Date: May 1 2015
Written by: Franky Pun and Uma Swamy
The day started dreary, wet and dull, setting the mood for our visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp. The group assembled at 8.45 in the lobby and walked to the Hauptbanhof Station and from there we went to the Dachau Concentration Camp. There we were meet by our tour guide Ms. Antje who took us through a tour of the camp.
Our walk started at the entrance of the camp where the words ‘Work Makes You Free’ were engraved on the gate.
The Dachau Concentration was a propaganda camp where the conditions were supposedly much better than the other camps. In fact, this is the week that the country is celebrating the 70th year of the closure of the camp and there were a series of events were carried out with some of which were attended by Angela Merkel.
Stories were recounted about the horrors of how people were systematically interred in these camps and gradually eliminated. It initially started with political prisoners then moved on to sick, handicapped and mentally ill people, then on to Romas and Gypsies and finally to Jews. The Jewish prisoners were initially segregated in Ghettos and later they were transported to the Concentration camps. Antje told us the story about one of the youngest inmates of the Concentration Camp Bernard Marks, who was able to survive the ordeal through the ingenuity of his father. He was in the camp for five years from the age of 8 to 13.
To our surprise, when Antje was talking to us about Bernard, he walked through the room. He was there in the Dachau Concentration Camp for the 70th Anniversary of the closure of the camp and was scheduled to give interviews to the Chinese and Japanese television. He recounted some of the horrors of his experience there. However, looking at him as a person, you could feel his positive spirit and his zest for life. When asked “Did he have hope” he told “He had a pact with God and so he believed he would survive.” He had brought with him some copies of his book “Yingele Nit Vein” about the experience in the Camp and we were lucky enough to have his autographed books.
Once the tour was done, we had lunch at a restaurant near the bus stop. The food was delicious and typical German fare. Once we finished lunch everybody broke up to go about their own way. Some of them went to see the German National Socialism Archive Museum and later went to the Mini Oktoberfest, called “Fruhlingsfest” and the Beer Gardens.
Though the day began in a somber mode, since it was the last day in Munich and the team was due to depart to Koblenz the next day, the day ended with very high spirits ( 🙂 No pun intended)