My book club selected two books on Nazi Germany to read this month - the Book Thief and Maus. I would recommend both wholeheartedly to anyone looking for something new to read. But I'm not here to recommend books, and that's certainly not why you look at this blog. No, I mention these books because they made me want to share these photos with you.
The Book Thief is set in a town outside of Dachau, and I felt particularly moved when I read of the long marches of Jewish prisoners headed to Dachau in that book, because, you see, I had visited Dachau when I was in Germany for work a couple years ago.
According to Wikipedia, Dachau concentration camp was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany, located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. It opened in March 1933 as the first regular concentration camp established by the Nazis and served as a model for other concentration camps that followed. It's not clear how many individuals passed through and suffered at Dachau, but one source estimates that over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were here, of whom two-thirds were political prisoners and nearly one-third were Jewish. Over 25,000 prisoners died here, with another 10,000 dying in subcamps established at satellite locations. The number of deaths only increased as, toward the end of war, death marches to and from the camp weakened and killed scores of prisoners.
Most of the buildings don't exist on the grounds anymore. You can just see the gravel filled outlines of the buildings' footprints. Skeletons whispering of the enormity of what happened.
As is patently obvious from these pictures, it was a beautiful day. An oddly, strangely beautiful day to visit a location where such terrible atrocities were committed. The sky was bright blue, dotted with soft and puffy clouds. The weather was mild, neither too hot nor too cold. I couldn't believe how lovely it was. But it really made me think. There had to be beautiful days when Dachau was being used for things-too-terrible-to-write. Days when you couldn't believe how nice it was when terrible things happened in the world.
If you want to know anything more about these particular photos and what they show, please ask.