Pain. Misery. Death. That’s what life was like for the prisoners of Dachau concentration camp. Today our hearts were shattered into millions of pieces when we visited the site of merciless Nazi humiliation, torture, and murder. Words cannot describe the feeling inside of you when you stand at the place where the horrors of the holocaust took place. Today was a day of introspection for me. I truly believe that what we saw today was the remnants of the darkest part of humanity, a part of humanity that is still evident and exists today. What we saw today on the gravel roads of Dachau will be prominent in my memory forever.
I was broken today. Innocent people, tortured and murdered, for what? What motivation? What’s the reason behind it all? I still don’t have the answers to these questions, and I probably won’t for a good while. It’s hard to write about the experience of Dachau because it leaves you speechless. The terror and pain that one plot of land contained is enough to sit down and really think about the meaning of life and what your duty as a human is.
So that’s exactly what I did today. I sat down in the Catholic Chapel on Dachau’s grounds. I just sat and thought, and I realized that what I had witnessed, what I believed to be the darkest part of humanity, was actually the darkest part of myself. So many times I have hurt another human being, I have done wrong to my fellow man, and that doesn’t make me any better than the Nazis. We all have this darkness inside of us, and what scared me about Dachau is that it showed me what hatred can accomplish. If we subscribe to this darkness inside of us, we can go about causing death and destruction to anything and anyone that comes across our path.
There is hope though. On April 29, 1945, US forces liberated the prisoners at Dachau. The darkness was not allowed to continue and the killing of innocent lives was brought to a screeching halt. We too have been liberated from our darkness, and that was done by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us all. As I thought some more, I came to the conclusion that the darkness inside of us isn’t a part of who we are. It’s not something that controls us. We control the darkness. If we let things get out of hand, we can end up being so consumed with hatred that the darkness seems to run our lives because we can become one with the darkness, and the results of that are…unspeakable.
Let’s shift the topic into present day. These issues have not gone away. As I said before, the darkness is inside all of us. We are all capable of the injustices that occurred between 1933-1945. It is our job as humans regardless of demographics that we think may separate us to ensure that this never happens again. It is our job to quell the darkness inside of us and rise above what differences we may think keep us from loving one another and stop the pain and the suffering that we bring upon each other. Everyone should visit Dachau, or some other concentration camp. It is impossible to come out viewing the world the same way you viewed it before you walked through its gates. Hell’s home base rested in the concentration camps. That’s something that can’t be erased from memory.
Memory is the biggest key. Remembering how this happened is at the center of ensuring it doesn’t occur again, because it can. It is our job to educate the young and bring up good citizens that respect one another. The dehumanizing factor in Dachau was immensely important to the carrying out of inhumane torture and murder. The moment we forget that everyone is on an equal playing field and everyone is a human being is the moment that the human race ceases to exist. My heart will forever hurt for the victims of Dachau, but I will do everything possible to make sure that this world I live in, the world I hope to raise my children in, does not fall back into the horrors that I saw today.
My favorite place in Dachau was a memorial that read “Never Again” in multiple languages. Never again can we let an entire race of people be discriminated against, and especially not to the point of brutal murder of innocent lives. I learned a lot about history, myself, and the present state of the world today at Dachau. Injustices will try to rise again. The darkness inside of us all will once again try to rear its ugly head. Never again.