An Hour in Germany’s First Concentration Camp
Children playing in front of mangled body art
Our pitstop between Prague and Munich was far more somber than our other stops. We had an hour and a half to roam Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany. Standing in the crematorium where thousands of bodies were incinerated impressed on me the enormity of the situation. As big and horrible as I cognitively knew it was, I don’t think I could fully wrap my head around the terrors of the holocaust.
My time in Berlin began with a nighttime walk along the longest remaining chunk of the Berlin wall. We went and enjoyed the murals as we talked and joked with each other, but the reality of the sight would occasionally creep into my consciousness. Today it’s a long stretch of outdoor art. Less than 30 years ago it was a prison wall that sprung up and drastically changed the lives of a generation.
As we walked, lightening began to illuminate the dark clouds and fat drops of rain dampened our clothes. Nature has its way of creating the appropriate soundtrack.
I could’ve spent the entire next day just walking the Wall and taking in the art. It’s varied and beautiful and serves as the perfect canvas to memorialize the struggle of the city. Having been ravaged by war, split in half and only recently unified takes a major toll on a region and its people. The rubble was taken out and the buildings came up but there are subtle reminders everywhere of the terrors from just a few decades ago.