Munich

September 28

See pictures below the day's summary



We got up this morning at 6:15 and had breakfast downstairs at the hotel. I had my standard breakfast here - a little sandwich and some yogurt.

Our Hitler-Third Reich tour was at 10:15am, but we wanted to get down there earlier so we could finish up our shopping. Our second tour of the day was at 1:15pm and we were going to go to the Dachau (DAH-cow) Concentration Camp Memorial. We thought we'd have an hour in-between tours, but we were wrong about that! We had about 10 minutes between them, so no lunch for us today!

The company was called Munich Walk Tours. We met at Marienplatz for the Hitler Tour.

Oh, before the tour, a little bit about the shopping. We walked quite a ways around trying to find the souvenir store where Munich Walk tours customers were getting a 10% discount. It was hard to find though - even though we had a map! Then it turns out that their stuff wasn't that good - or at least not stuff that we liked - so we were bummed it took so much time to find.

We finally went back to the one stein & souvenir store that we went to yesterday before Oktoberfest - we liked the stuff there and they had the 200 year Oktoberfest stein that I needed to get for Kelly. Unfortunately, the Oktoberfest steins with the pewter lids were completely sold out (everywhere!), so I had to get Kelly one without the lid. Dad found a nice cuckoo clock there and a really nice stein that showed the 200-year Oktoberfest dates (1810 - 2010) and had the horse-drawn beer carts and the word Oktoberfest on it. There were 2 styles - shiny & matte, but we liked the matte one best. It was a limited edition of only 200 made, and I think Dad's was number 120.

The weather was freezing cold and rain was threatening. It was probably in the mid to upper 30's (Fahrenheit), but cold & damp and it went right through you! We were freezing when our Hitler tour started at 10:15am.

As we were waiting under the Glockenspiel for our tour, we looked over at another tour gathering and guess who we saw?? Sharman! We said a quick "hello" and then her tour was starting. It was amazing that we met up twice in a foreign city!

Our Hitler tour was very interesting. It was about Hitler's rise to power. Once he was in power, he was no longer in Munich, so we concentrated on his beginnings. We saw several places where he gave speeches (including the Hofbrau House that's in a real building - and not at the tent at Oktoberfest!). We saw where the SS headquarters were and where Hitler was arrested at one point for high treason.

We saw several memorials to the people who died under the Nazi regime, but they were all relatively hidden - like we would have missed them had our guide not pointed them out. He said that the Germans have been slow to come around about their past and while they want to memorialize the victims, they don't want to draw much attention to it.

Two of the memorials were plaques and one was a tall structure with a gated flame above it. Neat, but very low-key. The grass around it was long, there was no path for you to walk up to it, no benches for you to stop at, no big sign telling you what it was. Interesting, but I'm glad our guide pointed them out.

We were so cold on the Hitler tour (or at least I was!!) that we were debating not going on the Dachau tour. It wasn't raining (other than a few drops every now & then), but boy, was it cold! I was wishing that I had my Oberammergau hat & gloves!

Our Hitler tour ended several blocks from Marienplatz and we had to walk back there for our Dachau tour. That's why we ended up with no time for lunch between the tours. We hoofed it back to Marienplatz though, because we had decided to go ahead with the Dachau tour. We had to walk back a little slower because we had done a lot of walking on the cobblestone streets and Dad's back/leg was hurting. I can relate to that! But thankfully I was doing okay.

Dad was able to get us each a hot chocolate when we got back to Marienplatz - but barely! We almost left without him! The hot chocolate was sure welcome though - I was so cold! I didn't even care (much) about a high blood sugar!

We had to take a 25 minute train ride and then a 10 minute bus ride to get to the Dachau Memorial. It was then that we realized what a long day this was going to be! It was a 2½ hour tour, but apparently that didn't include the transportation time. It hadn't said that on the website when I booked it. I probably wouldn't have tried to do both tours on the same day if I had realized that. We would have skipped one of them. But - too late now! At least we got to sit down on the train ride. We had to stand on the bus, but it wasn't too long.

Dachau was "neat" - if you can describe something so horrific as neat. It was a well-done memorial. Most of the buildings had been knocked down (all of the barracks), but I think 2 or 3 remained. One of the crematories was one that remained. Very creepy - the opening was about the size of a body laying down and the "oven" itself was brick. I think there were 2 openings.

We saw the rebuilt barracks that showed how the living conditions were. The barracks were divided into 4 or 5 sections and each barrack was designed to hold 208 people (54 people per section). The bunks were in long lines - with 3 levels of bunks! The early models had dividers between the beds, but the later models had removed the dividers to allow more people to sleep in the beds. The ladders up to the second and third levels were also removed in the later models - if you were too weak to climb up into bed without a ladder, then you slept on the bottom. One of the signs we saw toward the end showed the number of people in each barrack - and the numbers were over a thousand!! Remember that each barrack was designed to hold 208 people - so imagine 1300+ people in one of them. Hard to imagine.

We saw a 22-minute film about Dachau. It really showed the depravity of man and just how far some people can go. Disturbing. The conditions were appalling.

Another thing we learned that I didn't realize before - We call them all "concentration camps", but there were "concentration camps" and "extermination camps". Dachau was a concentration camp - people went there to work (basically to death). Auschwitz was an extermination camp - people went there to die.

