I have a deep interest in the history of the Holocaust and World War II. What is the most effective way to experience Dachau to learn as much as possible?
If I remember right, there's an audio tour. If not, get a guided tour because the tours tell you so much more than the info panels do. You need to hear the stories the tour tells.
When we went, we had a large enough group that we had our own dedicated guide and could go through as fast or slow as we wanted. I can see where Jacey is coming from if the guide rushes you. If there's an audio tour, do it.
We were there for at least a few hours. There's not a ton to look at, but if you want to really look at everything and let the history and the gravity of what happened there really sink in, you'll want to take it slow.
The second time we went, we showed up just an hour or so before it closed and it was too rushed. We didn't see the movie, nor did we walk through the showers and I think that those who were there for the first time really missed a large part of the experience.
I would also read up on Dachau before you go. Even just reading the Wikipedia page would be better than nothing. That way you have some of the stories in mind as you walk through and the actual events will be more real to you.
It's definitely worth the time.
We went last year, it was one of the most memorable parts of our trip.The site is pretty big, you have to walk quite a distance to get around the whole place which takes time in and of itself. The gas chambers and crematorium were the hardest part for us and we spent a lot of time just processing where we were. We didn't have a guide or anything, it's pretty easy to get around and understand what things are without one. The museum they have there has lots of information as well, depending on how much you want to read/see, that can also occupy a lot of time. If you don't want to feel rushed I'd give it "half a day", really easy day trip from Munich, make sure you take the bus from the train station to the concentration camp site or you could end up walking around lost for a while -- we learned that the hard way, but it was a great little town to walk through.
I found an organized tour that took a group of us to Dachau. The tour included train tickets and entrance tickets. I can't remember the name of the company unfortunately but I would recommend finding something of the sort. The tour guides are very knowledgable and I learned more than I would from just walking around on my own. The tour was about four hours and I still vividly remember it from a few years ago. It is a somber place but very moving.