<deep breath>

Dachau is a fairly ordinary town-cum-suburb. There's new bits and there's older bits. And right in the middle of the older bit is a huge car park and a path that leads along the wall of the Dachau labour camp.

At the start of the path is a bus-stop looking thing with a plaque. Alongside the path are the foundations of a long building. It reminds me of something I remember from my childhood - some ruins that are along the beach at Lepe. Not that there's a beach, mind you. But there is the same concrete floored, long, straight building only now visible from its foundations. This one's a guard house for the camp. Ironically, the one at Lepe is one of the places that they built the Mulberry harbours for the D-Day invasion.

In front of the entrance is what's left of a small railway yard. The concrete ramp and the rails are more depressing, in a way, than those awful marshalling yards at Birkenau. Those were almost a grand statement of designed deadliness. These more speak more of misery, of despair, of shuffling souls and petty despots.

Turning to go in, we're confronted by gates and that inscription again: 'Arbeit Macht Frei'. Its a creepy feeling, not made better by the giggling girls taking turns to stand behind the gates and have their photographs taken. It may be bright and sunny but those gates make things darker. We walk through and into the yard of this ex-munitions factory. Most of the buildings remain but the wooden prisoner huts have more or less gone. Like Birkenau, just one row remains. All the guard towers remain.

The main administrative blocks and the prison camp's prison (is there a much more absurd concept?) are now the museum. This is a substantially better presented affair than that at Auchwitz, although without the dramatic and hard-hitting items like the wall of hair. Jerry notices a grimly satisfying fact: the town of Dachau welcomed and wanted the camp. They thought it would bring employment and money into the area. It didn't - everything was run centrally. Dachau gained nothing except a nasty reputation.

After this thoroughly well done museum we walk through the huts that remain and down to the back of the site. The people that were everywhere seem to have mainly left. Almost empty, somehow the place feels worse. Thing is, this place is a labour camp, not an extermination camp. It was the first of the camps, a model for many of the others. The prisoners still died in large numbers, although only a comparative few died in the gas chamber (yes, there is one). Living here was no picnic, no cakewalk. No cake at all. The camp staff were brutal and the rations were short. There were torture facilities in the prison blocks (they're still there).

The path goes off between the trees in the corner of the site. Walking through there, we pass a statue to the prisoners. Its a sort of "statue to the unknown prisoner" and a curiously powerful image.

Round the corner, there's a low, single storey building. This contains steaming units for clothes, a changing area, the gas chamber and the ovens. Walking through the gas chamber is a decidedly unpleasant experience. Nevertheless I felt it would be cowardice to walk away. The ghoul behind me took photos in there. I couldn't. Things were too brutal. They used to hang prisoners right in front of the ovens. More convenient for disposal, see.

I need to get out of this place and head for the exit. I can't cope with the contrast between the camp and the town and I want to leave both behind.