Concentration Camp Visit Gives Sobering Perspective

Mar 20, 2017

I have a small whiteboard in my office, and in the upper right hand corner, written in tiny letters is “Dachau” as a reminder during those times when I need to tune up my own perspective.

And I’ll quickly admit those tune ups have to happen more than I’d like.

“Dachau” is written on my board because I had the awful privilege of visiting this Nazi concentration camp outside of Munich in March 2016. And yes, you heard right, I said “privilege.”

The weather for late March couldn’t have been nicer in southern Germany. It was fairly warm and sunny as my wife and I walked through the same main gate as hundreds of thousands of others did between 1933 and 1945 with “Arbeit Macht Frei” spelled out in steel across its arch. What followed were some of the most sobering three hours of my life.

I cannot do justice to the horrors of Dachau. This was a place where the very worst that is in human beings played out day after day for over 12 years.  The lasting image of that nice spring day was at its end, standing in Dachau’s dimly lit gas chamber, then walking out past the crematorium and then passing a long mound that was the mass grave of several thousand inmates. And then my wife and I freely walked out the main gate.

As we all do, I have those days when just about everything that could go wrong, does, sometimes to the point where I am fuming in office, saying “why me?” And then I look at the upper right hand corner of that whiteboard, see that simple word, and I get that tune up I need. I don’t have anything of any consequence to complain about, and what I need to do is buck up and be grateful.

I’m Andrew Nelson, and this is my Perspective.