Today for our final day in Germany we took tour trip out to Dachau, one of the largest and most intact concentration camps. We took a tour of the camp and it was a very strange feeling. First of all it was a beautiful sunny day which contrasted in a weird way with the mood of the camp, and then of course there was the fact that it wasn't exactly a pleasant or fun day, but it was important and I'm glad we went.
Dave and Jen actually went earlier because they wanted to do the audio tour on their own, and we went later because we wanted to do a guided tour and sleep in a bit (remember, the two of us did climb a mountain yesterday). So we met up with our guide, which was trickier then we expected because there was this sort of race going on around Marienplatz and we had a lot of trouble locating and then getting to the tour start. We finally did, and then it was off on the metro and then a quick bus to Dachau.
I don't really have too much to talk about, I'm not going to describe every aspect or relay word for word the tour but basically there are some original buildings, some that were damaged and fixed up, and then there was a barracks that was completely a recreation because the US soldiers completely destroyed all the barracks once all the prisoners were out. Each room in the barracks had a recreation of what the beds would be situated like in each of the three time periods of the Third Reich. They basically got progressively more cramped and such.
There was a building that just had rooms of sort of exhibits set up in it. There were like artifacts, stories, propaganda, punishments, showers, the toilet facilities, etc. There was also a building we didn't get to nearby that had jail cells that were so small a person could only stand and not sit in that was used for punishments.
Past the barrack recreation were around 28 large rectangle foundation-like spaces that were where each of the original barracks were before they were destroyed, to give you a sense of scale and help visualize how everything was set up. Behind those were memorial structures to the major religions that were killed in the camp - Jewish, Christian, Protestant, and Orthodox.
But past all of that, through an open gate in the still-standing barbed wire gate, was a small bridge (which was built for the exhibit and would have just been fence and a trench with bushes you could not see through from the camp) that led to the crematorium and gas chamber. Dachau was not an extermination camp but when the so called "final solution" was put into place every camp had to install a gas chamber (pictured with this paragraph), and when it was installed it was of course used. The prisoners were told that they were moving to a new barracks and then told they were taking a shower, even so far as to label it shower and put fake shower heads in the room. Then 2 cans of gas were put into little hatches that would go down chutes into the room. Right after the chamber was the crematorium. 2 weeks (I think it was 2 weeks) before the US soldiers arrived the camp ran out of coal so by the time the soldiers got to the camp they found piles of dead bodies around the crematorium.
So that was uplifting, eh? After we got back into the city and met up with Sarah who was in Munich for an audition (lives just outside the city of Frankfurt) and we got lunch at a really good place called Schnitzelwirt. I had this really good German dish that is sort of like a mixture of little potato dumpling like things and egg noodles in a creamy cheese sauce. I think it was called Spatzle or something like that. I didn't write it down. It was good though! After we walked back to the train station talking with Sarah and then she headed back home on a train and we headed back to the hostel.
So that is it for Germany, we had a blast here. Awesome country. Tomorrow, to Belgium!