Haunting. Eerie. Life-changing. These are just some of the words that can be used to describe the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Dachau is only 30 kilometres away from the humdrum of Munich, but it seems like a different world. An idyllic town, it is nestled deep within the Bavarian countryside, with the Alps looming in the background.
But it has a sinister secret – Dachau is the site of the world’s first Nazi Concentration Camp.
It might sound strange to you, but we could feel the ominous history of the place as we entered the Camp courtyard. I don’t know if it was the minimalist architecture of the building or the skeletal sculptures dedicated to the prisoners of the Camp, but the eeriness of the site was tangible.
We took our time exploring the exterior of the buildings. As we ran our fingertips across the walls of the Prisoners’ Barracks, we realised there was no hiding from its appalling history. That’s when it struck us – the complex is eerie not because of the architecture or the sculptures but the pin-drop silence – this, despite hundreds (if not thousands) of people in the compound.
Everywhere around us tourists seemed to be dumbstruck by this shocking reminder of one of the most audacious crimes of the twentieth century. No one seemed to be talking
The Dachau Concentration Camp Complex
An installation to commemorate the skeletal bodies of people at the Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau Concentration Camp is said to have held thousands of ‘enemies of the state’ – Jews, Communists, Socialists, homo-sexuals, and political prisoners from Poland, Yugoslavia and a number of other countries. The leaflet we were handed at the entrance informed us that over 42,000 prisoners died at Dachau due to overwork, malnutrition, and poor hygiene.
I will not lie- we stepped inside the building with heavy hearts. The extensive exhibit on the inside introduced us to the history of the Dachau Concentration Camp. All information was corroborated with bleak visuals, ones that made us want to shield our eyes.
Exhibit at the Dachau Concentration Camp
The exhibit ended. We walked through the main building, crematorium, showers, chapels, and memorials trying to absorb everything.
Then, we turned into the East Wing of the Camp Prison – that little corridor which lies untouched by time. We took tentative steps towards the cells, and saw prisoners’ sinks, toilets, and doors telling tales of torture and violence. In the East Wing of the Camp Prison time stands still – this menacing corridor haunted us for the rest of our day, long after we had left the complex.
East Wing of the Camp Prison
As we made our way out, a little placard reminded us that the foundation that maintains the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial wants it to be “a site of remembrance of the victims’ suffering and a site of learning for future generations”. That is why we recommend visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp. It will give everyone food for thought – looking at the unbelievable sufferings of prisoners at this Nazi Concentration Camp makes one realise the futility of a State trying to fit all impulses under one homogenous umbrella.
We came away more determined than ever to QUESTION CONFORMITY and CELEBRATE DIFFERENCE.
- Entry to the Dachau Concentration Camp is free
- Parking costs €3
- The Concentration Camp is easily reachable by public transport. Take the S2 train from Munich towards Petershausen. The train takes 20 minutes to reach Dachau Station. Once you’re there, take bus 726 towards Saubachsiedlung. The bus will drop you right in front of the Concentration Camp Memorial. More information here
- Keep aside at least 4-5 hours to explore the Concentration Camp
- Make sure you watch the short documentary which is played on loop, in various languages, in the exhibition area. It will send chills down your spine.
28 thoughts on “Dachau Concentration Camp: A Somber but Unmissable Day Trip from Munich”
Somber indeed…One gets the impression of a nightmarish history living in the corridors of the camp after reading your article.
and u were so right…something about that dimly lit,eerie corridor…with those sad, silent hanging lamps…that image stays with you for a long time
It does Sugandha – we had planned to visit a castle after the Concentration Camp but we never made it there. That corridor haunted us for the rest of the day
A very well written article…….you make it sound so realistic,that it almost felt as though we would see some prisoner moving in the dimly lit cirridor…..eerie no doubt but many lessons to be learnt from there I’m sure.And yes these images will keep replaying in my head trying to form a picture of their own.
It was spooky indeed- peeping into those rooms was even scarier. They held the tiniest of beds for dozens of prisoners.
This reminds me of the cellular jail in Port Blair. It has very similar corridors – has the same ring to it.
Stuti we haven’t been to Port Blair, but have seen similar pictures of the cellular jail. Would you recommend a visit?
Most definitely! And cellular jail is just a small part of the list of reasons you should go to Andaman islands.
Aye- the beaches look stunning too. I hope we get to go to Andaman Islands soon 🙂
I was at Auschwitz concentration camp last October, and it indeed was the darkest experience I’ve had so far. You read about it, but when you’re there for real, the scale at which all of it was done just blows you away. Unforgettable!!
Well put Kaushal – nothing could have prepared us for it. It was indeed the darkest experience ever, but I guess what matters is what one takes away from it
Truly eerie! The corridor pic reminds me of the movie, ‘The Green Mile’. The picture as your tale-telling does total justice to the grim aftermath of the hapless prisoners. Interesting post, though!
Thanks Dee. We know it isn’t our most pleasant post but we wanted to share our experience anyway. Your comment makes us glad we did 🙂
Pretty sad but important to visit these places and really see the images and stories being told. I love that last shot with the corridors in different colors
Thanks Noel- that corridor was quite something. I agree – it is important to visit these places and take away something positive from them.
definitely going here in August – thanks for the fact file that’s a useful reference.
You’re welcome Dave. Dachau Concentration Camp is an intriguing place – I’m looking forward to seeing what you make of it.
I haven’t been yet, but my husband went recently. He was very humbled by the visit and said also that it feels eerie. It was a very rainy, cold day when he visited and said that added to the mood of the place.
Jennifer that was exactly what it was like for us- we went on a grey day and the weather made the place even more ominous.
I visited here twenty years ago and the images are still strong in my mind. As you mention, no-one spoke, each in their own world soaking in the unthinkable that only occurred so recently in our history. You captured the place so well.
Thank you Mark – it’s good to know that we were not the only ones affected by the place. I agree with you, these images, especially the ominous corridor, will stay with me for a while
Going here next month, thanks for the handy description.Is it advisable to do this trip on your own, or rather take a guided tour through some company in Munich (Tours cost around 30Euros incudling transportation from and fro Munich).
Thanks a lot
Hey Ravi – If you’re renting a car you can easily do this on your own, no problem 🙂 However if you don’t have a car, it might be worth taking a guided tour.
Very well written and captured what I felt when I visited a couple of years back. But people hardly visit these places due to the history but this was one of the first places I visited when I was in Munich.
Yes it’s eerie, isn’t it?
THANK YO SO MUCH for this amazing itinerary!! It was very helpful for my German B1 presentation. One fine day i am going to follow this itinerary. Btw you guys are couple goals! Lots of love and power to you both!!!
Happy to hear that 🙂 You’re welcome !!
I was in Ingolstadt for 3.5 weeks a few years ago, which is only about 45 minutes from here. I never actually made the trip out, I couldn’t bear to face it by myself, so thanks for writing this. Sobering for sure.