Oct. 8, 1998
UCSB Hist 133C
GERMAN HISTORY SINCE 1945
new (willed) ignorance
|Ladies and Gentlemen!|
How peaceful life once was here! Dachau, once the epitome of rural stolidity and earthiness, closely bound to its artists and their noble cultural efforts for more than a century! To mention only a few of the names that carried Dachau's reputation into the world: Christian Morgenstern, ... Karl Spitzweg, Wilhelm Leibl, Lovis Corinth, [Max] Slevogt, ...
That was once our Dachau!
But then non-local sadists came and settled on the outskirts of our city, and with horror and fear we had to watch as they defiled the name Dachau in the eyes of the entire civilized world.
For twelve long years the concentration camp weighed like a nightmare upon us.
At the beginning sparse reports about the inmates of the camp leaked out to us. But after construction was complete the hermetic isolation left us with only dark premonitions about the fates and human suffering behind the concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
Dante's saying should have been written over the gate: "Lasciate ogni esperanza, voi, che entrate!"
We know that since 1940 alone at least 28,000 people died a miserable death. The lists show that 220,000 passed through the camp.
And the name of our beloved Dachau is associated with all of these cruelties!
But the real Dachau was different!
Today, with pure hearts and clean hands this "other Dachau" commemorates all of the victims whose blood has soaked our native soil and whose ash covers the paths within the camp.
You dead, however, who have been taken up by our native soil, rest there in peace! Your memory shall not only be honored by a monument of stone, but we will carry it in our hearts as long as the heavens allow us to breathe the air of freedom, and allow the sun of peace to shine.
Josef Schwalber, 9 November 1945