Dachau concentration camp

Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free,” is seen in the wrought-iron gate as you enter Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

As we approached the entrance of the concentration camp, I had decided not to take a lot of photos. Maybe a few here and there, but mainly I was there to take in the site without any distractions. Little did I know that my experience at the entrance would be the most emotional moment of my visit.

As we approached the gate, I saw the words, Arbeit macht frei, which I knew loosely translated to, Work makes free. Then I read the description next to the gate which translated the phrase to, Work sets you free.

I knew that the phrase was ironic, because once you entered the gates of Dachau, the purpose wasn’t to reform or re-educate, it was to exterminate.

I decided to take a photo of words in the gate, but it was wide open. Swung to the side, so that there wasn’t a good shot.

Tourists were coming and going, so I waited until no one was going through the gate and I swung it around so that it almost closed. I wanted the words to have a blue sky background as contrast so they would be readable.

What I didn’t realize was that the heavy weight of the gate gave it momentum as a swung it, and it completed it’s journey, closing in front of me with a loud clang.


Whoa. I’d just closed the gate to Dachau concentration camp. Those around me were stopped. We all heard it.

My heard stopped.

Did I lock us out?

I quickly framed the shot and took a photo. Then pushed the gate and it opened.

People then resumed entering and exiting as normal.

We entered the camp and stopped.

I asked my friends if they heard the gate close too.

Yes. They heard it too.

It’s a sound that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Read more on the current history of this gate:

Blacksmith creates replica of ‘Work sets you free’ gate stolen from Dachau concentration camp.

Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz of Burlington provided me with a 2017 Mercedes-Benz S550 Cabriolet, hotel accommodations, selected meals, and tours, to experience the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program. The car came with a full tank of gas and insurance coverage. I was not asked to write anything about the car in exchange for the opportunity and was not provided any other compensation of any kind. All opinions I express regarding the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program are my own.