You sober up soon on a Munich Beer Festival bus booze tour when you step inside a concentration camp, and I reflect on that today… on Dachau and World Holocaust Day.
Dachau, 12 miles north of Munich, was the first and longest-running concentration camp, operating from 1933-45.
And it was set up just five weeks after Hitler grabbed power to initially house Communists.
Over the course of its 12 years in existence 32,000 people died in its cramped conditions.
That it was the first, and therefore a clearing house and thoroughfare for the whole death camp network, sets it out as significant.
The starting point
Dachau does not have the reference point of the Arbeit macht frei of Auschwitz, liberated 77 years ago today.
But it is the starting point, although not the first in history.
That black mark is attached to the Spaniard overseers in Cuba in the late 19th century.
While the British too implemented concentration camps in the Boer War.
The refrain for the Dead of the World Wars ‘Lest we forget’ is recognisable too.
But the chilling truth is that holocausts have been tolerated across the world over these past 77 years.
Europe has all too easily ignored countries in other continents.
But also their own where less than half a century after the gates of Auschwitz were opened we turned a blind eye to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
We all, of course, aren’t fortunate enough to visit Sarajevo to hear their story.
But should you be in that part of the world, perhaps enjoying the charms of the coast then allow yourself a detour there.
To the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide in the Bosnian city.
And remind ourselves that they were forgotten.
A salutary reminder and something I’ll reflect on… and Dachau and World Holocaust Day.