Sacred Ground

Of the things we were privileged to see in Europe, few left an impression as deep as the concentration camp at Dachau, one of the first locations to be used as such before and during World War II. To stand on the same ground, to walk through the same rooms where some of humankind's cruelest inventions of mind were made reality- that is an experience I hope I never forget.

I wonder what thoughts came to the American soldiers as they found, then learned the purpose behind this death camp. I wonder what thoughts went through the minds of those German soldiers who wanted no part of what went on there, yet fearing the same punishment kept silent.

In such a place, the great and terrible capacities of the human mind are brought to light. What other creature could willingly devise and commit such atrocities on his fellow man, simply out of contempt for his differences? Is such worse than one who allows or performs the same cruelty out of "scientific" curiosity?

And yet such as were subjected to these inhumanities often showed their own greatness of spirit: in refusing to cave to torture or intimidation, even under threat of such pain and death, and for those who survived, to find hope and love and optimism in the world again.

Cemeteries that hold the bodies of soldiers killed for king and country are often said to be sacred ground.

On a bright day in June, in Dachau, Germany, I had the honor to walk sacred ground of a different kind.

The entry to the camp as it would have looked in World War II- the gate is the same as above

One of the barracks in which prisoners were kept

This is a model (one of the nicer ones) of some of the beds prisoners would have slept in.

Original foundations of other prison barracks- there were 34 total buildings in this part of the camp

The maintenance building, the only original building still standing

Looking out at the center of the maintenance building from its western wing

The floor of a shower room in the maintenance building

What the outside fence of the camp would have looked like- this specifically is the "no-go zone"- once a prisoner entered it or approached the trench, he or she would be shot.

This area was used as a pistol range for prisoner executions. Another close by had a "blood trench"

The crematorium as it would have looked during World War II

Ovens in the crema

The "shower room" built and designed to gas prisoners. The one at Dachau was never used for this purpose.

The door leading into the Jewish memorial on the camp grounds.


Julina said…
Thank you for sharing that. I don't have anything else to add.
Emily S. said…
Like Julina... there's just no good comment to leave here... Except I am glad you were moved by this and felt to share it.

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