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"Paying Attention"

I will claim that this is neither a historical nor political page, though the posts are based on my past experiences and sometimes a bit opinionated. I suppose they are historical to my context, but not meant as a historical analysis of past events or political blah blah.




This photo is from my first trip overseas in 1981. Hard to imagine then that someday I would share this pic and the emotions it provoked, especially through a yet-to-be-invented technology called the internet. But here we are.


I am neither Jewish nor a holocaust victim. Not a veteran of the Second World War. For several reasons this war holds a high interest with me, which is why I took a train to this spot just north of Munich, Germany designated the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial.


Yes, I know. There are many places to see in Bavaria and I did pay due respect to every Hofbräuhaus site I could find. I also understand that Dachau is not on anyone’s best places to visit list nor a must see in TripAdvisor.


Which, of course, is one reason why I took the train.


The other reason was to conduct a reality check on my understanding of the unimaginable horror of what can happen to the human condition when shit goes sideways. You can read all you can stomach on this war, a dictator’s insanity, Nazi perversions, the holocaust. But for a go at answers, I must see it, touch it, smell it. Only then, can I try to imagine it.


Little did I know about the challenge ahead to try and imagine this place.


The five-acre memorial is located at the original concentration camp site west of the city. A twelve-foot barbed wire and cement-posted fence surrounds the entire facility complete with restored guard towers and the prisoner entrance gate. The infamous welcome sign, "Arbeit yacht Frei" (Work sets you free), greets you upon entering. Part of the Nazi ruse. they also restored two of the 34 prisoner barracks, numerous maintenance building, and the camp prison.

Yes, those SS Nazi guard virtuosos felt thinned for a person inside a concentration camp. I'll let it go.

I photographed most of the site, creating different angels and perspectives. It was an overcast, gray day, bad light, bit of a chill. I remember the silence. there were others roaming the grounds, but few voices. Only whispers. there are chapels, too. Places to pray or remember or cry. I did none of that. I was there to imaging it. The pics were fine but unassuming at best.

Except one.

They label it a crematorium. Okay, technically the furnaces at Dachau were crematoriums in that they cremated human bodies. Some call them ovens, which they are not. They did not bake breather. In my book, "crematorium" is much too kind and way to soft. Crematorium suggests to me a respectful funeral ceremony; a property handling of burial of ashes; perhaps a religious ceremony; a memorial service for the family. Crematorium just does not work.

Nope, not here.

The extermination building that houses this furnace is off the main site. a short walk to an ironically hidden peaceful grove of greenery. I won't wast space on victim number, the years of operation, or camp comparison. Trust me, gruesome stats. Yet some historians make the point that Dachau was not purposed originally as an extermination camp.

I refusal slit that hair. Thecamp opened in 1933. first camp build. The truth about this place was known for years. These furnaces were put into operation in 1943 in a building named "barrack x." Barrack x included four furnaces, a clothing disinfection chamber, sanitary facilities, morgues, and a gas chamber disguised as a "shower bath." Up to you, but under my criteria that screams extermination.

I would suggest the item"extermination crematorium." Boom and sorted. My point is that extermination crematorium furnaces at Dachau are a clear representation of a most evel chapter of the human account. All you need do is look.

I stood in front os this two-chambered horror show and tried to capture it. I did not use a flash. I did not use a photo enhancer. Just took a knee and snapped.

My mind personalized it immediately. If I were here then, could I survive? If not, how would I lost it? Would my ashes be shoveled from this hell chamber into a pit down the road? If they stole my family, how would I survive that? I tried to imagine them being hauled away and packed into a freight car to end up in smoke.

These were one-way doors, the dark chambers a last step in the final solution from an evil dictator operated by evil doers. A human being ordered someone to build this place to eliminate other human beings and then other human beings knowingly built it and operated it for one reason. All you need to is pay attention.

I stayed with it for a while, they gave up. I failed. I had no answers. I could not imagine it. But I did not turn away.

This post is meant to be more a visual force that a buzz kill. just trying to keee our minds sorted as that horror recedes and new ones arise. Dachau happened. It happened again; in different guises and in different places, and it's out there still happening. You can find it if you look. I left Dachau and I treurned to Munich. Oktoberfest was happening and there were still sites to see. Years later, I remember that sullen day when I got smacked in the face with something unexpected. I still have no answers to the Dachau extermination furnaces, but Dachau taught me to look, pay attention and not ignore it. I touched them. They are real. When confronted with that raw reality, I did not turn away.

It's 2024. Take a quick look around. Pay a little attention. Try not to turn away.

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