My husband and I were both asked by young people at our church to serve as their Confirmation mentors. All semester we have been studying not just our own Methodist faith, but other faiths as well. Last night our group visited Temple Beth Sholom to observe with our Jewish neighbors a Service of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust. The service was tremendously moving and caused me to think back to the day a year ago my husband, son and I spent at Dachau, a former Concentration Camp in Germany.
The first glimpse of Dachau as you walk up a gravel road in the quiet countryside of Bavaria. I suppose the guard tower should have been a tip-off, but I was still stunned by the horror of what took place in the midst of this seemingly sleepy little village.
Historical photos of the main entrance gate show a swastika hung on the now unadorned keystone.
In the center of camp is an open area where prisoners would be summoned for roll call and forced to stand at attention for inhumane lengths of time. There are stories of prisoners holding up their dying friends and loved ones during these times so that they would not be punished for missing the summons.
Nandor Glid's sculpture graphically depicts the concrete fence posts, barbed wire, and broken bodies of the camp. Below the sculpture, the wall bears the years that Dachau served as a concentration camp-- 1933-1945.
International Monument: The triangles represent the badges worn by different groups of prisoners. Red-Socialists, Communists, and political prisoners; Blue-foreign workers, mostly Poles; Jews-two triangles, yellow atop another color; Criminals-green; Black- the homeless; Pink-homosexuals; Brown-Gypsies; Purple- Jehovah's Witnesses. The red circles were a second badge that those who worked in the camp penal colony were forced to wear. The three large links stand for the unity connecting all the prisoners.
For Mother's Day from your, Hans
How could I not feel thankful for my life after seeing a tiny glimpse of what prisoners in a place like this went through?
Freedom--physical, ideological, spiritual and freedom from abuse
Peace--inside and outside my home
Speech that heals rather than divides