set free

Dachau Travel Blog

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"Work Will Set You Free"

We just finished our tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp, which was the original concentration camp or "parent" camp. It was the training ground for the SS, for the SS doctors, for torture, execution, humiliation, and brutality. Upon entereing the gates, individuals who had been successful politicians, businessmen, artists, musicians, authors, professors, loving mothers, fathers, and priceless children found themselves condemned to a life never known to man... one of intense humiliation, fear, pain, discomfort, and loss. Those in control of the camp tried desperately to take everything away from the people including their self-worth by degrading and humiliating them upon arrival... cutting their hair, making their parade around naked, beating them, calling them the scum of the earth and treating them as such.

How could one survive this? How did someone think of torturing others like this? How did they become convinced that others were less than they? How did one's race, country, or religious views determine one's sense of value or worth? How did doctors who were originally taught to preserve life.. to heal.. become so warped?

The motto of the camp, as seen in the majority of the camps is: Work Sets You Free. The men and women worked 12-14 hour days, and only some were given the bare minimal amount of food. They wasted away, which weakened them, and many perished as a result of starvation. I'm amazed by the horror that people experienced on an hourly or daily basis. I read about what happened, however, nothing prepared me for seeing it in person.

One of the memorials in particular brought hope and light.

It was a memorial honoring the Jews who perished. the roof and the rest of the building was pitch black marking the suffering, gloom, sorrow, pain, and anguish. A deep sense of sadness accompanies one as one walks down into the covered memorial. Upon entering, however, light floods the end of the tunnel bringing a sense of hope.. there is light at the end of the tunnel. I think that this depicts the lives of these incredible survivors and martyrs. You have to focus on the positive in order to make it through the dark times even if it meant being given the chance to look up to see the sky. Psalm 117 was inscribed on one of the walls. It says, "Praise the LORD all you nations; all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the Lord." This is a message that peopel wanted to leave with the rest of the world. Still they saw God's love as great. Still they saw God's faithfulness as one that endures forever. Still they praised God. This brought them hope. This brought them life.

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photo by: spocklogic