And we’re off! Driving from Heidelberg to Munich which is 3 1/2 hrs but wound up taking way more. I lost count from the delirium of being in a car too long. Mind you the time we were traveling was during election year back home so there will be many political discussions with people. I was amazed how many people knew more than the average American living in AMERICA! If that just stung you (Americans) a little bit, than it should. Ludwig was a very cool guy, him and I were talking for hours about Germans vs. Americans and the politics back home. It would be the first time we were seeing an African American running for office. So it was very exciting. We stopped in some village in Bavaria to have lunch, he would not let us pay the full bill because he said it was his treat, but we agreed on paying half. I had a beer that was almost as tall as me and we continued to Munich.
I’m a bit of a history junkie so when I found out we were going to Munich, I had to go see the Dachau concentration camp. I’m half Jewish so it felt so strange stepping foot where thousands of people died. Walking through the gate and seeing “Arbeit Macht Frei” was chilling and overwhelming. The main courtyard is empty because a lot of the barracks were decayed and had to be taken down. They had a remake of one barrack so people can walk through. But the landscape of the whole place was huge. Our tour guide was amazing and very knowledgable, he told us people always knew punishment was around the corner but never knew when. It makes sense as to why they were able to control the people with fear. It was literally impossible to escape Dachau and only one was lucky to escape. The camp had an electric fence, guards in the watch towers, and SS guards waiting on the other side of the fence if someone took the chance to escape.
The guide also told us it did not matter if you were 100% Jewish, if your great-grandfather was Jewish than you were considered a Jew. My father is Jewish and my mother is Catholic so hearing that it would not matter that I was baptized, the fact my father was Jewish, I probably would have been killed. I literally had the chills going through the whole tour because I started envisioning if this were me, my dad and brother who were stuck here and tortured or worse killed.
I was not sure if they had a crematorium but they did. Before we went there, we first had to go through the gas chamber. I honestly, was not sure how I felt about going through that but I did it anyway. The rooms were made purposely small so the gas filled up the room and rose faster. They would stuff people in the rooms and when the doors would open after a few minutes there would be pyramids of people because they would climb on top of each other to get the last breath of air. I stood in the room for a while to try to even imagine what this was like, even standing in a gas chamber it still was hard to comprehend the horror of what was done to these people. Once you left the gas chamber another door opened to the next room where the ovens were. I was so speechless to be standing in front of these killing ovens in person. The guide told us they would put 2 or 3 bodies on each slab and send them in.
After seeing all that I needed to go outside for fresh air. You think, “Yes, we know this happened”. But when you are actually there, standing on the same gravel where blood was shed, the agony people went through, it stays with you. Later on we went through the jail cells, I ran my fingers along the paint chipped walls and used my senses to get the full experience. I walked into one cell and sat there for a few minutes, I believe in horrible places like these energy of those who were lost stay there. I am very sensitive to vibes from people and energies, so while I was sitting there I had a massive headache out of no where and felt light-headed. I immediately left to go outside and it was gone but it was a strange feeling.
This experience will never leave me and even four years later as I write this to tell you this story I remember it like it was yesterday. I am glad Dachau is a memorial not only for those who have perished but also to educate to never let this happen again. But unfortunately, even these camps do not stop it from happening like in Darfur and other countries.