I'm packing my bags to leave for Spain tomorrow night. We'll get there early Monday morning, and will travese the southern Spanish countryside. Around Wednesday my brother and I will leave our parents in Spain and take a train and ferry down to Morocco. Among the things we hope to procure in Morocco are fine coffee, sunburns, and the weariness that results from anticipation/fulfillment and excessive travelling. Among the things we do not hope to procure are diseases, complimentary bullets from bandits, and vermin. I'll post some pics when I'm back.
If you're reading this blog, then presumably you are a friend, acquaintance, family member, or mortal enemy of mine, and thus you are presumably aware of the fact that I'm currently residing in Germany. I've gotten to travel a bit here and there. So I guess I'll tell a little bit about where I've gone thus far.
My first trip in Europe took me to Dachau. The remainders of the camp now act as a museum, fitted with photos and detailed historical charts that tell how and why Dachau existed. Hundreds of grainy black and white photos leave visitors to the museum with a set of faces to attach historical details to, making the Holocaust far less distant. One leaves the museum to find a list of the writings of survivors of Dachau, those who recorded their experiences to keep them from passing forgotten into the archives of history.
Dachau was one of the early concentration camps and served as a model for many others. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned there over the years, almost a third of which were Jews.
This was my second time visiting. The place was quieter than I remembered. A few teens bustled around, wading through the silence with cumbersome attempts at jocularity, apparently unable or unwilling to comprehend the staggering list of evils that "Dachau" is shorthand for. Excepting the pockets of white noise that those folks filled, the place was shrouded in silence. I guess that's probably the only appropriate answer to the questions of *why* and *how* that inevitably inevitably pop into the minds of the stonefaced observers. A people who claim divine choice were chosen for the crematoria of German concentration camps. Kinda kills conversation.
It's not for everyone. If you're already depressed or are prone to long fits of staring into oblivion and attempting to comprehend the unfathomable darkness of the human heart, then maybe you should skip Dachau. Otherwise, though, it’s worth a visit. Humanity has an obligation to itself to continually remind itself of what we’re capable of.
Samuel Pisar, a survivor of the concentration camps, plead for this awareness of the darkness of the world’s recent history: “In the autumn of their lives, the survivors of Auschwitz feel a visceral need to transmit what we have endured, to warn younger generations that today's intolerance, fanaticism and hatred can destroy their world as they once destroyed ours, that powerful alert systems must be built . . . above all against the folly of man. Because we know from bitter experience that the human animal is capable of the worst, as well as the best--of madness as of genius -- and that the unthinkable remains possible. "
Next week, or maybe next month, or maybe whenever I get around to it, I'll try to jot a few notes about my trips to Switzerland and the Czech Republic.