When in Munich, I booked a day trip to visit Dachau concentration camp. Is it a good idea? I’m still not sure about it.
The Nazis and the horrors of concentration camps were well covered during my history lessons at school. Sometimes too much. Writing this post tonight may bring back nightmares because of the unbearable photos and videos from documentaries I saw on the topic. Still, I think it’s good that we know about it that much and that we don’t forget how bad it was; I hope it can help not to repeat History.
Learning about the propaganda and how the Nazis got elected is essential to open our eyes to some dangers in politics. And keeping in mind the tragedy of the concentration camps is necessary to remember how far some humans can go for an ideology and how a minority of haters managed to raise an army and get followers to help them destroy some populations.
From the minute I thought about booking a visit to Dachau concentration camp, I knew it would be a heavy and challenging moment. The idea was already making me shiver and feel uncomfortable. No envy nor excitation at all, no arousal from curiosity, no expectations… I didn’t really want to go.
Honestly, isn’t a kind of sordid voyeurism? Or was I just using this excuse because I didn’t feel brave enough?
I truly wasn’t sure I could cope with it. I didn’t need to see more horrors and learn more details about these places. I’m not particularly a history fan. I was not attracted to the negative vibes and feeling to stand where thousands of people got tortured and killed. I don’t think I owe visits to tragic places for those who fought for my freedom: for me, there are many other ways to remember them with more regular and meaningful actions in my life.
I actually had no desire at all to visit Dachau concentration camp.
But here I was, in Munich, about half an hour from Dachau. As close as I would ever be to one of the first Nazi concentration camps established soon after Hitler took power back in 1933. Munich was just a quick stopover on my way back to France from Austria. I had never considered the possibility of visiting a concentration camp before my new friend from the hostel dormitory raised the idea. She was going there the next day. As I had no plan, she offered me to join what is known to be one of the best day trips from Munich.
I finally stopped thinking about it and decided to follow her steps to a closer look at a dark side of European History.
I had no particular reason to visit Dachau concentration camp. Sorry, there is no obvious answer to the “why” question. It might have been the fear to regret to skip it more than I could ever regret to go there.
As expected, the visit was moving and highly uncomfortable.
I felt sick many times, but I never regretted my decision to join the tour. I recommend it to those who are hesitating. From my experience, the guide was essential to make the visit interesting and worthwhile. It takes a whole new dimension sharing the visit with someone passionate and highly knowledgeable who provides explanations and answers questions. A professional guide enhances the history lesson and memorial work. It helped to picture what was happening there and to imagine slightly how hard life and survival could have been. Of course, I read about it more than once. But hearing the stories while standing there makes it real. The impact is a lot greater with some connection happening.
This historical tour can leave many open questions about today’s world and humanity.
Have you ever visited a concentration camp? Why? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Dachau concentration camp?
Dachau is in the South of Germany, about 20 kilometres north of Munich. We were told it is a charming village to visit, although it is mainly known for its horrific concentration camp.
To go from Munich to Dachau concentration camp, you can:
- Catch a train. It’s the quickest and most comfortable way. It only takes about 20 minutes with the normal train (S-Bahn S2 line) to go from the centre of Munich to Dachau. From Dachau train station, you can catch the bus 726 to visit Dachau concentration camp. You can get the Munich XXL Pass at an automated machine. It will cover your trip from Munich to Dachau concentration camp by train and bus. Check out these directions, and you will not get lost!
- Drive. Munich is easy to reach as it’s connected by two highways: A8 and A9. It takes about half an hour to drive from Munich to Dachau concentration camp: take the A9 (Nuremberg) then the A99,then A92 to the Dachau exit, and finally the B471 towards to the Dachau-Ost exit. There is a parking on Alte Römerstraße but you may have to pay.
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Eloise lives in Brisbane (Australia), but you won’t find her often in the city. When she is not disconnected underwater or in a national park, she loves sharing her travel tips and inspiring her readers to take care of our beautiful planet. She considers every weekend as a two-day holiday break. Her approach: you don’t always need to go far to travel. Still, she also enjoys exploring the world and discovering new cultures. Eloise is originally from France and, before moving to Brisbane, she lived in Sydney, Istanbul and England.