As we leave our "home" in Munich and head for Venice, I reflect on my past three days spent here. I have loved embracing the culture, experiencing beer actually being cheaper than water, and re-learning the history I thought I already knew well enough in a completely new and different way. There is something about seeing a place or physically walking on grounds that so many have walked on before that a history book or a picture will never begin to touch on.
World War II Sites
I have already posted about my first day experiencing city life and the main attractions of Munich; however, I have yet to share the experiences from my past two days there. These days were filled with World War II history, an era that has always interested me.
The two places we visited were Dachau, the first concentration camp commissioned by the Nazi regime, and Eagle's Nest, Hitler's fiftieth birthday present built for him by high ranking Nazi leaders that was intended to display the power of the regime. What struck me the most about these two visits was the obvious and vast contrast. I could not help but be angered at the thought of Hitler living in luxury while those under his rule were having their dignity stripped in subhuman conditions and fear of death at any moment, if they had not already died or been sentenced to death. Below I will go more in depth into these two experiences.
This trip was by no means a feel-good visit. It was a necessity. We owe it to the survivors of these horrific camps to try to learn and understand what happened, no matter how hard that may be, in order to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. Dachau was the first concentration camp that all others modeled. It was equipped with horrific overcrowded living areas, a crematorium, work stations, and a gate that read "Work Makes You Free." This inscription pained me because even those who did end up "free" were not truly free. They were stripped of humanity, dignity, and pride. There truly was an eerie feeling in the air as we stood on the ground where such atrocities took place and where so many died. I was almost fearful looking at the guard towers, though I knew they were empty. I hope that one day persecution and genocide will come to an end, and I also hope that we all learn from history like this so that it never repeats itself.
On the other end of these atrocities stood the man who ordered all of these horrible things. His name was Adolf Hitler. We had the opportunity to visit his "vacation house," The Eagle's Nest, which is about a two hour bus ride from Munich. This house was commissioned by leaders of the Nazi party to be built as a gift for Hitler for his fiftieth birthday. He got to enjoy these views, this incredible architecture (especially considering its time), and make decisions that would cost millions of lives, all while standing in this house. The fireplace pictured was a gift to Hitler from Benito Mussolini. This trip was eerie as well because one of the most evil men in history stood in this house and gave orders that cost thousands if not millions of lives. Though I have no respect for the man who came here, the house itself was beautiful in structure, and we very much appreciated the vast beauty of The Alps. I enjoyed the views as well as learning about how it was built. Definitely look into the building process if you get a chance- they still use the original motors for the elevator, the same winding road equipped with five tunnels, and the house is still in great shape. The house itself was way ahead of its time in regards to architecture and engineering.
Travel Tip for either first timers or people who thought that adapter and converter meant the same thing: Make sure that your hair straightener (or curler or both) are the correct voltage for European plugs. I thought that an adapter would make it fine, but that is not the case. You need a converter (as every travel guide will tell you but I naturally overlooked). Thus, I single-handedly killed all of the outlets in our room, and we had to make the embarrassing trek to the hostel lobby to explain to them that we (I) plugged in the wrong straightener. Total Abby Move.