Dachau Concentration Camp-Jews
Directions to Dachau
“Enter the Autobahn in direction to Munich and take the exit “Garmisch-Nuemberg-Stuttgart” and follow signs to Nuremberg/Stuttgart Autobahn (i.e. the first exit splits, keep to the right.) Do not enter the Nuremberg Autobahn. Continue following signs to “Stuttgart Autobahn” until you come to the “Oberschleissheim/Dauchau” exit. As you enter Dachau (first 4-way intersection with traffic lights,) take a right and the camp is one kilometer down on the left.
Open Tues.-Sun. 0900 -1700 hours. English speaking movies at 1130 and 1530 hours. Entry is free; no guided tours are offered. Inside museum brochures cost DM 0.30 and can be purchased in any language. It gives the plan and explanation of the camp. Dachau is located about 1 ½ hour drive from Chiemsee. Dachau is closed on certain German holidays.”
The above was my first introduction to Dachau Concentration camp. I was at a retreat at Lake Chiemsee with Berean Missionary Fellowship to the American Military. I had been in Germany one month and eight days.
I had heard of Corrie Ten Boom and the movie “The Hiding Place.” Actually, “The Hiding Place” was the first movie I ever saw in a theatre. I knew of the horrible things that had happened in Germany. This was my first experience where the history, of a movie or a book, become something I could see, hear, smell, and feel.
Plan of the Dachau Camp
What I saw at Dachau
What I saw was the museum. My stomach became more and more upset as I looked at the pictures and read the documentation. The first part of the museum was of the Nazi seizure of power. In this area, there was a special section showing the persecution of the Jews and the documents of the disease and medical experiments. There were shocking pictures of lamp shades and purses made out of human skin.
The second section was the grim, hollow walls that witnessed the horrors and brutality of the executions, vehicles used in the transportation of invalids and the creepy, smelly crematory. They gave me a map of where the blocks were located, where the bunkers, that were where the starving, freezing people stood for hours, and then the rolling mounds of the cemetery.
The pictures were very graphic and GRUESOME and when consumed along with the words it was enraging.
What I heard at Dachau
What I heard was that the camp was a total of 5 square miles in size. Thinking on the fact that people were being brought in daily by the trainloads and that no one was allowed to leave. There were 206,000 people registered to have been sent to Dachau and some were taken without being registered. That fact alone tells, a thinking mind, that something is wrong. This camp is located 15 miles from the town of Dachau. All those train loads of people coming into the camp and no one leaving where would you put them all?
Map of location of Dachau
What I smelled at Dachau
What I smelled brought back a memory. A memory from the day my maternal grandfather died. He had Alzheimers and laid for many a day in the hospital, just breathing, before he passed. On that final day, I walked into the room and there was a very musty, dry smell. I later identified the smell as “death.” At the Dachau Concentration Camp I smelled “death” again, twelve years and seven day later. If ever you smell “death” it is a smell you will not forget. It is very distinct and memorable smell.
What I felt at Dachau
What I felt as I stood among the eerie buildings, brought on another memory. One day my Mother and I turned the corner a quarter of a mile from our home. There was a distinct smell and a sticky residue in the air. When we arrived home, we were informed that one of our pig pens had burned. When an animal or human is burned a sticky residue resides in the air. It is heavy, smelly and sticky. Even after years of no deaths there was a heavy, smelly, sticky residue in the air at the Dachau camp.
Affect of Dachau
I have written papers and told people about this experience, trying to lessen the sickness, I felt when I visited this camp. I do not have enough words to explain what I saw, heard, smelled and felt that day. I do think of the place at some of the weirdest of times. People getting tattoos seems to make me think of this place and what happened in the nineteen thirties. A tattoo is a way to identify someone. We see it all the time on the crime shows on TV. A way to identify someone you love, and that someone, could have been standing in the snow, naked, and starving to death. You walking by each day, seeing the tattoo that identifies your sister, brother, uncle or neighbor, stretching, distorting and then not there. Something I saw in the pictures or read made this picture for me.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit Dachau Concentration camp, definitely go. Take the time to read documentation and look at the pictures. It will be a life changing experience. And maybe, you will see, hear, smell and feel some of the same things.