Southern Illinois University School of Law–Legal Globalization & Comparative Law 2014

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Dachau and The Documentation Center

 

Gate at the Dachau Concentration Camp; translated, the words mean "Work Will Set You Free"

Gate at the Dachau Concentration Camp; translated, the words mean “Work Will Set You Free”

At Dachau Concentration Camp

At Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau: A friend of mine had visited the Dachau concentration camp and she warned me that it was very unnerving, and to mentally prepare myself before I went there.  Seeing the camp definitely had a large effect on me, but not the one that I had expected or even anticipated.  I expected to be appalled by the pictures, the body counts, the atrocities committed.  I saw that coming.  What I didn’t see coming was an incredible sense of national pride.  I saw the iron gates that said “through work, you are free” which translates to “we will work you hard until you die here.”  I knew that terrible things happened at Dachau.  But what I didn’t expect to see were the words “U.S. Army” plastered everywhere, by just about every picture, on almost every wall.  The United States liberated the camp at Dachau, they were there to witness what was still left.  The US Army freed the survivors of the camp.  The US Army smashed through the German defenses, marched across the country, and stopped the atrocities that were happening there.  The When I saw the sculptures and paintings, saw the words “never again” large and bold, I was reminded what awful things had happened here, and that the camp still stood as a reminder to us all, so that we may never let history repeat itself.  I had expected to see that, to feel what comes along with knowing that human beings did that.  I had not expected to leave there incredibly proud to be an American, to be a citizen of the country who put an end to that camp for good.

 

Documentation Centre / Nazi Rally Grounds:  I hadn’t known much about the Nazi rally grounds before visiting this museum.  I had known that Hitler was someone who made grand speeches and was very in the public eye.  I had not known much about the megalomania that gripped the Nazi regime.  So much was planned to be built and so much was already built, the congress hall, the hall of honour, the zeppelin field, the German stadium.  The absurdity of it boggled my mind, why anyone would waste so much in resources, but then I thought about it for a little bit, it really reminded me of roman times when the Romans would put on big shows in the coliseum to distract the people from the poverty and war that was happening throughout their country.  It’s very possible that all of these grand gestures were there to distract the German people and even the military from the genocide that was all around them.

~LL

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