(Photo by Ivan Bustamante, available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence)
I must admit, Dachau Concentration Camp was not a place I wanted to visit. After watching the documentary film there, I really didn’t want to see any more, and the entire time we were there I kept thinking about its purpose. It is a memorial, made so that people can come and remember what had happened there. But I kept asking myself this: Why remember? If I were one of the few prisoners who survived, remembering would be the last thing I would want to do—in fact, I would do anything to forget what had happened during those dark times.
Those people were starved, tortured, worked literally to death, deceived, and murdered. The film we watched called it slavery, but it was worse than slavery. At least a slave master wants his slaves to be in good health so that they can work well; the tenants of Dachau were only there for horror and humiliation.
Why remember? Finally it struck me—not from within but from a monument with these words: “May the example of those who were exterminated here…because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defense of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men.” The survivors came back and remembered because they didn’t want it to happen again. I fear that if something like this does reappear, it will come as subtly and deceitfully as Hitler’s ideas came—but perhaps memorials like Dachau will do their part to convince mankind of the horror that such ideas can bring.