A Day at Dachau (previous blog piece)
A Day at Dachau
By: B. F. Harvey
This past summer, I was on tour in Eastern Europe, the continent of darkness, as referred to by the Greeks. And there were many days spent exploring, reinventing, and infinitely dreaming. Dreaming in the way that we were in the dream, seeing a place where the mountains were truly green, the air fresh, and all was a fantasy. But there was one day when I was in a nightmare. Or rather, more specifically, I was living others nightmares.
This was a day at Dachau.
… I started off by separating from the friend group I was with. The barred gate only said three words to me, and of which I could not understand through its thick accent. It said to me what sounded like, “Abreit Macht Frei.” I then remembered that those were the same words spoken from the gate at Auschwitz, to those walking in, and whispering in their ears, “Work sets you free.”
I looked around and felt the miniscule rocks crunch beneath my feet, covered in sand, looking to be ancient. Mere rectangles paired in rows, acting as tombs of what was left of the barracks that held those sweet sweet souls, put within Death's grasp. I strutted down the middle, guarded by a fence of poplar trees, standing tall and lush, providing shade on one of the brightest of days thus far. They were a dark green, but had a light texture to them, seemingly united between them, their roots coming from the same seed, still fearful of the soil which birthed them. Or maybe they weren’t afraid at all, as they saw one of the truest and most honest parts of all of nature. Brutality.
I saw all the religious sites, the orthodoxies of the Christian churches, Russian, Catholic, Protestant. Of course, I viewed the Jewish synagogue as well. All of them quiet and humbling, many on their knees in tears, as I stood looking down upon them, knowing that they were to be in their own minds. I couldn’t intrude upon that, and I knew it. For that is a bond that I felt, and I knew must be kept sacred. For everyone.
Then came the part I was awaiting, across the bridge over the creek, behind the flowered trellis, among the pebbles- a building of showers and furnaces. What was so tiny, so insignificant with nothing seemingly special to its name, on the inside was a place that wiped out thousands through ash and gas. The walls stainless, the floor clean, everything was so simple- but within was the souls of normal people that remained there. I walked out and viewed the garden near this place, with its many monuments to those people who lived in their serene towns out in the country and cities. Shoemakers and barbers, apart of the simple people of our world- turned to ash for who they were and what they believed in.
But there was a path outside the furnaces, one that was circular, a little arboretum of the sort. Bubbling with life, underneath the shadow of trees, and in its center was a star. A star that either remained significant to these simple people, or was lost amongst the breaking of their lives. The terror put upon their families. The screams and scars they suffered. I saw the graves and stories, the quotes of philosophers and men with knowledge, of those who were there. It was moving, all ofitwas. Because I saw that life, those delicate flowers, and knew that they too may have seen the tragedy. The simple but desolate word preached to the people, causing the endeavor of the most vile act in human history.
Hatred is the word that came to mind that day. For hate is brewed in the same place that love is… our hearts.
So as a result of that hate, many hearts were disintegrated, and love turned to ash. Gone forever, and separated from the simple world that was.
And the world, you see, is not a complex place. It is of many varieties, with opposites for each pairing. Peace and war. Love and hate. Kindness and cruelty. Divinity and corruption. All existent with the Holocaust, and within that very place. Dachau.
The world has always been this simple, but we, the darkest part of man, are what make it oh so complex. And shortly thereafter, leaving the circle, and paying homage to those before- I heard the church bells rings. It was then that I knew it was my time to leave, to say goodbye, and to say my final sorry; for not everyone in this world took something away after this time, after all that loss. For people still do not comprehend the fact thatthey, these phenomenal people, these “rats”, were just like any other regular person. And we still fight, we still sin, defaming each other- all because we feel that the other is not worthy to be our equal. When that is truly the greatest sin of all, to not understand that we all feel the same things but have only different lives.
But I should mention that I am not without my sins myself. Of course it is nothing serious, it is only that on my way out I took apart of these “rats” with me. I stole two of the ancient pebbles covered in blue paint from that molded and dusty ground, and placed them in my pocket. Both now rest in front of my mirror, so that I may remember one thing: they were me, and I was them. Both simple people, living in a simple world- made to be complex by the very thing that makes us similar. Our emotions, our thoughts… our humanity.