July 28 - The Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau was a concentration camp located just north of Munich, in Germany. It was originally built in 1933, and was in use until 1945. It was one of the first concentration camps made, and was used as a model for future camps by the Nazis. The SS (Hitler's special police) wrote the first guidelines for how prisoners were to be treated, tortured, and punished. This particular camp was a "work camp", which meant that the prisoners were forced to work. They were told that if they worked hard they would be set free. In reality, this wasn't true, but was only a bribe. The prisoners worked until they were too weak and undernourished to even stand up. At this point they would collapse and die, or be sent to an extermination camp. From 1933-1945 between 30,000-40,000 men died at Dachau. A crematorium was built at this camp to burn the numerous corpses. The odor from the burning bodies could be smelled throughout Dachau and the surrounding countryside.

Being at Dachau was a sad and unbelievable experience. To think about what actually happened in the place that I was walking in and exploring put me in a state of disbelief. I couldn't have imagined being at one of these camps, and watching so many people die at once. It was extremely hard to look at the actual walls where people were shot and the bunkers where prisoners were kept in for years. Learning about the kinds of torture that were done here was terrible to hear. If you didn't make your bed perfectly in the morning, you were whipped severely, and sent to the bunkers (prisons). There was also a small lawn, about 10 feet wide, around all the barbed wire fences. If you stepped onto this lawn, you were shot down by guards in the watchtowers. The people were only served hot meals every fourth day, which was the only thing to look forward to besides sleeping. Now that I have been to a concentration camp, I have a greater appreciation for my life today and hope that a tragedy like this will never occur again.