2005 marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of most Nazi concentration camps in the closing months of the Second World War. All over an exhausted Europe, advancing Allied soldiers set free the desperate survivors of camp after camp. The diseased, the starving, the barely alive emerged to tell a shocked and disbelieving world of the full horror of a network of systematized murder, torture, degradation and exploitation that had first been set in motion in 1933 in a town, 18 km from Munich.
Just outside the medieval town center of Dachau, a Memorial Site stands on the grounds of the former concentration camp. This was the 'parent' camp. Dachau was the 'Academy of Terror', the originator, role-model and training ground for the vast order of brutality that spread over half of Europe in the wake of the armies of the Third Reich, and which ultimately culminated in history's greatest crime, the Final Solution.
While each camp was responsible for its own particular form of barbarism, what distinguished Dachau is that almost everything that happened in the system as a whole happened at some level there. Almost every category of victim passed through its infamous Arbeit macht frei (Freedom through Work) gate, German dissidents, outspoken clergymen, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, Jews, Polish civilians, all in all the citizens of some 34 nations. Today's Memorial Site combines the historical authenticity of the original environment and its many surviving buildings with the function of a modern exhibition center. It is a place of memory, of pilgrimage and of education.
- © Viator2013
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