Munich, including Dachau
Wed 15 Jul 2015 - Wed 15 Jul 2015
The day started off with a beautifully laid-out breakfast with Mark and Laura.
A wonderful Bavarian breakfast: coffee and beer, weisswurst with sweet mustard (yum!), pickles, and a pretzel!
Mark had some things to do, so I was on my own for the day.
I feel it’s important to view a Nazi concentration camp if possible, so I headed to Dachau. I really don’t have words for how I felt. Dachau was the very first KZ (concentration camp) the Nazis created and served as a model for those that followed. As I stood in the waiting room for the shower area, then under the showers, then in the room with the plaque that said, “This is where the bodies were piled,” I was just thankful for the knowledge that this specific shower area was never used en masse. I don’t think I could have done it otherwise.
This is the prototype "shower" room. Fake shower heads were installed above, and chemicals were poured into the grilled window via an outside chute.
There is a beautiful garden/wooded area in the back of the camp, where the ashes of the cremated were buried. It's a quiet, contemplative place where few people go. I can't say that I found peace here, but the shady quiet provided some personal space that allowed me to process what I was seeing.
Also seen along this path:
This is a view of the perimeter, with a guard tower in the distance. Between the ditch/moat and the fence was the "neutral zone," and guards would shoot inmates who set foot on it. There are stories of guards who would steal an inmate's cap and throw it into the neutral zone, forcing the inmate to retrieve it--appearing at roll call without the cap meant a severe, if not fatal, beating--and then shoot the inmate when he entered the zone. There are also stories of inmates intentionally walking into the neutral zone as a method of suicide.
I spent some time getting my head together before heading back to the city.
When I returned to Munich, I visited the Residenz, residential palace of the Bavarian royal family for hundreds of years. While it was absolutely beautiful, I was struck more by the absence of some of the art, rather than its presence; holes that used to be occupied by artwork that couldn’t be restored after the Allies bombed Munich in WWII. To see these beautiful pieces missing large sections—often the centerpiece in a room—was startling, and spoke volumes all by itself. This first photo below features some blank spots.
I was pretty done in by the time I returned to Mark and Laura’s flat, but after a short rest I was able to join them for a trip to the English Gardens for dinner. I am so glad I did—what fun! We ate our food in the shade and played several games of Uno.
This poster was at the English Gardens, advertising a dance that takes place at 6am!! Laura explained that this tradition began when someone realized that the barmaids couldn't ever attend a dance because they always had to work, so a special dance was held at odd hours just for them. The English Gardens still holds such a dance every summer.
A notable sight while travelling to the English Gardens, near the university. These are bullet holes, where university students protesting Hitler were shot. I don't know details of the story, or if this site is specifically related to the White Rose resistance movement (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/whiterose.html), but it's a fair assumption to make.