A drunken night and a sobering day in Dachau

Barbed wire on perimeter fence at Dachau

Dave the motorhome has squeeeeezed into a space in the Stellplatz in Dachau (N48.26248 E11.44139). I write it like that because there’s a fair on in town and the place is packed full of people in traditional dress. The stellplatz is full of cars, who have blocked each other in, so we don’t stand a chance of getting out until they move!

Helge only had one bottle in the fridge!

Last night Helge and Stefanie were the perfect hosts we had a lovely meal, lots to drink and they had an unending willingness to answer our many, many questions about all things Bavarian and German. As we staggered back to Dave just after midnight it was the night sky that was entertaining us. With hardly any light pollution we could clearly see the milky way, sitting on the pavement we waited – in about half an hour I saw around 12 shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor shower. Jay saw none, for him all the stars were moving and the earth was spinning. But also his interest was distracted by a hedgehog which prickled him when he picked it up and brought it over to show me.

This morning we slept in late before going for a long walk in the nearby forest with the dogs. Helge’s pooch decided it would be fun to go for a dip in a muddy puddle, Charlie couldn’t understand why it would be, especially not as he was hosed down when we got back – Charlie hates hoses.

ooops !

Stefanie and I sat in the sunshine while the men went to sort out some plans and maps for our next few days. Offers to stay longer were graciously declined, as we need to get moving, there is much to see before we have our next rendez vous in a couple of weeks with some other friends further North. We headed towards Munich, Jay has been before but with work so hasn’t really seen much of the city and I haven’t been, so Helge drew up a walking tour for us of the sights. But first we felt the need to stop at Dachau and see the concentration camp memorial.

We’ve been to one concentration camp in Trieste, Italy on a thundery day – we were pretty much the only people there, so were surprised to see a full car park at Dachau with just over an hour before it closed. The plan was to stop the night in town then visit tomorrow, but as we drove along a quick consultation of our guidebook confirmed it’s closed on Mondays. We walked along the path in the sunshine, reading the information boards. As we passed through the gates into the camp, people sat in the shade on the grass, families wandered around and small children laughed and played. This wasn’t at all what we were expecting. Walking through ‘The Bunker’, the prison area, sombre faces listened to their audio guides and another room filled with information on the history of the place overwhelmed us with details. We only had a short time, so looked at a few of the boards and then made our way out into the camp itself – after all information can be read any time.

Cells in The Bunker, home to ‘special’ prisoners

The camp at Trieste felt more personal to me, maybe it was the weather or the small size of the place. The memorial at a train station to all the victims who were deported from there had me in tears, you could almost see them stood there scared and waiting to board the trains, but here it wasn’t possible to imagine what happened – even with haunting images of the prisoners looking out at you. It was a strange sensation, I thought it would be upsetting to visit, but it wasn’t. The place is almost clinical – as if the past was wiped out and has been put back in for people to remember. I’m not sure if we’ll visit any more camps, they tell of a dark past which we know of and will never forget. However visiting more places won’t help me to understand why it had to happen any more than I do now.

The entrance gate to Dachau
Prisoner roll call in the yard at Dachau
Footprints of the destroyed bunkers
The memorial sculpture at Dachau – a barbed wire of people
The ashes of unknown concentration camp victims sit next to a poignant reminder
Barbed wire on perimeter fence at Dachau
Strange fact – Angora rabbits were kept at the camp, their fur was used to line Luftwaffe pilots uniforms

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