Decaln left to return to Sweden this morning and I had the day to kill so I took it to Dachau, Germanys first concentration camp! Yes it was a crappy day so I thought I would make the best (or worst) of it, and boy did I ever.
Dachau was founded in 1933, the year Adolf took power. It held over 200,000 people with just over 30,000 of those perishing from one thing or another. It was the camp that all the others were modeled on! It wasn’t a death camp however, although it was fitted with a gas chamber near the end of the war (but apparently never used). Boy did I get a creepy feeling when I walked in there (by accident at first as I decided to do the whole thing in reverse and the labels where all on the other side for some reason?).
Gangs of tourists moved though the camp taking pictures of each other posing in front of the various places of atrocities. All putting on a serious face instead of the usual “Hi mom” expression. What strange tourism. It struck me that the memorials that were placed all over the place weren’t as popular as the sites where death and torture occurred. People seemed drawn to them, like the scene of a car accident. Every one wants to look.
I also had a feeling of strange fascination that one gets when you see a celebrity in person. This thing that has been exaggerated and hyped up by the media for most of your life is suddenly in front of you. It became hard to relate to the sentiment of the place as it had become larger than life in my minds eye.
I left wondering weather ether of these emotions, the ‘passer by’ or the ‘dazed fan’, really were helping anything except push a stereo type that Germany and Germans will never live down. I suppose there has to be something to mark the history. It may have been grim but it wasn’t boring.
There were no postcards on sale. Sorry guys.