This narrative is inspired by writer’s own visit to the site and entails her personal viewpoints, not aimed at a community or beliefs of others.
We have learnt to provide effective spatial orders for the living, but it remains evident that we are still unaware of accommodating our societal differences in the spaces we inhabit. Racism is an evidence of our societies moving away from social sustainability and this needs to be addressed frequently for its upheaval. Dachau lets us look back and observe the faults of an orthodox system with its severe infliction on our architectural perseverance.
An absolute bareness with its arms stretched wide open coldly welcomes the visitor, a chilling experience for lighthearted. It is only the bareness which engulfs the sight as far as it goes, as if declaring the reign of death. With sparse poplar tress at distance, tall enough and far enough to be of no use for rescue from the beating sun, again evidently striking on the harshness of the ground. On right, withstands the restored quarters of prisoners, furnishing hardly a ground coverage of 8 country houses, which inhabited 6,000 prisoners at once during last few months of its functioning.
Roll call was a mandatory ritual, failing which prisoners were punished severely, more than what they were already suffering. Imagining rows of lean exhausted figures filed across the graveled surface, barefoot with hunger of days, gives a slam to our sleeping conscience. At this very place, stands the concrete pedestal paying homage to each that once stood on that ground.
Hidden somewhere away from the stretched grounds are the infamous quarters of gas chamber. Unlike how one imagines these to be dark and dingy, they are in contrast well lit and habitable spaces. Disguised as shower area for the prisoners, where many of them would have walked into unknowingly, these low ceiling square rooms were frequently filled with poisonous gas leaving men suffocate to death. For those who would survive the mass murder, were fed to kilns in their half conscious states. While standing within those stone walls, it’s impossible to not think about power that architecture has on covering up even the most heinous deeds.
Racism has classed itself differently in various corners of the world and for Europe it was disguised against Jews early in the 20th century. Unaware of the aftermath, this flushing out movement lead by Adolf Hitler was addressed towards a cleansed society, where apparent unhealthy Jewish beliefs would perish. His idea didn’t die out with his life, but got translated into our current regional and country level planning reflecting biased allocation of public space usage, mind you even in the self acclaimed democracies.
This forceful abdication of human rights seeded unjust settlement plans across other continents, where few from the dominating sect were taking large chunks of land upon liberation and the thought to be unworthy were only allowed to stack and pile their homes in a compact neighbourhood. These narcissistic ideologies conflict with the idea of inclusive communities and have always hindered the sustainable growth of architecture. Cities and buildings that are egocentric, provide unequal lifestyle opportunities to its inhabitants, focused on sustenance of only a single group of people. Dachau was not only a concentration camp but an epitome of unstable and unforgiving character adapted by our built when our societies become morally corrupt.
Atrocities of human past have effectively retaliated in the practices of today. Stuck with a single perspective, man has committed unforgivable deeds, leaving its stains on portrayal of the built as well. In its geographic isolation, the camp built for victims of racism has a heartbreaking story to tell and the now turned museum as a remnant has been left untouched for its bareness to mimic the mind state of its prisoners. For whom, the only escape from the torturous confinement was death, which at times was considered merrier than everyday afflictions.
- Entrance to the camp memorial site
- Way to library and information desk
- Information boards placed in and around the main building
- Layout of the living quarter for prisoners
- Remnants are displayed at different locations in the building
- Kilns for prisoners were installed adjacent to the gas chambers