persons living in each structure).
(The Jewish memorial among the other varying sects of Christianity’s churches).
Again, this was written from the iPhone so forgive me for any typos or grammatical errors!
(I’m just waiting for my phone to charge before I go to Dachau so I apologize for the typos and misspellings, I’m on my iPhone). Yesterday the couch surfing guy never got back to me and I was literally on his door step but with no wifi I had no idea how to get in touch with him. So I had to train back into the city and ended up doing this maybe 4 mile loop trying to find a hostel. I didn’t have wifi so I used some instincts like locating the nearest Starbucks. But my phone was dying and I was about 2 miles outside of the city center at that point. I know hostels don’t book the day of, or it’s difficult to do that, so I wandered through the city center again. I found a large group of kids with an older leader of sorts, and again, using some instincts I’ve picked up from traveling, a group like that must be heading towards a hostel. I stalked the youth group 😛 about a half a block behind them as to not seem crazy. They lead me right to this hostel that looked really crowded but fortunately, they had a room for me! I met a French Canadian named Xavier and shortly thereafter we went out for some German food. I had Munich schnitzel and a liter of dark beer (putting the Irish pint to shame). It’s nice to see a city on a weekday just because most European cities have a crazy night life on the weekends.