We visited Dachau today. I was expecting it to be emotional – and it certainly was – but one of the most overwhelming things about this place is the scale. I wasn’t prepared for just how big the concentration camp was, or the knowledge that, towards the end of the war, almost 60,000 prisoners were crammed into a camp designed for 6,000.
The industrialised forms of terror that those men and women were subjected to is nothing short of horrific. The fact that men chose to do this to other human beings, and that it became a model for the many other concentration camps in Europe, is a dark stain on history that will never be washed out.
It’s something that needs to be visible and confronting, because it demonstrates, in the most visceral way, how deep any of us has the potential to sink. It’s a capability that I imagine resides in many of us, if we were to be put in the circumstances that allowed it to surface. Recognising and reminding ourselves of that depravity hopefully goes some way to ensuring that those acts of depravity are fewer and further between in the world we live in.