It's not the usual holiday trip where one admires the views and the beauty spots. It's rather sombre, I couldn't consecutively share this post after my sun-worshipping and beer-drinking intercontinental jaunts. I needed a very good push to publish this.
It came via a missing wrought-iron gate.
|'ARBEIT MACHT FREI' or 'Work sets you free.', as seen at the main entrance of Dachau Concentration Camp, near Munich. Part of the original wrought-iron gate was stolen yesterday, 2 November 2014. I took this photo in late August this year.|
Other concentration and death camps bore the same cynical slogan that was part of the Nazis' propaganda to 'humanise' forced labour which was part and parcel of their aim to torture, and eventually, to annihilate.
Some of you who have virtually come with me in some of my travels may be aware now that my childhood interest in modern European history and World War II has taken me to places I've only read and come across in history books and documentaries. From the secret bunkers of Berlin during the Cold War, to the Eagle's Nest and the former site of the Berghof, I use my limited holiday allowance to go beyond the book chapters and TV schedules.
Dachau is a medieval town near Munich, where the first concentration camp was set up by the Nazis in 1933. There were 32,000 documented deaths in the camp, and more undocumented.
|A memorial to camp prisoners who took their own lives in act of defiance to the Nazis who were keeping them for forced labour until they can no longer hold out to the physical torture, or they were murdered when deemed useless for work.|
|The prisoners were colour-coded based on the Nazis' view of their ranking in society.|
|We were told that if reports were accurate, victims were immediately shoved into the oven after being released from being hoisted up. Notice the pulleys up the ceiling.|
|The sign that leads to the crematorium reads: 'Think about how we died here.'|
|The gas chamber. Next door is the waiting room where the victims had no idea of the fate that awaited them.|
|The former site of the barracks|
|1 is not just a number. Many of the descendants who learned of their missing relatives' incarceration in a specific numbered barrack have at least a place to pay their respects for the departed.|
|The barracks as pictured above|
During one of the darkest periods in European history, lives and freedom were stolen inside this camp. Now, part of the memorial that witnessed the victims' struggle wasn't spared of being stolen. In our minds, we have shut the gate to that time, but it can't be helped that incidents such as this proves otherwise.