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Continued - Dachau Blues...

By Phil Guidry

There is a museum on the premises, and it serves as a horrifying living timeline of the cumulative events of the slaughter. Early anti-Semitic propaganda, often nothing more than a flyer, poster, or pamphlet, hang on the walls in the first stages of the museum. I felt my flesh crawl as I witnessed, before my eyes, the rise to power of a xenophobic, horrific ideal, an ideal that changed the way we look at each other and ourselves.

My insides went numb as it progressively (and surprisingly rapidly) got worse. The photographs are notorious; as I examined them, I felt pangs of guilt for even coming to such a place. I had trouble breathing, and my heart hammered away in my chest. I stopped just short of the last set of photos - those related to the "tests" performed on the prisoners at this camp. I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air; there was none.

I came here searching for answers, and all I got were more questions. The propaganda I'd read reiterated a need to banish all undesirable peoples from Germany, in order to craft a 'perfect' society. Why, then, were tens of thousands of Jews brought into Dachau from France and other outlying regions? No, this wasn't simply the handiwork of an evil, powerful regime. It was the worst humanity has to offer, an evil that manifests itself once in a millennium. And this camp represents ground zero for that manifestation.

To be honest, I'd always struggled with the concept that six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Six million? That number seemed so intangible, so unreal, that it was impossible for me to comprehend. I'm not Jewish, so there has always been that gap between what I read and understand, and what I truly feel. I understand what happened here, but I do not feel it. Until now.


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