Extermination Through Work!


Second weekend of my stay in Germany came with a pleasant surprise. It was a long weekend on account of Pentecost (believed to be the 50th day after Easter). Bobby called me up inviting me to Frankfurt. At the same time, I got a mail from Rick by surprise. Rick was coming driving down from Zurich to Dresden. Since Munich was on the way, he was quite happy to come down and meet me. He was driving on the Autobahn, the only free way probably in the world with no blanket speed limit. You could drive as fast as you can with certain exceptions of patches with Speed Limit.

Rick ringed the door bell exactly at 10:00PM on Friday night when I had almost slipped to slumber. He seemed to be a happy and excited and looked smart and lively. After his stint in India and after spending couple of months in Dresden, he was finally being employed at a decent company in Zurich. We went down to the Hotel Restaurant and talked a lot over dinner. At 11:45 PM, we were the only two in the restaurant and had to leave, since we already overstayed for 45 minutes beyond the closure hours.

We continued the talk about Bavarian food, Zurich’s cross-cultural society, Rick’s feelings about his stay in India, Austrian Tourism and Alps, SimManager and MSC, Rick’s new job, Turks in Frankfurt and many more things. It was about 2:30 AM and was time for Rick to start driving again back to Dresden. We said “Tchuz” and hoped to meet again sometime somewhere in this small planet. Rick restarted his rental car and GPS and set off to Dresden.

Got up quite late at around 9:30AM on Saturday and had to quickly sort out my plans for the day. Frankfurt did not seem to be an option any longer. By the time I reached the breakfast floor at the Hotel, it was closed. The lady at the reception said they close by 10. I took a day pass for the train and have her mark the Concentration Camp Memorial Site station. The station was outside the MVV inner ring and I had to take an extra ticket. At Hauptbahnolf (Central Station), while waiting for the second train, I called up Bobby and informed him of the change of plans.

At around 12:30, train reached Dachau station. I had a very bad feeling for the place I was about to go. This was not a place to just enjoy with fun and laughter. It is memorial that reminds humanity of the brutal cruelty by a section of the society on free and educated humankind. From Dachau, for the first time in Munich I got a chance to ride a public transport bus to reach the Memorial site.

Dachau memorial site gripped a sorrowful silence. People were just moving round without much chatter. Memorial site offer two types of tours to the visitors. One is a guided tour by a voluntary organization and the other an audio-guided tour. To learn about the history in a little detail, I opted for the guided tour. Three words welcome you at the entrance or the gate of the Dachau Concentration camp; it reads “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” which translates to “Freedom through Work”.

Dachau was the first concentration camp set up by SS army of Hitler and the only one that was left without any damage after the liberation day in 1945 when Hitler and SS Army was defeated by US and its allies. Other than concentration camps, SS Army formed “extermination camp” located mainly in Poland due to its geographical position at the middle of Europe. Extermination camps, as the name reveals massacred thousands or millions for various reasons known only to SS Army.

Concentraion camps were a result of the extreme patriotism promoted by a group of cruel individuals. They believed that the only way to salvage pride for Germany is by promoting a strong sense of national pride and brutally suppressing even the slightest of opposition. There was no longer freedom of the press; the fundamental human rights were denied for the common man; SS army was quite successful in its initial forming days to spread the terror across breadth and width of the country.

10 years before the SS army was formed, through his book “Mein Kamph”, Hitler openly declared his hostility towards Jews. To Hitler and SS army, anyone who can not work to build arms and ammunitions or who can not be part of the army and fight, were just burden to the nation. Through various “extermination camps” and concentration camps, SS army successfully carried out their mission of mass murder of women, children and weak or sicker population of the society.

Dachau is a reminder to humanity of the state of things that can happen to the world with even a minor section of the society adapting to an extreme and hostile attitude towards the rest of the world. In the modern days, SS army can manifest itself in the form of Al Queda or Bush Administration or Saddam’s regime or LTTE or Parvez Musharaf. It is the need of the hour to identify these uprisings and combat them in a timely fashion. (To be continued...)

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Sam said...

Its been a silent walkwith u in Dachau memorial site through ur writing infact this was the same melancholy that i felt in the shores of Nagapattinam of Tamil nadu where the Tsunami hit , its been years and ur writing took me some years back when me and a friend of CRY walked through the ruined village where dead bodies were piled up and cremated the smoke gave us the sting of death, the silence we "heared" sure u might have heared from that lonely walls of concentration camps is same that i heared, the last attempt of the lungs to breath before its crushed creates a silence that many will hear..