Monday, June 4, 2012
An Experience Shared
Our day at Dachau was unforgettable. We spent the morning walking through the museum, closely following our Veteran, Mr. Chan Rogers, as he soaked in each display. After our extensive tour of the camp, we visited a convent where Mr. Rogers had the opportunity to share his incredible story to the group.
Throughout our time in Munich, Mr. Rogers has been eager to share about his experiences in WWII. He spent a good deal of time stationed in Munich and is not shy about bestowing his knowledge on us at every opportunity. Mr. Rogers was a sergeant in the 45th Infantry Division and took part in the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945. However, even though Mr. Rogers is full of stories filled with details that many do not know, the one thing that is still difficult for him to talk about is the atrocities he saw upon his arrival at Dachau.
Mr. Rogers explained that when he first heard the words, “concentration camp,” he was told it was a place the Nazis kept prisoners who did not agree with their views. However, what he discovered was far more than that simple explanation. Mr. Rogers' platoon came upon several Dutch prisoners who had escaped Dachau and were hiding out in the abandoned quarters of the SS. They could not understand each others language, but he did know that they were enemies of the Nazis and therefore friends to him. From there his group was able to locate the camp and begin the liberation process. When asked about his feelings of the horror he saw in Dachau, Mr. Rogers replied that he gets too emotional and could not answer the question. He simply said that he did not understand how such defenseless people could be treated so cruelly.
Each of us are descendants of liberators from Dachau and it was an honor to be in the same place that our family members once stood. Especially with a man who witnessed it firsthand. We never got to hear the stories of the liberation from our own relatives, so to hear it from a man who actually walked the grounds of Dachau in 1945 is an experience that will live on with each of us for the rest of our lives.
Mr. Rogers has been an incredible teacher these past few days. His ability to remember such small details is astounding. He has said many times that his purpose in coming on this trip is to impart as much information as he can to the students and other participants on the trip. Mr. Rogers is particularly passionate about his career after the war as a civil engineer.
After our visit to Dachau, the group traveled to Berchtesgaden to see Hitler's infamous Eagle's Nest. Mr. Rogers was truly fascinated to see all the development that had to be done in the building process of Eagle's Nest and was surprised that it was the highlight of his trip. Even though Mr. Rogers is a civil engineer, to us, he has become our most passionate teacher.
Sarah Unruh, junior
Grace Helms, senior