There is a verse in the Bible which could sum up Dachau as it is at the moment:
"We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us." Psalm 79.4
Most of the visitors to Dachau come away with that impression.
But that does not have to be and that is not the last word on the issue.
In Habbakkuk 2. 14 it says: "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."
It doesn't say:
"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea except Dachau because they have a concentration camp there and it's their own stupid fault."
No. God says "The earth" and that means everywhere including Dachau.
How is this going to happen?
It happens with a town or a country the same way it happens with an individual.
With an individual it comes when we humble ourselves before God. And He will lift us up.
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4.10)
For a town or nation it says: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7.14)
So, if we humble ourselves before God, he will lift us up, whether we are an individual or a town or nation.
It doesn't help to say before God: "Well actually I am not a bad person really, and my good points outweigh my bad ones." We must open up ourselves to God and admit our sins."
The same way for Dachau. Dachau, (like every other town in the world where gruesome things happened) must come before God and admit things were not right. It is no good saying, we are actually a very nice town and we have lots of nice artists and people here, and we had a revolt here too (albeit one week before the Americans got there). We must admit our faults.
But the good news is the second part of the verse in James 4.10 (above). If we humble ourselves, God will lift us up. He will make the difference. And for the town, He will do good things for Dachau the like of which you could never imagine.
Many people in Dachau have done more than their fare share of praying and repentance. Probably more than any town in Germany. Whereas other towns can forget the past a bit a smudge it out, Dachau is faced with the past every day.
But the second stage is to believe that God has heard our prayers and forgiven our sin.
This only comes when we realise what Jesus has done for us on the cross. What is valid for an individual is also valid for a town, when His people humble themselves in it.
When he died on the cross, Jesus took our sins and our sicknesses.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1.9)
So when we ask God to forgive our sins they are forgiven.
"You have cast all my sins behind your back" (Isaiah38.17)
And in Hebrews 8.12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
So, even though that may stick in the throats of many people regarding Dachau, the Bible says it: Once something is confessed to God and we believe the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all sin, then that is it!
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old." (Isaiah 43.18)
2 Chronicles 7.14 says "... I will heal their land." This mean physical and mental healing. God wants those things which are out of joint to be fixed. He also want to restore joy and happiness:
"Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen" Joel 2.19
This was originally to the Jews, but they are there as God's example to the world. The same may apply to us.
This won't come by trying to be funny and just playing the clown. Nor will it come from constant mourning or self-castigation. But when God power and love comes upon the people, God can make something good out of whatever situation the devil had created.
A great bible verse is:
Romans 5.20 "Where sin abounds, Grace does much more abound."
And often, God can forgive easier than we can.
The majority of the Bible, the world's greatest book, was written by Moses, David and the Apostle Paul. Strange as it may seem, they were all murderers.
After his time in the wilderness, God called Moses.
Moses felt unworthy, he thought someone ought to go to Pharaoh instead of him.
King David, after he had murdered Uriah the Hittite, said:
"Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." (Ps 51.4)
The Apostle Paul who abetted the murder of St. Stephen said:
" This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (1Tim 1.15)
So, God can use anyone once they come to him in repentance. And the same goes for a town.
Today, the world is full of cases where an atrocity has been perpetrated by one group against another. In 1994 800,000 Rwandans were killed in about 100 days. The world, by and large left them alone. Then there is Kosovo, Iraq, Georgia, N. Ireland, Israel, Sudan etc. In all these areas, there are the victims and the victors. It is not just the victims who need help, but the victors. All have to learn that despite their past, there is a loving Heavenly Father, who doesn't want all this carnage and wants the people to live together.
This can only be done with Jesus' help. And God has a plan for Dachau. When His power seen in the town, with joy, happiness, reconciliation, healing and success, then the world will see that there is hope for them too.
"For I know the plans I have for you (Dachau),' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29.11)