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Dachau

Booked a trip to Germany for my older daughter's graduation gift. She is a big history buff and wants to do the Dachau tour through Radius. As I'm booking the tour, I noticed it said no kids under 14. My youngest is 13. Will they check her age? I have no reservations about her going but hate to get to the train station and get turned away. Thanks!

Posted by
3651 posts

Can't answer your specific question, but do have a suggestion. Since she is a history buff (and presumably with an interest in WWII), have her check out a site named thirdreichruins.com. It has photos of many areas of Germany taken during or shortly after the war. It then shows photos of the same place taken much more recently. Hope this adds something to her trip.

Posted by
18371 posts

This webpage (in English) gives an email address for the Memorial. Write to them and ask about her age.

Posted by
357 posts

The website also gives useful information for visitors and recommendations for younger visitors as to suitability for some areas of the site. But if your tour company has minimum age of 14 you should talk to them first. There may be other tour companies with a lower age limit.

Posted by
1236 posts

From the Dachau website FAQ.

Is the Memorial Site appropriate for children?

There is no special exhibition for children at the Dachau Memorial
Site, and some of the content may not be appropriate for children
under 13. It is therefore recommended that children visit the Memorial
Site only when accompanied by their parents. All of the programs
offered by the Education Department are for visitors aged 13 and
above.

I would just do Dachau by yourself. It's easy enough to get there by train and then bus. You don't need to book a tour like Radius.

Posted by
28075 posts

as some have said above, the 14 is a Radius requirement - it is 13 at the memorial.

There is no special exhibition for children at the Dachau Memorial Site, and some of the content may not be appropriate for children under 13. It is therefore recommended that children visit the Memorial Site only when accompanied by their parents. All of the programs offered by the Education Department are for visitors aged 13 and above.

Posted by
18371 posts

I would just do Dachau by yourself. It's easy enough to get there by
train and then bus. You don't need to book a tour like Radius.

I would agree completely. IMO, the most significant thing 3rd party guides do is babysit you on the train and bus getting to the Memorial. When I went out to Dachau in 2009, I did it on my own. If there is a group of you, just buy an M-1 group day-ticket for 17,-€. If you will be doing any other travel in downtown Munich that day, or would need to use transportation to get to the Hbf for a tour, you would need an M group day-ticket anyway, for 15,60€, so it's just 1,40€ to include Dachau.

Admission to the Memorial is free, and the 4€ tours are led by guides trained to include everything the Memorial thinks you need to know about Dachau. When I took the tour, our guide spent 2½ hours telling us much more than I could ever remember. I can't imagine anything more you need to be told for $30 extra.

So, go to your nearest S-Bahn station (for DIY, you don't have to start at the Hbf). Assuming you're still in the central zone, buy a M-1 Gruppen Tageskarte (day ticket for up to 5 adults) for 17,-€ (or a Single Tageskarte for 9,30€). Board the next S2 in the direction of Altomünster or Petershausen. Get off at Dachau Bahnhof, the next stop after Karlsfeld. When you get off at Dachau Bhf, walk down the hill to the front of the Bhf, to the bus stops. The bus to the Memorial is bus 726, but the stop will be clearly marked as the bus to "Dachau, KZ-Gedenkstätte". Take the bus 7 minutes to the Memorial.

If you have to wait a while for the next tour, you can always watch the Documentary Film first or there is a nice cafeteria where you can get food.

Posted by
8166 posts

Disclaimer: Lee has never done a tour at Dachau and thus has zero idea what the guides do, but I do know it is more than "babysitting" you on the train. The guides have extensive training at Dachau or they are not allowed to guide there, they meet with survivors and they keep up their research on a constant basis. To casually and constantly, dismiss people who take responsibility to impart this serious information to visitors is uncalled for.

Posted by
18371 posts

Correction: I have done a tour at Dachau. It took the tour given by the Memorial itself, which trains all of their guides, and, I believe, most of the 3rd party guides initially. To claim that the Memorial's own guide don't provide you in 2½ hours with a good understanding of what went on at Dachau is to besmirch a fine organization and their guides. Does the Memorial deliberately withhold some important information from their tours just so the the 3rd party guides can give you a better one?

The Memorial's own tours are 2½ hours with their guide plus a half hour film - 3 hours total. The 3rd party tours take 5 hours from downtown Munich to the Memorial and back. So they have an extra 2 hours, but ¾ of that time is spent on a noisy, crowded S-Bahn, waiting at the bus stop, or on the bus where I doubt that they have access to the PA system. Think about it. Where would they have the opportunity to impart on you all of this vital extra information?

The 3rd party tours charge a lot more for their tours, but they do provide guides who lead you to and from the site on what is actually public transportation (S-Bahn & a city bus). I believe that that is the major drawing card for people who feel negotiating public transportation in Munich is beyond their ability.

Posted by
8166 posts

You have taken a total of one tour, but never taken a tour with a guide NOT from the Dachau KZ. Thus, you have no idea what they know and don't know and you continue to disrespect them on this forum.

This comes up over and over and you continue your rant against private guides and private tours, yet you know nothing about them.

Do you imagine that private guides and tours sit in silence on the way to and from Dachau with their groups?

I would never besmirch the guides or tours at Dachau! Any guide doing this kind of work should be honored and respected.

