Two impressive memorials remember what happened during the Nazi time in Dachau: the
International Monument in Dachau and the National Dachau monument in Amsterdam.
When in 1964 the remembrance center in the former concentration camp came into being,
it was inevitable that a wish was voiced to place a large international memorial
in a central spot. There was a contest with 54 artists from all over the world. An
international jury selected the design of the Yugoslavian artist Glid Nandor. The
necessary funds to build it , about 1.2 million Deutchmark, was raised by the International
Dachau Committee and also by national committees.
It became a large monument, with a footprint of no less that 48 by 100 meters. (150’
x 330’) Two concrete walls border a gravel area. From there a road leads down to
a path which crosses the entire structure. On two beams stands a large bronze statue.
Skeletons, barbed wire and chains, melded together to a fascinating piece, symbolizing
the suffering the prisoners had to endure. On the back side of the foundation is
a large concrete wall with this warning inscribed in French, English, German and
May the example of those who offered their lives here between 1933 and 1945, in the
struggle against national socialism, unite the living in the struggle to defend peace
and freedom, and reverence for human dignity.
On the wall on the east side of the monument, also in four languages, is an inscription
in large letters. The text: Nie wieder (Never again).
In memory of their friends who died in the camp, the Dutch old Dachau prisoners erected
a monument well over fifty years after the liberation of the camp. From the very
binning there was one important premise, that is had to be in Amsterdam, the capitol
of the land. They finally found a beautiful spot in the Amsterdam woods. It became
an impressive monument that is well worth a visit.
When somebody once asked "Where does the Dachau monument stand", the answer was,
it does not stand, it lays down. That is the way it is. The monument lays.... There
is a sixty meter long street of Belgian blue stone, two and a half meters wide, with
a tall stand of trees on the left. Like it was in Dachau, where there are tall poplars
next to the Lagerstrasse, still. Here it is a well trimmed square box hedge, three
and a half meters tall which, in time, will grow to five meters.
In this street the names of five hundred concentration camps and sub camps are engraved.
Only the most important ones, because in reality there were a lot more. The designer
of the monument is the sculptor Niek Kemps. He designed a memorial that can be walked
through. The surface of the path is uneven, it is higher in the middle to symbolize
the difficulty the prisoners had walking in the camps. Uneven roads, unsuitable footwear.
From the beginning everyone was faithful to the original premise. The first to walk
through the monument on the third of December 1996, were Prince Bernhard and Princess
Juliana (who became Queen of Holland after the war). Then the other people who were
there followed, sixty meters one way, then sixty meter back. While walking over the
blue path one can read the names of the horrible locations that are being remembered
here. The Merkelbach school in Amsterdam has adopted the memorial. Every year during
the memorial service, children stand at the entrance of the memorial and hand everyone
who enters a flower. A spontaneous tradition started from this. While walking through
the memorial, everyone places there flower in the stark hedge. Colors that brighten
the dark green wall, many small tokens to honor those who did not come home again.
During the Dachau reunion in 1997, after all those years at their own monument, this
tradition was not only observed, but was expanded.
An order was established for walking through the monument. The old Dachauers go first,
one by one, as if their names were being called during roll call. After them, in
no specific order, the family members of those who perished and the invitees. One
by one, with one flower in their hands they enter the monument. Finally the others
who are present are invited to follow, police officers, members of the orchestra,
the public. Everyone is welcome in the Dachau monument.