Munich was a challenging city for a variety of reasons. We were diving into exploration and deep thinking at nearly the same pace as we began at in Berlin, however Munich was much more draining than our previous destination. Rainy days, larger groups, and difficult sights such as the Dachau Concentration Camp resulted in us growing a lot closer as a group because we had to stand by each other in moments where we were both mentally and physically exhausted.
Despite the tougher moments faced in Munich, there were plenty of breathtaking moments as well. Hiking to the top of historic castles showed sights of nature prettier than I could even begin to imagine. The comforting moments spent bonding in a local coffee shop filled my heart.
Heartbreaking Thoughts at Dachau
Though the vast majority of our time spent in Munich included weather that wasn’t the most ideal, it was ironically a beautiful day when we went to visit a dark place such as Dachau. The birds were chirping, the flowers were blooming, and the sun was shining. The dichotomy was unsettling to say the least. It seems as though in a place where so much horror occurred, the sun shouldn’t shine at all. This is when a revelation revealed itself to me. How often is it that when we even attempt to imagine any of the incidents that took place here, we automatically paint the picture as the sky being covered with clouds, gloomy and dark? But when you think about it a little more, you recognize that couldn’t have always been the case. Some days were bound to be beautiful. I can’t begin to grasp the pain and agony that came to waking up to a beautiful day of sunshine, a day in which children should be sent outside to play, young couples should be on walk in the park or having a picnic outside, and people should be passing by on morning jogs, but instead, you find yourself abused and confined. Would you be able to handle the birds chirping simultaneously as the screams of desperation surrounding you rang equally as loud?
When walking through the museum portion of Dachau, I got to a section discussing how the prison camps were completely staged to look organized and effective when visitors came to get a look at what exactly was taking place. The true terrors were hidden, and not single person who strolled through managed to see past the facade of order into what Dachau really was—a site of unjustified horror. It breaks my heart to think that those who walked through the camp couldn’t sense something was terribly wrong. Could they not tell by the faces or bodies of individuals that this treatment was inhumane? Or did they not even care to begin with?
The German Reich was experiencing a rough economic crisis during this time period. Millions were losing their jobs and had nowhere to turn for support. Because of this, the National Socialists and Communists used the situation to position themselves as rescuers from these harsh circumstances. The German population was in a vulnerable and frightening position, so they clung to the first sign of hope. This turned out to be a power that would seemingly help them, but those members turned a blind eye to members of the population who would be severely mistreated with the rise of the anti-democratic parties. It is a natural tendency for humans to turn selfish and insensitive in moments where we feel weak. But I challenge you to be bold in loving your neighbor. As Harris Podell said, “Human connection is one of the most important thing in the world.” It’s important for society as a whole to hold true to this.
Below is are quotes that are hard but necessary to read in regards to the treatment of people within these camps. Please, don’t let history continue to repeat itself.