A Second Time at Dachau

Last June, I visited Europe with my high school and had an absolutely amazing experience exploring Europe with a group of 150 girls, including my closest friends from home (Jorden, Andie, and Anna – I love and miss you)! We had the opportunity to visit Dachau then, but my experience visiting Dachau just a year later was so different and made my growth in just the last year very apparent to me. Even though it was my second time at Dachau, I still spent almost 8 hours exploring the concentration camp, learning with a whole new perspective of intentionality.

One of the best ways to learn is to be genuinely curious. If you want to learn in a way that causes growth, having the courage to ask and ponder hard questions is extremely impactful. Dachau was a place that allowed me to reflect on these types of questions, and therefore was a place where I was able to learn more about myself.

Here are some of the questions that I am still struggling to find answers to after going to Dachau for a second time.

How could someone dedicate their lives to violently abusing and systematically murdering so many people?

During my first year at TCU, my desire to become a doctor has been exponentially amplified. In fact, a few days before leaving for CR, I was asking my dad about what type of doctor I should become, and I started crying not because I was stressed about my future, but because of how excited I am to one day serve those in need, form meaningful relationships with my patients, and help to provide people with a better quality of life. Because of how much my freshman year has strengthened this desire in me, going to Dachau a second time was so much harder than the first time. I just could not wrap my mind around how someone could find meaning through dedicating their lives to violently abusing and systematically murdering so many people, a perspective that is just so dramatically opposite of mine. I couldn’t even begin to understand the mindset of the concentration camp workers.

How could the adults who worked at the concentration camps go home at night and be proud to share with their spouses and children all of the evil they were a part of that day?

My desire to be a mom someday and be an example to my future children is even greater than my desire to become a doctor. Parents should serve as role models to their children and lead them by the way they act. People should be proud of their career and what they do everyday. If you were to go home at night and tell your children about how many people you abused and killed, what type of example are you setting for them?

How can I explain the power and deep love God has for each and every one of us to a non-believer when I can’t explain why He would allow something so horrific happen?

My faith is a very important aspect of my life. I live my faith out through the way I treat others, and I strive to treat them with the same type of love that I know God has for me. This has been the best way for me to help others realize this joy is something that can only come through God. However, when it comes to trying to explain the horrors of the Holocaust, the way I act and live every day cannot explain why God would allow something so evil to happen in this world.

How did pure evil take place in such a beautiful place?

The nature surrounding Dachau served as a drastic contrast to the horrors that occurred in the concentration camp. Dachau was filled with lush green land, a beautiful blue sky, large fluffy clouds, and chirping birds. This utter beauty made the photos of the dead corpses carelessly stacked on top of each other seem even more horrifying.

How do you begin wrapping your mind around the sheer number of people who were killed at Dachau alone?

Dachau was designed to hold 6,000 people, but at one point there were over 30,000 people held here. Throughout the time Dachau was open, over 41,500 individual people were killed there. These people had families, careers, and unique personalities. They were people just like you and me. The sorrow and pain that are experienced when one person passes away can sometimes be unimaginable, but how can one even begin to comprehend this pain 41,500 times.

Memorial Stadium (where the Huskers play football) can hold about 90,000 fans, and on game day, the stadium itself becomes the 3rd largest city in Nebraska.

At Dachau, half this number of people were killed.

TCU has about 10,000 students.

At Dachau, 4 times this number of people were killed.

My high school had 700 students.

At Dachau, 60 times this number of people were killed.

There are 5 people in my immediate family.

At Dachau, 8,000 times this number of people were killed.

There is one of me.

At Dachau, 41,500 people just like me were killed.

Dachau taught me about how much growth and learning can come from asking hard questions, and will forever serve as a reminder to me of how fragile life can be.

Sending love from the train to Interlaken,

Lauren Klingemann

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