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Museum Journal 4

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A few weeks ago, we visited Dachau- the only concentration camp during WWII that remained open through the entirety of the war.

It was a beautifully sunny day as we disembarked the bus on our way to walk through a concentration death camp. The moment we stepped onto the grounds, conversations slowed and laughter drifted away. I was standing where thousands were forced to unlawfully work and be tortured for no good reason. How could I smile? How could I give my friends a hug? This was not a place to seek enjoyment.

The path to the actual camp did not feel like such a place, but the second the gate with "Arbeit Mach Frei" stood before me, it all hit me. I was at a concentration camp where Nazi soldiers forced innocent people to work and live their lives in fear of death. I was standing where many once stood minutes before they died, either emotionally or physically. As I entered the grounds of the camp, there was an enourmous piece of land before me, with bunker buildings circling around the land. I closed my eyes for one second and envisioned the people who one lived there. It was one of the most eery moments of my life. As I walked through the Museum, I was overwhelmed with personal stories from victims and historical background to how and why the world allowed Hitler to rise to such power. Although I was presented with the facts that the government was failing and the Democratic attempts were not popular so the only thing for many people to turn to was Hitler's new and improved government. However, it just scares me to think that a lack of guidance will lead masses to agree with such an evil man and government.

In this museum, there was exhibition where it showed pictures of Adolf Hitler in a crowd, 10 years or so before he even attempted to rise to power. Think about that: think about how many different protests and speaches there are from day to day, and no one knew that one man in that crowd was going to order the deaths of millions of innocent civilians not 10 years later.

Following the gruesome details shared within the museum, I was then given the opportunity to walk through the Bunkers- where all of the innocents were forced to live. Walking down the hall, randomly peeking into these small, cement cells sent sets of chills and tears through my body. Soon, I ended up slowly and fearfully walking towards the gas chambers and crematoriums. This was the peak of my emotional breakdown at this camp- it was all to difficult to stomach this experience. These evil dictators had the audacity to tell the innocent people that they were just merely entering the showers, where actually they were minutes away from a gruesome and tortuous death. It just seemed all too planned out- and truly speaks volumes to how evil this dictatorship was.

Overall, the entirety of the experience was extremely emotionally challenging. Despite my feelings from the actual camp, it was also quite upsetting to see some other people's reactions to such an experience. There were younger children, ages ranging from 7 to 18- and I saw some very disrespectful kids during our visit. For example, I was watching an upsetting clip of dying victims, as I looked down to my right- I saw a young 9 year old girl, with her mouth wide open in sheer shock. It upset me to think that she was being exposed to such information, but also warmed my heart to think that at a young age of 9- she partially understood the brutality to Dachau and WWII. Not 10 minutes later, I see a group of 16-17 year old boys completely disregarding where they are and horsing around. How can a 9 year old girl understand how to act and a member of the generation above her have no idea how to appropriately behave? It was upsetting.

Overall, I think that the trip to Dachau- although upsetting- was quite necessary for many to see. It allows you to truly appreciate the brutality to the Holocaust and feel for the all the victims. With that said, thank you for organizing such a trip, Erika. I appreciate it.


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Freiburg, Germany