A Visit to Dachau - Part Two

The second and third parts of my reflections on visiting Dachau concentration camp will be dedicated more to my own personal contemplations rather than the parts of the museum I went to. I had so many different thoughts, I decided it would be more reader-friendly to separate them into their own posts.

German students
My friend and I spent around two hours in the museum's main exhibit, which begins with the camp's founding and ends with its liberation and the creation of the museum. There is all sorts of information for you to take in - or try to - in rooms that were once used for the registration, showering and delousing of new prisoners. Understandably, the atmosphere in the exhibition was one of silence, contemplation and horror.
The silence was broken, however, by a group of students, probably around the age of 16, making their way through the exhibition. They ran around; they shouted; one of them grinned at me as I gave them something of a warning look. This happened a couple of times, and I was close to saying something, but they soon disappeared into another room and did not return. It was only afterwards that it struck me that those children had been speaking German.
As far as I know, it is generally considered mandatory for German students to visit at least one concentration camp as part of their studies into the Holocaust. World War II is still living history, in some respects, as many people who lived through those times are still here today. For Germans, it is particularly important for them to learn about what their country and its leadership were like during those times, and to be aware of the many sites that were once home to mass murder that remain.
The group that I saw, however, did not seem the slightest bit interested in what was around them. Perhaps they were brought back to the reality around them by the crematoria they surely saw later on; I certainly hope so. I suppose information boards and displays can seem dull to younger people, but on a subject so tragic, that probably took place in their grandparents' lifetimes, I cannot fathom such dismissive behaviour.
Do they really feel sites like Dachau have no relevance to them? Have they simply become desensitised after having so much Holocaust education drilled into them? I would be lying if I said I was familiar with the German curriculum, but, as with most things, too much of a thing can turn bad. Holocaust education is to promote remembrance, awareness and responsibility (firm principles held by the Auschwitz Museum), but there must be a balance made in exposure to the subject.
It is also clear to see why Auschwitz is the place chosen for the Holocaust Educational Trust's trips. Not only is it vast, but the physical objects on display really bring the reality of the whole thing home.
I'm sure the group I witnessed were just a one-off, but I really hope the appropriate level of Holocaust education is being given to German students; that they can appreciate the importance of sites like Dachau, but not have it hammered into them.

Child visitors
Many Holocaust exhibitions strongly advise against bringing children to them; for example, at the Imperial War Museum in London, children under 11 are simply not allowed in to the Holocaust Exhibition. Dachau, on the other hand, are slightly more relaxed. This is what appears on the FAQs page of the museum website:

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 12; however, visitors will not be turned away based on age.

Towards the end of the main exhibition, there is a short film, reproduced in colour, showing Dachau as it was when the Americans liberated the camp in April 1945. It is not for the faint-hearted; snow-covered bodies in trains from Buchenwald are shown, as well as close-ups of the sunken, emaciated faces of the dead, and these are just some of the examples.
As I stood watching the video, an American man and a small boy holding his hand, who I cannot imagine was more than six years old, stopped to look, too. At that point, the video showed a pile of naked, skeleton-like bodies and some of their faces.
The little boy pointed up at the screen. "Daddy, what are those?"
"They're people," he replied.
After another moment, the boy seemed to have had enough, and walked away, his father in tow.
I didn't quite know what to make of what I had just seen. My 10-year-old brother is already interested to learn about the Holocaust, but I wouldn't even think of showing him something so graphic and horrific. Why didn't the father try and shield his son from that, or ask his wife (who was carrying another child) to perhaps wait outside with the children, so they could take it in turns to have a quick look round?
I understand it must be difficult for families, especially those who have travelled to a place, to leave their children with other people or take them somewhere else. Something just didn't sit right with me about that little boy seeing that kind of video, though. Who knows what he thought in his little mind about it? How do we know it won't cause him nightmares, or prevent him wanting to learn about the Holocaust in the future? Each parent to their own, of course, but I really feel age restrictions in places such as Holocaust memorial sites should be paid close attention.