I had a powerful and unique experience this week. My family and I were traveling in Europe and decided while in Munich, Germany to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. If you are not familiar with it (as I have found the Holocaust incredibly interesting, moving, and deeply saddening), Dachau was the first concentration camp created by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler. Dachau was formed in the ‘30s as the model camp for Hitler’s vision of imprisoning those who opposed him politically, as well as thought leaders from across Europe and obviously those from races and religions he found inferior… Dachau housed over 200,000 people over its duration as an operating camp and was the site of mass murder through torture, starvation, disease, and certainly every crime against humanity you can imagine. Sadly this model was replicated throughout Germany and Poland, enabling the loss of millions of lives.
Standing on the grounds of Dachau is hard to describe. The day we visited it was bitterly cold, grey and snowing (unseasonably so). The emptied halls how stand as a museum to tell the story of Dachau while the barracks and bunkhouses remain cold, empty reminders of the horror our fellow man suffered. I doubt anyone can walk the bunkhouses of Dachau and not be deeply moved. Ultimately a walk through the Dachau crematorium sends chills to the core of any man’s soul. I will never forget.
Dachau is at times a somber reminder of the loss of human life at the hands of evil on a scale the world has rarely seen and still at times an inspiring message calling from the deserted grounds to live, to fight, to persevere as many brave prisoners at Dachau and in other concentration camps certainly did. Their stories and lives are as amazing as their will to survive the horror they faced.
Years ago I posted here (LIVE) about the loss of a good friend, Rob Eubank. Rob lost his battle with cancer early in life and through it all had an amazing ability to fight and to live. He was an inspiration. In some ways touring Dachau had a similar effect on me… It certainly reminded me of the fragility of life, while offering incredible motivation to live every moment.
I have two simple messages.
1. Never forget. Learn your history, and never forget.
2. Live. Do what motivates you, hug your friends and family and live life fully.
If you are not living life to the fullest, ask yourself why… and do it now!