Not all cemeteries have one – a place to honor the unknown dead. Dachau does because so many people died there. There is a monument that has ashes of the unknown dead. It’s simple, yet moving.
The symbolism of the monument if powerful for me. A concrete wall, stone and ashes. The people were prisoners in life – a cold concrete life and now their ashes are buried around stone and concrete to protect them and preserve them so others can learn the lessons of the past.
After the monument, it is then time to take the “walk of freedom.”
The walk of freedom is the center path through the prisoners’ barracks. It is lined with trees now. It was called the walk of freedom because it was the walk prisoners would take to go to their death.
As you walk through, you look to your left and right and see the locations of where the barracks once stood. You see the guard towers and the fence. What was once meant as a prison and sure and certain death now stand watch over the dead, like a cemetery. Only it was an unnecessary cemetery. It’s extremely disturbing to walk the grounds of Dachau – as it should it be. In a way, you go for the same reason you watch Schindler’s List, to be uncomfortable and moved by the tragedy, to learn how terrible humanity can be, to be reminded of the horror, to know that humanity is seriously flawed and that our hope is best placed elsewhere.