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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 48.1391, 11.5802
Today started off with an excellent breakfast at Hotel Atlanta. In addition to cheese, meat, Mueslix, breads, rolls, and coffee, there were hard boiled eggs kept warm inside "bunny warmers." They were really bunnies. What the heck are there a bunch of stuffed bunnies in a container for, we wondered... Always an adventure. The eggs were good. Lesson learned, leave no stuffed bunny unturned.
From breakfast, we headed to the Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station) to check on booking a train to Garmisch and Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. Our travel book recommended stopping by the "Euraide" office. There, we were met by an interesting gentleman (not sure if that is the right word) who offered to "help" us. We got some good general information but his overall attitude and tone was more like "Eur-stupid" instead of "Eur-aide." We swallowed our pride and left shaking our heads. We think we have enough information for tomorrow's trip. We'll find out without anymore "Euraide."
From there we took a "behind the wall" path (Herzog Wilhelmstrasse) back toward our hotel. It was around 9:30 a.m. and we were surprised to see the streets were pretty much empty, except for some people drinking beer for
breakfast. (No joke.)
We arrived at the Munchenstadt Museum and discovered, like much of the rest of Munich, they didn't open until 10:00. So we walked around an interesting Jewish cafe/museum/bookstore that had multilingual conversations posted around the perimeter walls. It was clear to us that, when discussing the Holocaust, much of Germany is still in the process of making meaning of what happened. This was an eye-opener of things to come later in the day.
Next: Italian Capuccino to relax until the Munchenstadt Museum opened. It was tasty. The outdoor cafes offer blankets to patrons to keep warm. Apparently it has been unseasonably cold and wet here this summer. The day turned out beautifully, however. Not too hot, not too wet.
Enter the museum. Goodbye gepacken (bags). Just as we were about to enter the lower level, in came a large group of schoolchildren. (THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUMMER VACATION!!) Just kidding. Despite the large group, we met an interesting guide name Joseph Claus. A Munich resident for over 20 years, he came from Amsterdam and spoke five languages. Though he only spoke to us in English, the time he spent discussing small details made it seem, at times, that he
was using all five languages to tell the same story. On the other hand, he was extremely informative and gave us a great deal of information about the earlier years in Munich: how the city bribed the Swedes to spare it, how Marienplatz was granted a Mary statue to honor the city being spared during the Plague, and the statues representing the city's worst fears: hunger, war, pestilence, and "other religions." There was also a painting of Munich in 1634 that, from a distance, looked relatively "typical." With his trusty pen, Joseph pointed out a hanging, two warring friends cuffed together atop a 9 foot tall "horse" for 3 days (Medieval peer mediation), pickpockets, travellers, and, due to the lack of public "facilities," certain individuals excreting. Rich adds they must have come from Crete. Perhaps the more things change the more they stay the same.
From there it was upstairs to learn about the rise of National Socialism in Munich. This display was confusing. Emily, come help them. The English translations didn't match up well with the various exhibits. Down on the ground floor, another exhibit gave some rather graphic details of the propaganda used to sell the Nazi message as
well as some of the horrific deeds undertaken by Third Reich officers.
A quick trip back to the hotel for Jake and Jeannette was needed to move from the small house to the penthouse. (Whoa, private shower... cool!)
Back at Marienplatz, we met up with our tour guide, Jeff. This guy knew a lot of information and, unlike Mr. Claus, had the gift of holding everyone's attention and selecting all the right details at the right times. He took us to the Dachau memorial via S-Bahn and bus, about a 30 minute trip. There, we encountered a very somber, sobering sight. Dachau was Hitler's first camp, opened in 1933 very shortly after the Nazis took power, and the only one to remain open throughout WWII and until its liberation in 1945. Though not known as being an extermination camp, enacting the "final solution," it was the model upon which the others were built. A death toll at Dachau of 40,000 seems a bit low considering those not accounted for. It was an indescribable feeling to be in such a dark place. Jeff told us, in great detail, about the living conditions, physical and psychological torture, and dehumanizing experiences the prisoners underwent. To
mainstream Germany, Dachau was billed as a place where political prisoners were taken into "protective custody." Again, propaganda rears its ugly head.
Having visited Dachau in 1995, Jake and Jeannette were surprised at how the memorial/exhibit has evolved. The 2009 experience provided much greater detail about what kinds of individuals were imprisoned there, and how each wore a color coded triangle to represent his offense. In addition to housing Jews, Dachau also had significant numbers of gypsies, political prisoners, Catholic priests, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, repeat offenders, and those who might have been labeled "criminally insane." The purpose behind these color codes was to pit various groups of prisoners against each other, which was one more form of social control. A memorial used the phrase "Never Again" in five different languages. However somber, this place is one that everyone should visit, especially those in positions of influence.
Having read earlier about Konigsplatz (we dubbed "Nazi Square"😉, we paid it a visit on our return to Munich. There was some kind of concert being staged there so we weren't able to walk diretly on the grounds. This is an interesting fact, because during the Nazi years the entire area was paved. At the front
were two memorials to the Nazis killed during the Beer Putsch in 1923 that Hitler built and then required passers-by to salute, calling these men noble Germans. (These two structures were torn down by the Americans in 1947). Since then, the entire area has become "park-like." The metaphor of "letting the grass grow over" is perhaps an appropriate one.
P.S. German port-a-potties are called "ASS." (If we ever get our cameras to sync with this computer, we will share a photo.) This is not a joke.
We closed out the day by walking back towards our hotel to find a restaurant and settled on the Tannenbaum. Instead of eating a full meal, we shared a plate of Bavarian meats and cheeses. Barb thought the butter was cheese, diligently slicing it into four wedges for everyone's enjoyment. Fortunately for us, she took a bite of hers first. In her defense, it really did look like cheese. We enjoyed the best yet Weissbier "Andrechs" that had a recipe older than our country and then moved on to the Zum Spockmeier restaurant for lots and lots of Weinerschnitzel. Mmm!
A long, but productive day all in all. Jeannette's ATM card is still being troublesome, but we
Translation: Work Shall Make You Free.
are confident it will be OK in the morning.
Guten nacht! Auf Wiedersehen!
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