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Germany

Should I take my children on a concentration camp tour?

My husband and I are debating whether to take our children (9 yo girl, 11 yo boy) to any of the concentration camps while we are in Germany.  Has anyone had experience with taking their children to any of the camps and teaching about this part of history and if so how was it received?


9 Answers

top answer by
Polly from Washington, DC

If you visit Dachau Concentration Camp, it's more about what isn't there than what is - the grounds today are a quiet place of reflection. Without the context of what went on there, I doubt kids would find it inherently disturbing. Tours are usually self-guided. Exhibits in the museum would probably be the most disturbing and raise the most questions.

I don't have kids, but I have taught both age groups you mention and nine is pretty young to digest something like the Holocaust. Eleven is right on the cusp. If your kids like to read, you might want to try out some books first to get a feel for how they would handle the subject. Of course, I'd suggest you read them first! You're the best judge of what your kids can understand and cope with.

I would suggest 'Number the Stars' by Lois Lowry for your daughter and *maybe* the graphic novel 'MAUS' by Art Speigelman for your son. ('MAUS', despite being a "comic" is pretty advanced - I first read it when I was 12 and still think it's brilliantly crafted as an adult.) Alternatives for your son could be Anne Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' or 'The Devil's Arithmetic' by Jane Yolen.


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  1. Dachau Concentration Camp (attraction)
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answered by
Terry from Sarasota

Absolutely, because if we do not do our best to educate our children as to what happened, and where it happened, and why it happened, then the potential for those things to happen again exist.

We have taken our teenage son to Dachau, and to the Nazi Documentation Center in Nürnberg. My wife and I walked with him, pointing out various things and engaging him in conversation over what he was seeing, and what he felt about it.  I feel that it was time well spent, and I think he will never forget the experience.

Dachau is an easy drive from Munich, or you could utilize the train. Nurnberg is also a nice day trip from Munich, assuming that you will have a car to utilize.


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  1. Dachau (attraction)
  2. Nürnberg (attraction)
  3. Munich (city)
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answered by
Dawn

I took my daughter to Dachau when she was twelve. Was it disturbing to her? Yes. Was she traumatized? No. My answer is take your children. Imagine the horror of the children who had to endure it! Our children are just looking at it. All of these helps your child grow and mature into compassionate adults.


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  1. Dachau (attraction)
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answered by
Ashley from Calgary

I would definitely take them. Kids start to learn about the wars in elementary school and take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies, etc. It's perfectly reasonable and I would suggest even a good experience for them to take in. We saw quite a few kids when we were at Dachau Concentration Camp.... 


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  1. Dachau Concentration Camp (attraction)
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answered by
Janelle from Charleston

My parents took me to Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau when I was 8.  I handled it just fine because I had learnt a little bit about the Holocaust in school and from my mum and dad.  Dachau Concentration Camp is the most graphic and sobering of all the camp museums, so it might be a bit intense for a 9 and 11 year old, but it depends on your kids' overall maturity.  It would definitely help soften the blow for your kids if you and your husband had a long discussion with them to explain the exact magnitude of what happened before you take them to the camps.  Definitely take a guided tour...the guides are trained to explain the camp sights to kids in a sensitive and age appropriate way.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau (attraction)
  2. Dachau Concentration Camp (attraction)
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answered by
Ragan from Nebraska

We took our young adult children,18 & 21, last June to Dachau Concentration Campit was difficult for them. It was difficult for us. That being said I'm not sure at the ages your kiddos are they would be able to grasp the depths of the atrocities that were committed there. To them it would be just another museum unless you were able to give them some sort of guidance..but as the previous comment says it is required for Germans students to go there....goodluck! Enjoy your trip!


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answered by
Sandra from McMinnville (Oregon)

Couple things to keep in mind: German school kids first start learning about WW2 in the 3rd and many in the Munich area take a field trip to Dachau. They have specific guid programs to help explain it to kids. Also you know your children better than any of us here. If you think they can handle it than yes take them, but make sure you guys talk about it first, don't make walking up to it the intro. Because they are self guided (at least dachau) you set the pace, if they are getting overwhelmed feel free to stop and talk, skip stuff, or even just leave.  

 

I was 15 and my brother was 12 when we went, and it still to the day 16 years later is one if the most impact flu things we have done that we still talk about.


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answered by
Jeremy from Berlin

I don't have kids that age, nor have I been to Dachau with kids that age. But I completely support taking a 9- and 11-year-old. I don't think that's too early to learn history and help them grow up level-headed.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dachau (attraction)
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answered by
Rockie from Atlanta

Oh sure. There are lots of school children that visit. The grounds and presentation are very quiet/museum-like. It is powerful. I went to Dachau as a child (maybe around 10/11 yrs) and am grateful to have had such a profound and educational experience. 


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