A visit to Dachau ... April 30, 1999.
Since I was in the vicinity, I thought I’d take a look at Dachau.
I’d learned not long before that my father had been among the U. S. troops that had liberated the Nazi death camp on April 29, 1945. I just this moment realized the coincidence that it was April 30, 1999, when I visited. And here—lightly edited—is what I wrote in my journal about my visit:
Dachau was not all that easy to find (what community would want to advertise itself as the home of a Nazi death camp?), but it was worth the effort. Only 3 DM to park, and then a vast area, paved with gravel. Only two barracks have been reconstructed, but the foundations of the others remain—as does the crematorium, with ovens in place. There were not many people there—a few couples, and a school group featuring the usual assortment of bored adolescents. I found a plaque that said the camp was liberated by the 20th Armored Div., Seventh Army, on 29 April 1945. Such a stark, banal place, where there was nowhere for screams to echo. Dachau, the village, has a McDonald’s.
That really stunned me at the time, the Mickey D’s.
And I think how inconceivable it would have been to Mary Shelley, traveling through Germany in 1814, then again in 1842–43, that one day a century later, near where she traveled, the government of a “civilized” country would be murdering millions of people.
Photos from that 1999 visit.