Southern Bavaria in September. The goal was to see Munich and meet family at the Tegernsee and then go into deepest Bavaria at the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden. And as this was very near to Dachau I thought it was about time to put my long term plan into motion and visit the memorial to this concentration camp. I have been to Bavaria very many times. And at twelve years of age I started reading extensively about the Nazi’s, the Dutch occupation, the concentration camps, the Holocaust and the liberation. All this probably started because there was an empty space in the family at my mother’s side. Her brother had never returned home in 1945. No. he was not a Dutch soldier and he was not one of the very many Dutch Jews persecuted by the Nazis. No, he was a young boy from a large Roman Catholic family who went into hiding from the German occupier.
By the time I was twenty I had a extensive book collection and a steel helmet worn by a British soldier and was forever trying to sort out the how’s and the why’s. How could it happen, how could people let it happen, how ugly can people be, how many were involved, why was it possible, why so many, why, why, why, how, how……. Finally I convinced myself that there were very few answers, that humans are capable of large scale destruction and evil, many just live their lives, and some are capable of acts of immeasurable courage. My attention shifted to other things.
Little did I know what a visit to Dachau would unravel….. This jolly, beer drinking country with lederhosen and dirndls has extremely beautiful countryside, but the shadows are everywhere once you recognise the marks of history. And the deeper I delved into history the more difficult it is to see the one without the other. Before I embark on the telling of the shadows let me leave you with some of the marvelously beautiful aspects of Bavaria. I got to enjoy five mountain lakes, each with its own character. The Tegernsee, Chiemsee , Königssee , Obersee and Hintersee. In the water you see the skies and the silent reflections give a sense of stepping into a magical world.