I eventually ended up camping in a forest outside of the German city of Dachau with three French students. We had many interesting conversations about life in Europe and America, and we talked about everything from religion to politics. During the day, we visited the concentration camp memorial site in Dachau.
During World War II, Germany was led by a very powerful man named Hitler. Hitler was able to unite people all over the country, and he made them believe that they could rule the world. One of the ways that he united people, however, was by finding groups of people to hate. Hitler blamed many of Germany's problems on Jews, as well as homosexuals, communists, and others. During the war, German soldiers hunted down millions of innocent people and put them in concentration camps such as Dachau.
At Dachau, tens of thousands of people were forced to spend all day working, in sun and in snow. Those who could not work were killed. Over the course of the war, huge numbers also caught terrible diseases, while others suffered as experimental subjects for German scientists. The guards at Dachau often went out of their way to make sure that life was miserable for the prisoners. By the end, over 40,000 people died at Dachau.
People have found many ways to remember the things that happened at Dachau. Some have created art that expresses parts of their experience in the camp. The memorial site has a very impressive sculpture by the artist Nandor Gild that caught my eye. It is a very powerful work, and it fit the site well. At the base, there is a simple message: Never Again.