[5th of a series of posts about my late October travels to southern Germany]
“You are not responsible for what happened. But you certainly are responsible for preventing it from happening again.”
—Max Mannheim, Jewish concentration camp survivor (b. February 6, 1920 – d. September 23, 2016)
Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of its kind to be built for its purpose and was used as a model for other Nazi-era camps. As the oldest such facility, operational from 1933-1945, Dachau was originally opened for political prisoners, but later evolved into primarily holding Jewish people, who were subjected to gross overcrowding, medical experimentation, and torture. It also continued to imprison political prisoners, non-Jewish Nazi protesters, and groups that the Nazi Party considered as “inferior peoples,” e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, physically or mentally disabled people, homosexuals.
Similar to the Documentation Centre in Nuremberg, this infamous site has been slowly transformed over time with historical buildings that document what happened here and exhibitions. Some exhibits show what life was like at the camp during its active years, the timeline of the Nazi regime and the people behind it, and stories of some of the prisoners and survivors. In memoriam to all the different groups that were detained at the camp, religious memorials representing such populace have been erected on the grounds and are open for all to ponder the atrocious crimes to humanity that happened here.