- Dachau Blues...
By Phil Guidry
I walk the rest of the premises, doing my best to pay attention
to the other landmarks of the camp: the barracks, the main hall,
the chapels and synagogues, the guard towers. But my eyes keep wandering
over to a large black sign with white lettering. It has a haunting
ring to it, even in German: Krematorium.
You cannot spend very long in the Krematorium at Dachau. Anyone
with a soul simply cannot stand it for more than a few moments.
There are the ovens, plain as day right before you. It still does
not make sense. There are other, darker chambers and crannies. Plain,
lifeless concrete walls usher you deeper into this tiny maze of
murder. Next comes a room with a low, flat ceiling and dim, murky
light. You step inside, trying to get your bearings. Then it hits
you, and you feel waves of nausea. You hurry out, unable to breathe.
This is the shower room.
Emerging from the Krematorium is like going through a life-changing
revelation. I felt weak, inquisitive, and somehow even more confused
than before. But there was one thing I knew: I was glad to be out
Then I walked back across the grounds, and the gravel crunched
under my feet once more. Even without closing my eyes I could imagine
this place, packed to the gills with the lowly and the unfortunate,
while a sickening gray pall hung over what was once one of the most
charming villages in Germany. On my way out I said goodbye to a
wrinkled old man who stood at the camp's information desk. He looked
to be in his 70's or 80's. I wondered if he was German, or Jewish,
or something else. But, I realized, it didn't matter. Dachau affects
you, it gets into your brain, your mind, and your heart. It doesn't
matter who you are.