Monday, 20 December 2010

"Hunting Zebras"*.

Only 30 minutes outside of Munich lies the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. The place of the first Concentration Camp of the Nazi regime, opened within months of seizing power in 1933, and eventually serving as the prototype of the huge expansion of the C.C. network after 1937-8 throughout the Reich and occupied territories. It was the beginning of an unimaginable plan of incarceration, forced labour, torture and eventual extermination of more than 2 million political opponents, POWs, homosexuals, "asocials" and "workshy", Jews, Roma and Sinti and "special prisoners".

It would be impossible to do it justice in a few lines here, even to attempt condensing the feeling of walking under the gate, around the (reconstructed) barracks, inside the Crematorium and the infamous Bunker. The spotless snow blanketing over the compound gave it an even more profound sense of desolation and otherworldliness. More importantly, I found myself utterly unprepared for such an experience despite my homework. And unfortunately there are more than a few more such sites to be visited to get an order of magnitude of the genocide.
* "Hunting Zebras" was the euphemism used by the SS while hunting down and executing the escaped (stripe-suited) prisoners during the infamous "Death Marches", the forced marches of thousands of emaciated Camp prisoners out of the soon-to-be abandoned Concentration Camps at the final stages of WW2.