This is Part Eight in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Nicole and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip in less than a month, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!
As our Bavarian roadtrip neared its end, we had a few boxes left to check. When we’d started planning this excursion, I had one “must-see” near Munich, but I hesitated to tell Nicole. Would she think I was weird? Then, during one planning dinner, she said, “It might sound weird, but there’s someplace I really want to see.” We both simultaneously blurted out “Dachau.”
To some, the idea of visiting a concentration camp on vacation might seem dark, depressing, grisly, or just plain tacky. For us, though, visiting Dachau wasn’t about witnessing the site of an atrocity, but about honoring its victims.
It was a strange day. After more than a week of mostly overcast skies and snow, we drove up the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site amid cerulean blue skies and a blazing sun. It was the best weather of our trip, which only served to make our time at the memorial all the more emotional.
For me, the most heart-wrenching moment of our tour wasn’t the “showers” or the crematorium, but our short walk through the forest behind the main buildings. The site of various execution ranges, the area has almost entirely been taken back by nature. It is disturbingly… peaceful… now. The camp is located along a small stream, and I couldn’t help but think what many a prisoner must also have imagined: You could just float down that stream to safety. Until you see that the banks are still filled with coiled barbed wire.
The memorial is huge—not just the actual out-buildings, but the large, comprehensive museum inside, which will teach you more about the Holocaust, its roots, and its aftermath than you could imagine. Before our visit, Nic and I figured we’d blow through in about an hour. We spent four, and it was worth every second. If you are in the Munich area, I highly recommend a trip to the memorial.