Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // “work brings freedom”

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // “work brings freedom”

“Arbeit macht frei” translates loosely to the phrase “work brings freedom.”

This is the greeting on the gates at the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany that the Jewish people read when they were forcibly detained during the Holocaust.

Work brings freedom.

72 years ago on September 2, 1945, War World II was officially declared over but the lasting pain and suffering of the European Jewish population deserves to be remembered.

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

A few years ago on my trip to Germany, I really only had one request of my friends and that was to visit a concentration camp. As a history major in college, I wanted to get a first-hand experience of the memorial that I have studied many a times in classes. What the history books don’t warn you about is the somberness and the incredible sadness you experience walking through the memorial at Dachau. The bars on the doors and windows, the lack of privacy for the Jewish people, and yes, even the gas showers and furnace, although in theory you read about, can only be explained as absolutely despairing when you experience their physical presense.

This camp, often described during WWII as the “first concentration camp for political prisoners,” held up to close to 200,000 Jewish people during the 12 years it was in operation. The number of those who died is unknown but it is +28,000.

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

The entrance gates said “Work brings freedom.”

They lied.

If you ever get to Germany, I recommend you visit a concentration camp. Reading and learning about this atrocity is one thing, but walking through the somber areas is needed to truly feel the full impact of their history and insure that we never, EVER let it repeat itself.

xx,
Sami

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Why everyone should visit a concentration camp // "work brings freedom"

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Sami Mastrario

A music loving, chapstick obsessive, small-town photographer with a cliche love of travel. Taking extraordinary trips in the middle of my ordinary life. Trying to write about them without completely bumbling around.

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