As I had expected, my excursion to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site was very emotional. Originally established in 1933 as a location for political prisoners (e.g., Communists and Social Democrats), Dachau would in time play an even darker part in the plans of Adolf Hitler. Between 1933 and 1945, at least 43,000 of the 202,000 prisoners died in the Dachau Concentration Camp and its sub-camps. Hunger, exhaustion, torture, and murder were some of most common causes of death. I was surprised to learn that the first Jews did not arrive in the camp until November 1938, following "Reichskristallnacht". The camp was liberated on April 29, 1945; approximately 30,000 prisoners were saved.

I believe that each person who visits Dachau (or any of the other camp memorials) takes away a very individualized lesson. Personally, I came away with 2 lessons. First, I will always respect the differences of others and be open to learn from them. Second, I will not let the horrors committed in Nazi Germany overshadow the other pieces of the puzzle that collectively forge the rich cultural history of Germany.

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