Not many people have been or have chosen to go to a Nazi concentration camp and I know of many (Jewish and non-Jewish) who would never walk into one. If you have any ounce of empathy, you will not leave the grounds of a former concentration camp unchanged. I have spoken to other travelers who have visited concentration camps and it all comes down to the same words- eerie quietness, solemnness, depressing, etc. I feel those words are the only human words that we can express. It runs much deeper than that.
Visiting any concentration camp or work camp anywhere in the world is where you come to see the true horrors of fear, racism, genocide and hate. Whether or not that is your agenda that is what you will find. I know a lot of people believed they were visiting a historical site but they left different and forever changed.
I had visited Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Weimar, Germany as part of a 6-week journey through Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany . I had already been to many Holocausts museums, the Anne Wright House in Amsterdam and Jewish quarters (ghettos) throughout Europe. That was not enough. There was nothing that would have prepared me for the experience of a concentration camp.
Many people had asked me if I felt ghosts or bad energy since I am a holistic healer and an intuitive. Honestly, I thought that would be my experience. I think many people are focused on ghostly apparitions and the fascination of seeing spirits, having your pants tugged on or being touched by something that is not physically there. I have been to many places around the world where I have felt spirits, felt tugging on my clothes or the physical pains of torture and death. In this case, I felt an unforgettable stillness. It was like all the life energy was drained or killed off, so to speak from these grounds. I did not know what to make of it from the time I got off the bus until the time I left. To this date, I have never felt that same lack of life energy in any place in the world.
My visit to Buchenwald started off normal. I had taken the public bus from Weimar’s train station to what I thought was the correct exit. I got off way too early and had to walk a few kilometers to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. It was very cold, lonely and I actually heard wolves or dogs howling in the forest to the left of the road. I was uncomfortable and somewhat nervous, not that I felt anything bad was going to happen to me but it was a feeling that I could not shake.
I kept walking and saw a sign that read “Blood Road”. I was on the road that was built by the inmates of Buchenwald. I felt that it was no mistake for me to get off at what I thought was the correct bus stop. I do not believe in coincidences. This gave me the full experience, more than what would have been achieved if I got off at the stop in front of the concentration camp. I was by myself, my hands and legs were cold but I felt this need to keep on walking. In a way, I felt that I needed to do this to recognize those inmates who built Blood Road.
I could feel that I was getting closer and came across a dirt walking path that look like a shortcut. It actually was the train route that led the inmates into the camp, a one-way ride for many into Buchenwald. I had to make the decision if I was going to take this route or continue on Blood Road. Since I was by myself, I decided to stay on the road and not take that ‘one way’ in tree lined path. It was too eerie and too sad for me to do it. So I kept walking on Blood Road.
When I arrived, I entered in through the side entrance since that was closer to me. I knew I was there when I saw the fence poles that held the inmates in. I had seen a multitude of photos with these hockey stick like poles before, but it was different seeing them in front of me. It jarred me a little, I will not lie, I truly realized what I was about to experience.
Once I entered, it was not what I expected. There were only a few buildings that remained inside the concentration camp area where the inmates would have tried to survive. The first building I saw was the incineration building, which had a tall chimney. I saw a family walking out with their heads down and thought to myself that there was no way in hell I was walking in there. I shook off the thoughts of the horrors that the walls of that small structure held. I kept walking.
I made a sharp right and walked towards a large building that I could see in the distance. It was a museum with artifacts from the inmates that were held inside Buchenwald. There were shoes, children’s artworks as well as other discarded but cherished items. I had seen the piles of shoes, suitcases, jewelry, etc inside other Holocaust museums but this was different because I directly saw the association. I do not think that I could explain what was going on with me at the time, the thoughts and emotions were very complex.
When I left the building, I started to walk towards the front of the camp and noticed plots of different colored gravel on the ground. These black lots of gravel were the sights of the block housing for the inmates. This is where I felt the full effect of stillness. I was pretty much in the middle of the camp itself and I could feel nothing- absolutely nothing. It was if there was no life force at all, like a hole in the universe. As a holistic healer, I work with life force energy and there was none of it to be found where I was standing. I believe this is why people say that they have felt a solemn and quiet feeling because that’s how they processed it.
I decided to leave so I could get back to Weimar and be amongst the living. As I was approaching the front gates, I noticed a tour group that were standing by the front Gates looking in. I thought how odd and ironic that nearly 80 years later, people were wanting to come in rather than people on the opposite side wanting to get out. Times change.
When I finally made it out, I walked around a bit more and saw the dog kennels, which gave me a shiver down my spine as well as the Nazi barracks. This was all too much for me to process in one day and I was only a visitor.
It took me a while even after my trip to process this whole experience. This visit did something to my core of beliefs when it came to the human experience, fear, existence, survival and much more that I cannot word. It also hit me on a spiritual level that a place could feel zapped of life energy. It was not even like I felt death. It was like all of the life energy that had been taken in this one area, literally was killed off with the people. That is the only way I can explain it in human terms.
In my blogs and when I talk to people about places that I’ve traveled, I always have a fun or quirky story that goes with it. I typically say that other should go and find their own experiences there. When it comes to places like this, a concentration camp, it is a toss up in my opinion. This is such a personal experience and what you take back will change you, at least for me it was a life-changing experience. It really is a personal choice if you want to experience a place like this. A former concentration camp goes way beyond a museum or memorial statue.
Buchenwald was established in July of 1937 as a Nazi concentration cam near Weimar, Germany. It was the first as well as the largest concentration camps inside of Germany’s 1937 borders.
Inmates had come from all over the Soviet Union and Europe, and many communists were the first detained here. It was not only Jewish people who were inmates here; Polish, Slavs, Romanis, Free Masons, the mentally ill, physically disabled and prisoners of war. Also many ordinary criminals or those who were considered sexual “deviants” were held here.
There were 280,000 prisoners who came into the camp, as well as its subcamps. There were 56,545 deaths due to executions, lack of food and poor conditions. In April 1945, Buchenwald gained notoriety when the United States Army liberated the concentration camp.
For more information, please visit – Buchenwald Memorial
To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice…– Elie Wiesel
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