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Tips for Visiting Concentration Camps

Girls Who Travel | Tips for Visiting Concentration Camps

So, you’re getting ready to head to one of the world’s most depressing places: a concentration camp. While, yes, it is a depressing place to visit, it is also going to be one of the most life changing things you will ever go through in life. I always tell my friends to go at least once in their lifetime because when you walk out of your tour, you will look at the world, and everyone in it, differently. Here are some tips when you go to visit a concentration camp. I visited Dachau, located in Dachau, Germany.

Warning: Some of the descriptions and images in this post can be unsettling.

dachau.jpg

Pictured above is a sculpture by Nandor Glid. It symoolizes everyone that grabbed onto the barbed wire surrounding the camp to kill themselves because they knew that was the better way to die. 

Pictures

Our tour guide told us pictures were okay at Dachau, however, I know that at other concentration camps that they are NOT okay. I think I maybe took three pictures inside the camp itself, and then one outside. Not one of these pictures were a selfie, or of me in general. It is very disrespectful to take selfies or photos of yourself in camps because people literally died in those camps. I saw families taking group photos and smiling in them. It took everything in me not to confront them. Please please please don’t be that person to take selfies and/or group photos. It really upsets a lot of people as you can imagine why.

Tour guide

I highly recommend going on a group tour. Dachau had an option where you could get a recorder and listen to commentary. I, however, booked a tour online which included the train ride to and from Munich (it was about 11 stops on their public train) and the ticket to get into the camp itself. Our tour guide has been doing Dachau tours for about thirty years. You really get a personalized experience doing this. I was able to ask questions on stuff that I couldn’t hear, and even book recommendations that I wanted to read after this trip.

Talking 

This seems like something silly, but please don’t be talking loudly to your friends/people you are with. If you decide to go against booking a tour, keep in mind there will be other tour groups there, and it got pretty annoying when families would talk so loud that we couldn’t hear what our guide was saying. And again, you are at a memorial site. It is also disrespectful to have loud conversations, and sometimes I even heard people laughing, during a time of mourning. 

Phones

I feel like this kind of goes without saying, but if you are on your own self-guided tour or a group tour, don’t be on the phone taking phone calls. If you do, please step out of the camp and talk quietly. There was someone talking very loudly making some sort of business call right outside where the dorms used to be. I found this to be incredibly rude and disrespectful.

Take Notes

Now I know a lot of people won’t actually do this, but I took about half a notebooks worth of notes. I have my own blog so I wanted to write in great detail about not only my experience, but of what happened at Dachau. I’m so glad I did this because our tour guide had SO much knowledge of the Holocaust, and there was no way that I would be able to remember everything without note taking. 

 

Dachau was a very intense camp. I got the chills walking into the “showers” (they were actually gas chambers- the soldiers told them they were going to shower but they weren’t actually). Those chambers were only used once, and they believe it was only to test them. They actually even had brothels, but they stopped them because the men of the camp knew the girls were forced there, even if they said otherwise.

You will cry.

You will come out of the tour so incredible thankful for what you have.

You will be so grateful you didn’t have to go through what millions of people had to go through.

I urge everyone to go and see at least one concentration camp. My goal is to go to Auschwitz one day. With that being said, I feel like these tips can be applied to any grave site, or any site that had some sort of bad casualty. 

Girls Who Travel | Author Devan - Tips for Visiting Concentration CampsAbout Devan: Devan has been traveling since she was about 10 years old. She recently fell in love with solo traveling back in August. Devan is a student in Naperville, Illinois, USA majoring in social media, and she hope to further her education by traveling the world posting about it all over social media. You can follow her journey on her Instagram and website.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Martine Muis
    March 15, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Devan, thank you so much for sharing this! Taking selfies, and photo’s in general, at concentration camps have raised a lot of questions. This posts helps you with the (un)written rules of picture taking in delicate places.

  • Reply
    Bob F
    March 18, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Nicely written article and I fully agree, a a concentration camp is not a visit, it is an experience, one that truely brings to light the horrific cruality experienced by prisioners. And Yes, selfies would be extremely disrespectful.

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