WVB EuroTrip 2017: Day 12 - Dachau, Germany|
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May 30, 2017
The USC women's volleyball team is in Europe from May 18-30 for seven international exhibition matches and a taste of European culture and sightseeing. On Day 12, the team's final day abroad, the Trojans visited Dachau, the site of a Nazi concentration camp located just north of Munich. Following the history lesson, the team boarded a plane to go from Munich to Keflavik, Iceland, and returned to the Los Angeles via a stop in Seattle. Senior setter Reni Meyer-Whalley recounts the final day of a 12-day trip with her teammates.
This morning, we started the final day of our trip in Munich. The team had a great breakfast at the hotel before we took a bus ride about 10 miles out of town to Dachau. Our visit to the concentration camp memorial was a short trip, but it was nice to see it, and something I think everyone should experience.
I think if you're going to make the trip, or visit that concentration camp, it's in your best interest to take at least a couple of hours instead of just one hour. It's a really heavy experience and it's really emotional; and I think in order to really appreciate it and have respect for the place itself, you do need to take a couple more hours and really take in what it may have been like to be there as someone who was a prisoner of that camp.
It was rough though. I cried a couple of times and I know that Brittany [Abercrombie] almost threw up because it was all just very gnarly. There's really not a lot to visually take it that would otherwise make you emotionally or physically sick, but it's more of the reading and realizing throughout the experience that this is what people were doing or living through on a daily basis.
It was really hot out today; about 77 to 80 degrees out, and I just remember walking through there and thinking to myself, "wow, I can't wait until we get back to air conditioning." But then, to think of the people who were there, the prisoners of this war, and in that camp specifically... there was no A/C. Many of them died from heat exhaustion, and were working in extreme conditions, whether it was cold in the winter or hot in the summers.
Seeing the gas chambers with the gurneys in them, I was just like, "oh my god." Reading that they would put two or three bodies in there at a time was just incredible. Looking around at all of my teammates and other people at the camp, it was impossible to imagine that human beings were treated like objects. It wasn't even that long ago. It was less than 100 years ago.
Our visit to the barracks with the bunk beds and how they were all really confined in spaces was really gnarly. I've had a hard time rooming with one other person and in two separate beds. I can't even imagine being one of four or more people in one small space together. It was literally just enough for someone to lie flat on his or her back and you're probably right next to someone, and there's zero privacy.
People were there for years on end. It's so hard to fathom and wrap my mind around something like that. Thinking about it, we're so spoiled now with what we have. It's just crazy that people's lives were stripped of their humanity and people were treated like animals. It basically felt like they were chickens in chicken coops and that's pretty much how these people were living everyday. I don't even know how to describe it. The men who were running these concentration camps... to completely just look at other people as animals and not as human beings; and to do the things that they did to them; beat them to death, murder them on the spot, and put them in these gas chambers, and burn them alive, it's a really, really heavy thing.
Throughout history in general, we learn from it and hope to not make the same mistakes later in life. I think it's amazing that the camp is still there for people to go visit as a living example of the past. It's huge for people to go see it and to use it as an experience and to learn from it so that we don't repeat history or repeat something like this.
Visiting this camp at the end of the trip was interesting. Throughout our 12-day trip, we were all exhausted, because it was day in and day out getting up early and being on the go; just constantly moving. I know a lot of us may have complained at some point about doing certain things or about how tired we were, but visiting Dachau at the end of our trip really put things in perspective, and I hope it made an impression on all of our girls.
At the end of the day, we do all get to go home, and we do get to rest and feel comfortable where we are. That's something the people imprisoned at that camp could never have done and some never even imagined. We were traveling for 12 days, and I mean, these people were there for years. It's just crazy. I wish that we had more time there to really experience the whole thing.
As far as volleyball goes, I felt this trip helped us learn how to work together; work out some of the kinks that we've had. We tried a couple of our different rotations and we learned different things about different players. For instance, I feel like at the end of this trip, my hitters learned how to trust me more, and I can feel that. It showed as we progressed throughout the trip.
Spending time together in general, we learned more about each other and we learned how to be more comfortable with each other. In any team sport, it's much more difficult to work with a bunch of people if you don't really get to know each other or if you don't really hang out together. It's about learning to trust each other off the court and translating that to trusting each other on the court. I think it just creates this gelling environment and I think it flows right into when we move on to the fall.
This whole trip is an experience that I will not soon forget, but I will definitely remember the camp at Dachau today. I want to come back at some point to properly visit it. Something else I will never forget is the alpine sled that we rode down in Maribor.
Brittany and I hung out quite a bit on this trip, and her and I took our own voyages through some of the cities, and I will always remember visiting the castle in Salzburg with her. We had no idea how to get up there, and we tried to ask people, and they all looked at us like, "what are you speaking?" We kind of just figured it out and somehow walked up to the castle and ended up looking around. We sat down together and enjoyed a glass of wine at the top, with the sunset in the background. That's just something I will remember for a long time; just the individual things that I did with people and the small experiences that make up the whole trip.