gates of Dachau Concentration Camp

Holocaust lives on through lit. class

gates of Dachau Concentration Camp

The students of the Holocaust Literature class taught by Professor Ann Jordan, stand outside the gates of Dachau Concentration Camp. The inscription on the gates says “Work will make you free.” Photo courtesy of Professor Ann Jordan

The Holocaust was real. I have seen the scars on Germany’s face from the war.

I have seen the rooms Anne Frank walked while she and her family were in hiding for two years.

I have seen Dachau, the work labor concentration camp.

I walked through the same roll call ground where millions of prisoners stood every morning.

My Holocaust Literature class flew to Amsterdam at the start of winter break. We saw several Holocaust memorials and sites, such as the Anne Frank House and Dachau concentration camp.

After seeing these sites, I don’t understand how anyone could believe that the Holocaust did not happen. There are non-believers in who say that the Holocaust is a myth.

The bunkhouses no longer stand in Dachau, but their outlines remain. Only two are left; one was a bunkhouse and the other was the infirmary. Long and narrow, they still have a musty smell about them.

The primitive toilets stand in line at attention in the same place they stood in the 1940’s. The bunks are crowded into the next room.

Could you imagine sleeping in the same room with hundreds of other people, crammed into a bed with another person, when the bed is barely big enough for one?

The air was cold and crisp, biting through my fleece jacket. I had no gloves on and after an hour my hands were numb and I could barely move them.

Imagine winter in Germany of 1943, cold and snowing. How did they survive in rags and no proper clothing? It’s a miracle to me that some of them even survived the cold, not to mention the gas chambers and crematoriums.

The crematorium of Dachau still smells of human ash. I don’t think that the smell will ever leave the walls. There is debate about whether the gas chambers were used for mass killings in Dachau, but one thing was for sure, the ovens were used.

There were corpse storage rooms in the crematorium where bodies were piled high. There are photographs and clips of these rooms stuffed with dead prisoners. The fence surrounding Dachau is ominous and the watchtower still guards the fence line against any visitors.

Before Dachau, some Jewish people went into hiding, such as Anne Frank. The photographs she glued to her wall in her room in the Secret Annex are still there, protected by a sheet of plexi-glass.

The kitchen sink, used so many times by the Frank and Van Daan families, still stands against the wall. How many hands were washed, how much food was cleaned in that sink, while the families were terrified of being discovered?

The house sits on the canal in Amsterdam, Holland. It seems bigger than you would expect. It doesn’t seem as if those small rooms in the Secret Annex could have fit two families and their belongings.

I’ve seen the pages of Anne Frank’s diary. She wrote of her fear and her family’s fear. She wrote of the difficulties of the anti-Jewish laws, even if she didn’t fully understand them herself.

Everyone was affected by the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism of the Jewish people.

It is hard to imagine the horrors of the holocaust because it was before our time, but the evidence is still there. The concentration camps still illustrate the horrors that the Jewish people endured.

While Germany and Holland may not seem to be scarred from the World War II, in some neighborhoods the scars are still visible. In one of the first Jewish neighborhoods in Berlin sits a cemetery and school founded by the Jewish.

Outside of the cemetery is a monument that was supposed to sit outside a women’s concentration camp, but was placed outside of the cemetery instead.

There is also the Monument of Absence in one of the residential neighborhoods in Berlin. On either side of the walls of where the apartment complex used to stand are the names of the Jewish families who lived in the building.

There are also stumble stones which are placed on the streets outside of houses the where Jewish people lived. The stones have a Jewish person’s name and information on it, which can be reached when visiting

These stumble stones trip people while walking down the street as a reminder of the Holocaust and the millions of lives lost in the camps.

In the center of town, there is the Holocaust Memorial that consists of different sized blocks of cement that are meant to cause isolation and desolation when anyone walks through the maze. There are still bullet holes in the walls of some buildings that housed Jewish people when the Nazis fired upon them. These are just some of the scars Germany bears from the Holocaust.



Leave a Reply