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I Went to Dachau

Posted by Dr. D , 20 September 2012 · 393 views

How many rooms have I entered in my life, tens of thousands, more?  But there was one that is indelible upon my mind and sneaks into my thoughts without warning.  It was a room without furniture and with a heavy steel door.  There were no windows and the floor was a cold pattern of bricks.  It was a room that witnessed the drama of life and its ending and I will remember it always.

I went to Dachau in the fall.  Bavaria is beautiful in the weeks before winter.  Colors danced across the hills and sheep grazed with postcard beauty.  The city is small but alive with activity and a people appearing to be happy.  They two generations separated from what the city was and I sensed they had made a special effort to forget.

The rain came in a fine mist, not enough to annoy but just enough to keep droplets on your face.  Perhaps because of the rain, I was the only visitor to the concentration camp.  It is now immaculate and organized with a museum and self-cleansing propaganda claiming that the gas chamber existed but was never used.  Many historians submit that it is true but some ex-prisoners tell of its daily use.  The medical experiments are exposed with photos and records and a collection of arm bands are displayed.  They were used to identify the category of the prisoner: Jew, Gypsy, political prisoner, homosexual, Communist, Dissident, Pacifist, Jehovah Witness, habitual criminal, Antisocial . . . .

On the walkway through the barracks where one shudders to think of sleeping winter nights on slabs of wood, is a book where visitors are asked to write their impressions.  The book is presumptuous, imagining that inhumanity can be framed into words; that savagery really has an expression beyond itself.

Farther down the path is the building, almost obscured by bushes.  Entering, one is met with a row of stout iron furnaces, their doors open like hungry ogres.  In front is the metal door and above it is written “Brausebad,” or shower room. The walls are of tile, yellowish in tint and it is spacious.  It was said that 100 people could be placed in there, each holding a towel and a bar of soap, believing the lie that they had entered to take a shower.

It is claimed that no one died there and yet the energy saturating the room tells a different tale.  It is the saga of those who expired in silence, gasping against the hissing gas and being thrown into the furnaces like the dead leaves of autumn or some soulless waste.  Their fear and resignation yet pushes the air like the weight of old torments.  You cannot help but keep your eyes riveted upon the door, thinking that it will close at any moment and the hissing will be heard.

I went to Dachau in the fall and I left a part of me there.  I think it’s called faith in humanity.

I'd feel almost wrong saying I 'like this' post, just feels in bad taste but I can't describe how I feel otherwise, just almost empty at the thought of what went on in such places.
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I don't feel wrong 'liking' this post.  When someone writes about subject matter that is horrendous, how they write about it is what is meaningful and what counts.  Dr. D always writes in poetic, meaningful and tasteful ways that touch the heart and make people learn.  There is nothing wrong with liking that.  I have cried at many of his entries.  Especially at the entries of his lost love.  Words are powerful and how they are used are what gets my 'likes'.
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