The concentration camps which are preserved as a historic witness to the atrocities of the last century are somber places which frighten and fascinate tourists all at once. They are not uplifting or thrilling in any sense, but they are nonetheless a part of the travel itinerary that many explore in Germany. This is what you can expect from one of the most visited sites in Southern Germany: Dachau.
The proximity of the camp to Munich at just 20km means there are many people who come here when touring places like Bavaria or in our case coming over an hour and a half from Stuttgart. The camp has ample parking which is the only thing you will be charged for 3 Euros for a car and 5 for a bus, it is well marked from the main highways. The park is open every day of the year from 9am-5pm except for December 24th. Often there is restoration work going on due to the age of the buildings.
As one approaches the gate with the inscription “work brings freedom” there is certainly a sense of foreboding which translates into somberness the entire time you are within the memorial and it does not depart till long after you’ve driven away. Inside we read the stories of many nameless men and women who were singled out for nothing more than character traits and ethnicities and forced to work and die here.
Some might expect the place to be gory or scary. It is certainly unpleasant but it feels more sterile than anything. The grounds are large and there are various buildings that served as bunks and workshops, but more terrible sights too like the gas chambers and ovens. Things are well marked so that you can decide if you want to see something before going into it.
There is a monastery noe on the grounds that is very peaceful and almost like a glimmer of hope in the surrounding turmoil. Monuments are abundant in memory of the things that were done here and the people who were wronged. Dachau is certainly worth seeing as a way of facing the history of human cruelty and the eventual triumph of good.