Posted by
4139 posts

We stayed in Dachau and the camp was close to the hotel. We went later in the day and only had about 1.5 hours to see it. Much of what is there to see (barracks, ovens, toilets, admin building, towers, etc.) is self explanatory and in my opinion a tour isn’t necessary. I’m sure a guide would have more information to add; much more than I’d ever remember.

Posted by
18371 posts

Admission to the Memorial is free, and there are signs explaining a lot. But having taken the Memorial's guided tour, I think it is well worth the 4,-€ cost.

Question: if a 3rd party tour company offered an hour longer tour at the site with their own guides, who, of course, know so much more than the Memorial's own guides, for people who are already at the site, for say, 25,-€, more, do you think they would get any takers? I certainly wouldn't be one of the "takers".

Posted by
898 posts

We went to Dachau with our 12 and 15 year olds. Prior to the trip, we attended a presentation by a holocaust survivor. We talked a lot about what happened at Dachau and other camps. It’s important to go into it prepared. We did not do a tour. We took the train from Munich, then the bus. Then we walked through on our own using audio guides. There were tours offered, but we did not feel the need.

It’s a draining day emotionally. I could feel the evil radiating from that place. We’ve never been to another site where we couldn’t wait to leave. But it’s so important that people (especially young people) see it for themselves, as there are people that deny the holocaust. Once the survivors are gone, someone needs to keep telling the story.

Posted by
2 posts

@travel4fun- I love your reply! We feel like history is important and want all our girls to understand the significance. My older daughter wanted the tour because she loves history so much and wanted a guides viewpoint:). Thank you!

Posted by
8852 posts

Ms. Jo has a very good point about people recommending against something they have no first hand knowledge of. We took a Radius tour to Dachau and found it very worthwhile. I definitely recommend the experience. That doesn’t mean one can’t do it on their own, it means that with the guide they can give more information before and after the tour that may not be available to someone who simply takes the tour given at Dachau. It’s not always about doing something as cheaply as possible.

Posted by
5602 posts

I didn't see any sense at all in taking my daughter to Dachau or other to other Holocaust memorial sites. Her 13 years of public education were in fact much like mine - peppered with lessons and regular references to the horrors foisted on Europe's minority populations by the Nazis. She'd seen Schindler's List and probably 4-5 other Holocaust-themed films, and she'd read Anne Frank's Diary. None of her teachers, friends, or anyone else in her life had ever suggested to her that the Holocaust was anything but factual. Her risk of becoming a Holocaust denier approximated her risk of having a heat stroke in a Minnesota December, and in my sound parental judgment, a visit would have been unnecessarily repetitive and out-of-synch with our travel goals - which had more to do with learning NEW things.

I really doubt that my daughter's lack of Holocaust memorial site experiences will contribute in the slightest to incidents of genocide in the future. She is highly unlikely to ever meet an actual Holocaust denier - and if she ever does, there's nothing she could draw on from a Dachau visit that would convince such a delusional individual of the truth. It's like arguing with flat-earthers.

And I'm fairly convinced that at age 13, even if going there was her idea, a visit would have been at least a little traumatic for her developing mind - and in addition to ruining a travel day for other activities, it might actually have colored her attitude toward today's Germans and modern-day Germany unfavorably. I would not have wanted that. Modern Germany is in fact light years from the 1940's and has done an impressive job of telling the real Holocaust story to its own people and others.

Now, if there were a way to drag the DENIERS to these sites for a thorough re-education, I might support that idea on the basis that some may have a handful of brain cells to save.

Posted by
167 posts

If anyone wants to introduce someone to some Holocaust deniers I can unfortunately introduce them to a couple of my family members.

This is the exact reason I am taking my 14 year old daughter to Dachau in October. They need to know and understand how easy it is to slip into complacency and let you world disintegrate around you.

A former boss of mine was a German refugee after WW2. As a young girl living near a work camp, they all knew something was going on over there but did not talk about it for fear of retribution from their then governmental authorities. She would tell me about the ash that would sometimes settle over their homes, gardens and clothes. Don’t ask. Don’t talk. Pretend it does not exist. That is what many of the German citizens had to do to survive back then.

Stories like Elisabet’s are vital and, back to the original question, are some of the added benefits a private tour guide can impart. We actually hire a guide at least once per trip and have always been very impressed with the additional depth of understanding that we can get from a personal perspective and the fact that they can usually answer all of the spur of the moment questions we may have.

Posted by
204 posts

I think more important than knowing is feeling. I can read about anything I want, but I read and understand it differently when I am IN a place. When I can get a sense of the magnitude, the reality, the human side of things . . . . there is a solemnity, a sense of realness, a personal element, that cannot be replicated in photos, books, or movies. Something about seeing the same sunshine or rain that you see every day and feeling the same warmth or biting cold that the people there experienced--the smells, the birds in the background, looking at the same trees that bore witness to the events of a previous time--it changes you.

In a time of war, hunger, authoritarianism, and marginalisation it is critical that we understand and act based on lessons of the past. The fact that your kids already understand this is a testament to their characters and your role in teaching them, and they will likely get a lot out of the parts of the tour that focus on the present and future as well. That's why we learn it, right?

As to your original question, I would contact the company and speak with them. The rule is often flexible and designed for the clueless folks who have no concept of what they are about to witness. There are more of those than people often realise.