Our tour of Europe ended with a two day stay in Munich, Germany. The main thing we wanted to visit in Munich was the Dachau concentration camp.
Munich, described in one of our tour books as one of the world’s most livable cities, is also the site of Oktoberfest and the 1972 Olympics. This is a place where the metro and buses run on time, the people are friendly, and the beer plentiful and very good. Since some of our in Munich was spent preparing for our next leg of journey, flying to South Africa, our time for sightseeing was limited.
History of Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau was the Nazi’s first concentration camp and was the only concentration camp to have existed throughout the entire twelve years of Nazi rule. In the early years it was the largest and most well-known concentration camp. Initially it was used as a place to imprison political prisoners, but later became a transfer station to other concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
Dachau was planned and constructed to hold 6,000 prisoners, but by the end of WWII in 1945, Dachau was home to 32,000 prisoners. The conditions of course were terrible with overcrowding, torture, and lack of food. Thousands of people died here, either from disease, torture, lack of food, or murder. There was a gas chamber here, which we toured, but it was never used. Unfortunately, what got a lot of use was the crematorium, of which there were several.
The entrance is through the same gate prisoners would pass through, a metal gate stating “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which means “work makes you free,” which of course was a lie.
Visitors are able to walk the grounds, visit one of the last standing dormitories, and visit the museum, which was excellent. Inside of the museum is a chronological history of the Nazi regime, WWII, and the use of Dachau from WWII up until present time.
We watched a graphic, twenty minute movie about the history of Dachau, again not recommended for kids. It was a little disturbing, with its images of death and starvation, but a must see while visiting Dachau.
It is amazing all of the horrible things that happened here and how it was allowed to go on for so long. There were people living just outside of Dachau and if they ever suspected anything they never spoke up. How can a group of people like the Nazi’s be so terrible to treat other people as they did in these concentration camps? How does this happen? But it did. It was a very sad, moving visit to Dachau, but a visit I am very glad we made while in Munich.
Should Kids Visit Dachau?
We did have some concerns taking Tyler and Kara here since it is a site not recommended for children under the age of 12. At the time of our visit, Tyler was 11 years old and Kara was 9 years old.
Tim and I do not want to shelter the kids…I think it is important for them to learn about world history, even the atrocities that occurred during WWII. If either of them found what we saw too disturbing we would leave. Tyler and Kara handled seeing Dachau very well, but they were some of the only children we saw while visiting the site.
How to get to Dachau from Munich
From Munich, take the local S-Bahn S2 line towards Petershausen. Get off at the Dachau station (about 20 minutes by train). Exit the Dachau station, cross the street to the bus station, and take bus 724 or 726 to Dachau Camp.
Hours of Operation
Dachau is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on December 24th.
Entry is free. No advance tickets are necessary.
Allow half a day for a visit to Dachau.
Guided Tour of Dachau
Guided tours inEnglish are offered daily at 11 am and 1 pm. On weekends during peak season (July 1 to October 1) there is an additional tour at 12:15 pm. Tickets cost €3 per person and can be purchased at the Visitor Center. Only those 14 years and older are permitted to attend the tour. The tour lasts 2.5 hours.
More information for your trip to Germany
- 10 Day Bavaria Itinerary
- What do Cream Puffs, Salt, and Hitler have in Common? Berchtesgaden, Germany
- The Big List of Things to do in Berlin
- 17 Photos that will make you want to visit Gorlitz, Germany
- How to Visit Zugspitze from Germany and Austria
- How We Spent One Week in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
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