I vividly remember first learning about the Holocaust when I was a girl in school. I remember not understanding how and why something that horrific could ever occur. I remember crying as I read the Diary of Anne Frank from start to finish. I wondered how people could treat other people that way. I still do.
I always wanted the opportunity to travel to Germany to further educate myself on the events that unfolded during WWII in Europe. And as hard as I knew it would be, in addition to museums and walking tours, I wanted to visit a Concentration Camp to pay my respects to the millions of people who were viciously persecuted and murdered during the Holocaust.
This past June, Scott and I finally travelled to Germany, and took the opportunity while in Munich to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. You can reach Dachau from Munich in as little as 30 minutes and it’s an easy day-trip to make on your own. Once you get off the train in Dachau, it’s just a short bus ride to the site. Audio guides are available at the visitor centre for those who decide to self-tour. That all being said, we opted for a 5-hour scheduled tour of Dachau with Viator during our visit, in order to travel and tour the site with a guide who could provide us with the level of information we were looking for. I highly recommend booking a tour. We found it to be very worthwhile.
I won’t spend time talking about our experience, as it’s incredibly difficult to describe what it’s like to visit a place like Dachau. And with the exception of a few select photos, we did not take pictures. It didn’t feel right. The memorial site is a place of remembrance and learning, and the majority of our time was spent in our own thoughts as we listened to the information and stories told by our tour guide. It was a heavy and emotional morning.
Although Dachau was a somber place, and as hard as it was to experience, I’m grateful that we took the time to visit, learn, and to pay our respects. Travel isn’t just positive experiences. Sometimes, in order to fully understand the place you’re visiting, you also need to come face-to-face with the parts that are more difficult to accept. Visiting a concentration camp anywhere in Europe is an uncomfortable and incredibly sad experience, but it’s also a very important one. We can never forget.