Germany Day 19 – A day of contrasts

Today started with a visited with a visit to Dachau Concentration Camp. Depressing as I knew it would be, I don’t believe it would be right to come to Germany and not visit one of the camps. Kevin, of course, was keen to go as he’s read a LOT about WWII and the Nazis.

We entered through the main gate and it’s just impossible to imagine the horror of the people who were forced to come here. Such a dull and colourless place, especially on an overcast day like today. The sign reads ” work will set you free”.

There are trees surrounding the main compound and at times all you could hear were the birds singing – which seemed so at odd with the nature of the place.

We did an audio tour (with Amy & Harriet) that took us all around the memorial site.

Dachau was the first built camp (before the war even started) and was the model for all others. It was also the training ground for other camp leaders.

Built to house 6,000, when the camp was liberated by the Americans at the end of the war, there were 32,000 – so you can only imagine the cramped living conditions.

It was a tough morning for me emotionally. I mean, I get upset enough about the treatment of animals. I did okay until the photo of bodies piled high…which I won’t share on here… I’m sure you’ve seen similar photos before and it’s definitely not something you can ever forget.

We saw the crematorium – used to dispose of the bodies so no-one really knew how many they were killing off.

There a gas chamber here – built to see if they could get people to enter under the false pretext of a shower. So it was used for trail purposes only, not for mass murder – as in many of the other camps.

I pretty much stopped taking photos (and video) once we got to the museum as that’s when I really needed the tissues. Seeing photos of babies and wives, taken from the men who were here really got to me and then reading some of their stories. I’m kind of glad only men were here, not sure I could have coped reading about women & children. I tend to put myself in people’s shoes and imagine how they would have felt and how they would have suffered (which is also why I’m glad the medical and torture rooms were closed – not that I would have gone in the torture room).
So hard to imagine that all this took place in my grandparents generation. Both my grandfathers fought for Britain during the war. And my Poppa was involved in the liberation of one of the camps. But I’m not sure which one because he never really talked about the war (I’m not even sure if my Granny knows).

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we missed seeing the video in English. But we think it’s the same one that Kevin purchased.

Still feeling a bit numb and rather sad we headed back to the information center and sat outside to eat our packed lunch – which was some rolls we’d made ourselves, fruit, drink and a treat.

Eaten beside these gorgeous trees.

We then boarded the bus for a very different afternoon. Kevin took the time to have a nap!

We went to the town of Abensberg where we had a bit of free time to explore before our tour time. Such a cute little town, though nothing was open because it was May Day (1st of May).

We love how so many homes are covered in solar panels.

And check out the size of this flower.

We stopped in the Beirgarten and got an ice-cream from the vending machine – don’t have these in Australia!

Finally it was time to see what we’d came to see… The Hundertwasser Towel…

But first we had to do a tour of the beer museum. Let’s just say the owner of the brewery must be an eccentric. The tour started off normally enough – we got to the see the bar from the movie Casablanca that the owner had bought from Hollywood and had shipped over.

We learnt about how beer is made.

Kevin and I both thought these girls were part of the tour (which is why we took their photo) but it turns out they were tourists….from America! Kevin wants me to get a dress like this…but I think he’d be mighty disappointed if I did :-).

This map shows all the breweries just in Bavaria.

We should have known things were getting weird when the singing dwarves appeared. But since the owner wrote a story about dwarves for his children we thought okay…

Then came the painting of the last supper. And it’s subsequent analysis. We were waiting the for punchline – something to do with beer of course. But it never came. This was truly the strangest thing I have ever sat through. It wouldn’t have matter the subject of the painting, the analysis of it was total crap (sorry, that’s the only word to describe it).

After this came more singing dwarves and by now I was totally confused … being that we were in a beer museum.

Then finally we got to go up the tower, which seemed so normal after the strangeness of the tour. We caught the lift to the top, where we enjoyed a lovely view over the town.

We then walked down the stairs.. admiring the tower along the way. It was designed by a German who actually lived in New Zealand. I like the tower – it remind me of Dr Seuss.

There is another building nearby being built in a similar style.

We then got to have a beer and a pretzel..well Kevin actually had apple juice…

and I had a lemonade (Sprite)…

Then it was back on the coach for the 1.5 hour trip back to our hostel. We got to see a few maypoles that had been erected today being May Day (1st of May).

Back at the hostel it was schnitzel night again. As you can see I started eating before I remembered to take a photo. I also had some veggies.

Tomorrow : We’re heading up a mountain to find snow.

4 thoughts on “Germany Day 19 – A day of contrasts

  1. Thanks for this post Libby. I appreciated seeing the camp.Love that castle, very Dr Suess indeed. We are only 12 days away from our USA trip now so getting very excited. Have to reactivate my blog, but they have changed the formatting and I don’t know how to add new posts!!!! Will get my son Broc to have a look today and see if he can work it out.

  2. That would be a very interesting day for the students .Especially seeing the concentration camp in real life.It is still hard to believe how the Jews were treated.In dad’s life story he said “This experience had a dramatic effect on me, and continued to influence me for the rest of my life”. Even today it seems to affect most visitors.

  3. I instantly felt very ‘down’ when I saw where you had visited. It’s something that fascinates me, but at the same time terrifies me. Craig is always watching WW2 programmes ect and I can watch some of them, but many are too much for me. What gets to me is the how the people that were forced there must of felt. I don’t think we could ever understand how they must of been feelinga and thats what gets to me! It must have been a strange experience for you, but one that you will never forget.

  4. Oh my … the crematorium photos … oh wow … that’s … very moving. I’m just like you with the empathy. That photo gives me chills.

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