“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 28:2).
When I first thought of writing this blog post as a second instalment on my recent European trip, I intended it to be a follow up of “In the footsteps of John Calvin.” It was supposed to be entitled, “In the footsteps of Martin Luther.” What a wonderful sequel it was going to be, since these two men were the chief luminaries of the Protestant Reformation! I had intended to close the blog with one of the unbelievable sights I was treated to in Germany—seeing Mercedes Benz taxis. I mean, almost all the taxis I saw were recent models of Mercedes Benz cars. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. I even sent an email back home while I was in Munich, telling my friends that I had finally discovered what I was going to do after retiring as a church pastor in Zambia. I was going to be a taxi driver in Germany!
I am still recovering from this sight--Mercedes Benz taxis!
|Preaching at the Munich YMCA, with Joachim Schmutz interpreting into German|
The concentration camp I visited was the Dachau Concentration Camp, situated 16 kilometres northwest of Munich. Dachau was the first concentration camp to be opened in Germany by Adolf Hitler and, therefore, served as a model for future camps. It was opened on 22 March 1933, “in the interest of state security,” six years before the Second World War. It was initially meant for the incarceration of political dissidents and ended up being the longest running concentration camp of Hitler’s Third Reich. In its early years, it was the most well known of all the concentration camps and spread fear and terror across Germany.
|Dachau Concentration Camp--A major tourist attraction today|
|"Arbeit Marcht Frei" written on the entrance gate spelt your doom!|
It is not known exactly how many people were imprisoned in Dachau. A Wikipedia website suggests that there were over 200,000 from more than 30 countries, of whom one-third were Jews. Over 30,000 of these prisoners died in the camp mostly through disease, malnutrition, and suicide. There was overcrowding, poor sanitation, lack of proper medical care, the withholding of food, overwork, beatings, and shootings for the flimsiest of reasons. Many prisoners died in transit because they were moved from one place to another crammed for days or even weeks in railway boxcars meant to carry freight. With no proper sanitation in those boxcars, and with little or no food or water, many just failed to survive. Some arrived in the concentration camp too weak and died a few days later. A crematorium was built to dispose of the dead bodies. By the time the Allied Forces came to the rescue, the death rate had reached 200 inmates per day!
|The SS beat many of the prisoners to death as this cartoon shows|
|These are the toilets that prisoners used--with no privacy!|
|(What is left of) a prisoner commits suicide|
|One of two plaques at the entrance|