Our first day in Germany was pretty fun, so we decided to get the shitty day over with on Sunday. First, some yummy breakfast, to distract you from what’s coming:
Strangely, this is the 1000th image on my blog:
Anyway. After breakfast, we took the train to Dachau, and then the bus to KZ Dachau.
So, I have some photos, and I’ll talk a bit about them, but it wasn’t really a photography-centric trip. I didn’t take photos of the crematorium, of the ovens, of the wall where people were shot, etc.
For hours we walked around KZ Dachau, and walked through the museum. My most common word was “fuck” usually uttered by itself.
The concentration camp was massive. Perversely, in the same way that Oktoberfest is massive. It, too, is way larger than you can really fathom unless you’re standing there. They only have two of the housing facilities reconstructed, and just leave a foundation for the rest of them, which makes it even more apparent just how huge the place is.
It goes without saying that a visit to a concentration camp is incredibly depressing. I’m glad I went. It was a very meaningful and deeply moving experience. But there was nothing good about the trip. Nothing rewarding, redeeming, pleasant, or happy. It didn’t just ruin my day; it fucked up a pretty fundamental part of my existence for a while. It’s something that will be with me forever.
There were some people that were just walking around laughing, or behaving otherwise inexplicably. There weren’t many of them, but this is something to be aware of. On the bus in, there were in fact people cracking jokes about the thing. I suppose it’s a way of trying to cope with it and desensitize yourself, but I didn’t appreciate these approaches.
Everybody I talk to about this sort of looks at me and says “duh,” but I think what I found most chilling was the efficiency that the German mentality brought to the process of engineering the extermination of human beings. Working people to death and/or killing them was made into an industrial process. In intricate detail, the rail systems were designed for the transport of prisoners, and the facilities were designed to make their processing as efficient as possible. Even the crematorium at KZ Dachau was laid out as part of a linear workflow, where each step of the extermination and disposal of human beings was assigned to a specific room, and the room was designed to accommodate that particular task. In the same way that one might design a factory assembly line, an industrial process was made to turn humans into ash.
A few hours in the museum after walking around did a lot to highlight how everything casually slipped into place in the first place, and how logically the party took over and the camps appeared. That I’m reading The Man in the High Castle right now isn’t probably helping things.
I don’t have anything intelligent to say about the experience. Go, either to KZ Dachau or a similar place of remembrance. It’s something you need to see. And I’m sorry in advance.
Right. Beer. Sausage. Color photographs. Here we go. But first, punk teenagers trying to get drunk on the train on the way back from Dachau, while singing along to crappy German rock:
On to Marienplatz. It’s pretty, like this:
We walked around a bit, and ended up having dinner at Schneider-Weisse. It was some of the more pretty food, in terms of preparation, but the service was an abomination. We had to beg for the bill several times, and I’m pretty sure got hosed on the scam “tip.” And my plate of sausages showed up about an hour after we’d finished the meal and were by that point plenty full. But, otherwise, it was a fun dinner.