A Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich, Germany

Julie Germany 6 Comments

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.

Dachau Germany

Visiting Dachau

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.

Arbeit Macht Frei

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.

Inside Dachau

Dachau with Kids

Dachau Memorial

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.

Jewish Memorial

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.

What Should You Do Afterwards? Hofbrauhaus!

Now it was time for a much needed drink.  And where do you go for a drink in Munich?  A beer hall, of course!  We spent part of the afternoon in the Hofbrauhaus, one of Munich’s most famous beer halls.  The Hofbrauhaus is large, crowded, noisy, touristy, and tons of fun.  It smells like sauerkraut and beer and oompa loompa music plays in the background.  There was lots of beer, lots of German food, lots of people.

Hofbrauhaus

After a ten minute search we were able to find an empty table.  Once served, Tim and I ordered the largest beers available, one liter beers.  They were so big and so heavy that I needed two hands to drink it at first.  Tyler now had good video blog material as Tim and I raced to finish our beers.  After much burping and laughter, Tim finished first, but I wasn’t too far behind.  This was tons of fun.  We did eat mediocre food…sausages, sauerkraut, half of a chicken, and a pork knuckle.  The beer was good…the food, not so much.

Hofbrau Beer

Tim and Julie

Munich

Drinking beer at the Hofbrauhaus:


 

Dachau

Comments 6

  1. I went there quite a few years ago, the picture of seperation of a mother and daughter was the saddest thing I saw. I have a very good sense of smell and you could still smell death there. This was in 1983.

  2. After reading your blog, we decided this is something we definitely have to do during our trip. We won’t have a car, and were traveling from Zürich to Munich by train. Can you tell me how difficult it is to get Dachau from the city? My husband is a huge WWII fan, is there anything else in the area you would recommend? Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Kristen,

      It is so easy to get to Dachau from Munich. The metro (S2 line) takes you to Dachau Station and then a 15 minute bus (#726) will take you to the entrance. Check out this link for more in-depth info: http://www.discovermunich.net/doItYourself/dachau.html. Plan on spending half of your day in Dachau and don’t miss the video…you learn a lot! There are also guided tours twice a day. I recommend reading the book “The Book Thief” before going…it is a fictional book about WWII that takes place in Munich…I wish I had read it before going and it is now one of my favorite books.

      I can’t think of anything else WWII related in Munich but do a Google search…there may be more than Dachau. Berchtesgaden (2-3 hours southeast of Munich by car) is where you can visit the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s base during WWII.

      Cheers! Julie

  3. How great to read about your time in Dauchau. Being remind of our worlds atrocities is disturbing, but necessary so that we never let history repeat itself. Thank you for the story and for being brave enough to know your children could handle the facts about history..the good and the bad…..The beer garden sounded like so much fun especially the oversized beers….Good Luck in your flight to So Africa. Looking forward to hearing more.

  4. WONDERED IF YOU WOULD GO TO THE CONCENTRATION CAMP. I KNOW IT WAS A HARD THING FOR THE KIDS TO SEE, BUT AN IMPORTANT PART OF HISTORY FOR THEM TO LEARN. I CRIED THE WHOLE WAY THRU OUR TOUR. MADE ME QUESTION WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE. THERE WERE SO MANY HOUSES SO CLOSE. PEOPLE HAD TO HAVE KNOWN WHAT WAS HAPPENING. JOHN IN THERE DEFENSE SAID IF THEY HAD CHILDREN THEY MIGHT HAVE TURNED A BLIND EYE, IN FEAR OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM IF THEY FOUGHT THE NAZIS. NEEDED BEER AFTER THAT TOUR. LOTS OF IT.

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes it was hard, but good for us and our kids to see. It’s funny you mention the beer. Immediately after Dachau we went right to the Hofbrauhaus for those huge beers.

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