Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dachau revisited

I’ve been to Dachau twice now—the first time was in the early 80s during my first marriage, and of course yesterday’s trip.

The first trip was strange not only because of where we were (let’s face it, Dachau is somber and thought-provoking), but also because it was about a week after my older son had fallen from a window, landed on the sidewalk below and fractured his skull, plus I’d found out the day after Jordan fell that I was pregnant with Ben and to top it all off, my then mother-in-law had just arrived to visit us for three weeks. Whew, that was a lot going on. I recall that the weather was incredibly hot for Germany, in the mid to upper 80s, possibly even 90. There were no guided tours then and the gate was in a different spot than today. The museum had what I guess was a visiting exhibition of shoes because it wasn't there yesterday—an impossibly huge pile of shoes from victims (I think they were specific to Dachau but maybe not). The shoes got me, seeing all those shoes humanized the genocide there in a way that is sometimes missed by blurry, black and white photos.

This second trip was no less moving. This time we did have a tour guide and she really filled in all the blanks. The weather was not great—temps were in the mid-60s and it rained pretty hard, hard enough to soak my not very water resistant coat so that in the end I donated some money to get a plastic rain poncho. But it was appropriate to have not great weather there. At the end of the day, I’d be getting on a bus, then a train and heading to the Hofbräuhaus for some beer and a late lunch with just wet clothing to bother me.

If you have a chance to go to one of the concentration camps, or to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., go. We should never forget what happened.

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