The clock had just ticked over to 4 pm. The air was thick with frost, snow building as night time approached. The pulse of my heart began to grow as I explored each new room and listened to the atrocities as told by survivors on my audio guide. I was the only living soul in the entire facility. In February 1945, some sixty five years before hand there had been thousands upon thousands of lost and empty souls, many of whom would never see the end of the war.
Dachau concentration camp. The first of its kind opened on March 22nd 1932 by Nazi Germany would go on to house not only Jews but gypsies, homosexuals, Catholic priests, blacks, political prisoners and social misfits. Built just outside of Munich in Germany, It is estimated that over 200,000 prisoners were held there over the 13 years that Dachau served as a concentration camp. Of that number more than 31,000 died through not only the gas chambers but suicide, starvation, disease, beatings and rape.
One prisoner on my audio guide recalled how he was forced to rape his two teenage daughters in front of German soldiers for “entertainment” after which they proceeded to shoot his daughters in front of him and allowed him to live with the memory for the remainder of his life.
The image enclosed within this blog was taken not far from the the second gas chamber. Behind me there once stood prisoner barracks which held prisoners. Some of the rooms would be no bigger than your average modern bedroom yet they would hold over 30 people day and night.
I remember the distressed emotions that encapsulated my heart, mind and thoughts on that bitterly cold February afternoon in 2010. It is now almost three years ago yet I hold vivid memories of my visit to Dachau like it was yesterday.
For those of you travelling to Europe this year, make a concerted effort to visit as many Nazi death camps as you can. It is a subtle reminder that our day to day first world problems pale in comparison to what so many millions went through all those years ago.
This photograph will resonate with me for the remainder of my life. A sharp reminder of just how lucky I am to lead the beautiful life I do.