This haunting sculpture is the International Monument at the Dachau Concentration Camp.
It was a visit that we had put off for more than a year, but one that we really did want to make while we were living in Munich. It is an eerie and sad place to visit from the moment you step foot through the front gate with the words "Arbeit macht frei" - which translates to work liberates or work makes you free and is a slogan found on many entry gates to Nazi concentration camps. The preserved camp is a very moving memorial site for those that suffered and died there between 1933 and 1945.
The medieval town of Dachau is about 16km north west of Munich and was the site for the first concentration camp for political prisoners. The camp was built in 1933 and was the prototype for the other concentration camps that followed. In 1945 when American troops liberated it, the camp held around 30,000 prisoners. This is a famous quote by one of its prisoners, Pastor Martin Niemöller, who initially supported the Nazis, but later found himself at Dachau in 1938...
Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist. Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat. Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter. Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude. Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte. -- Der Weg ins Freie, Martin Niemöller (F.M.Hellbach,Stuttgart,1946)
When the Nazis arrested the Communists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat. When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist. When they arrested the Jews, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Jew. When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.
Almost every community in Germany had members taken away to these camps, and as early as 1935 there were jingles warning: "Dear God, make me dumb, that I may not to Dachau come."
For more information on Dachau you can visit this link which takes you to a page on the International Monument sculpture and also more information about the Concentration Camp.