A big memorial up in the front was sculpted by a survivor. It shows the bodies of the people who just ran and tried to get over the barbed wire - basically committing suicide because they knew they'd be shot, but dying was a better option than being in Dachau. It really makes you wonder if you would have had the strength to get through something like this.

We took the bus and train back to Marienplatz, then took the train back to our hotel. We had left our luggage there for the day. We had them call a taxi so we could get to our next hotel - the Mercure Airport Hotel. We thought it would be about 50€ to get to the hotel, since it was (supposedly) near the airport. Yeah, right! It was actually in another town - not even still in Munich! It was about 12km (7.5 miles) past the airport (or that's what our taxi drive told us). It ended up costing us 85€, so about $120USD. And the shuttle to the airport tomorrow is 10€ per person. What a ripoff for an "airport hotel" to charge a fee to get you to the airport. Overall the hotel was nice though.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant - a very late dinner since the Dachau tour lasted so long! Mine was not very good, but there weren't many options and most of them had mushrooms. So, I got ox cheek with red cabbage and finger dumplings. Oh, my gosh, stay away from the ox cheek! It is a really fatty meat and the fat is super thick and super sticky. I could only manage to eat one piece and then couldn't eat anymore. Dad traded me for one of his pieces of veal, but he said it wasn't very good either. We finished off our dinner with a yummy piece of apple strudel though!   

The room was very nice too - although they first put us in a room that only had one bed. I was tired from our tours and still kind of cold, so I was a bit cranky. I mean, there were two blankets/duvets on the bed, so we'd each have our own of those, but still. So I went back to reception and asked the guy if there was a room with 2 beds because that's what we were supposed to have (I showed him our voucher). He was extremely apologetic and said that he wondered why we had a "family room" so he changed it to a single. I laughed and said that I was traveling with my dad so I didn't need to sleep in the same bed as him.      The guy was extremely apologetic and embarrassed but got our room switched. I'm sure he just thought we were married because we have the same last name. But still, look at our booking - we asked for single beds for a reason!

We went to bed about 10:30pm, I think. Still full from dinner, but it was a long day with a lot of walking & standing. I had a little excitement about 12:30am though - I woke up from a very real dream! We were still on our Luther tour and we had gone into some cave or something. Dad & I were sitting up on a ledge inside the cliff. Everyone was on different ledges and we were all taking pictures of something. It was very dark in this cave, but the flash of the cameras was keeping it light enough. Our guide, Karin, told us that it was time to leave, so people started packing things up. We had set down our backpacks, my purse, and a couple of blankets. Dad was still trying to finish up the picture taking. So I'm grabbing up my stuff. It's pitch black now since no one was taking any more pictures (except Dad, but he must have been taking them without the flash). I can only find the blanket, not my purse or backpack. And Dad's not moving. I hear nothing from him. He's still taking pictures. The next thing I know I'm standing up, out of bed, and yelling "We've got to go. Now. They've all left. We're the only one's here. Hurry up. They've all left." Dad turns the flashlight on and is telling me that no one's left. And I'm saying they all did and we have to catch up with them. He turned on the room light and said "Were in our hotel Where are we supposed to go? It's 12:30. Who left?" Then I woke up and realized that I had been dreaming. I checked my blood sugar just to see what it was. Everything was so weird. It was kind of low (but I don't remember how much), so the low blood sugar in combination with a vivid dream just made it too weird.

I slept the rest of the night (and hopefully Dad did too!). We are flying to Rome tomorrow! Yeah!



Photos


 
Close-up of the Glockenspiel characters in Munich This is the building next to the Glockenspiel - notice that even in the big cities, they still have beautiful flowers out front! Angie - I don't know if you can tell by looking, but it was REALLY cold this morning!
   
There is a "courtyard" behind the Glockenspiel (and the bathrooms!). This is one of the buildings in the courtyard. Another of the courtyard buildings One of the few World War II memorials in Germany. The guy is our guide for the Hitler-Third Reich tour, but I don't remember his name. He was really knowledgable though, a great guide.
   
Our tour was about Hitler's rise to power. This is one of the places he gave speeches in the beginning - at the Hofbrau House. This is upstairs in the Hofbrau House - where Hitler gave his speeches A neat shot of one of the chandeliers
   
This is the entrance to the room we just saw where Hitler gave his speeches This was also a building where Hitler did something, but I don't remember what We are standing in a courtyard where Luther gave some other speeches, looking at one of the entrances/exits
   
Hitler gave a speech here too. It was captured on film, so you can see these lions in the film. This is another Memorial to those who lost their lives to the Nazi's in WWII. The white bricks represent the path that people would take around this building so they didn't have to "Hiel Hitler" at the front of the building. Another view of the lions
   
Some beautiful flowers that we saw on our walking tour This is the biggest memorial to those who lost their lives to the Nazis in WWII, but it is still relatively unmarked. Our guide said that while the Germans do now acknowledge what happened, they don't want to draw a lot of attention to it, so that's why the memorials are so subtle and unmarked. A closer picture of the memorial. There is an eternal flame in the top grid part, but you can't see it very well in the pictures.
   
Another of the Memorials. This one is on the corner of a building, set above eye level - we surely would have missed it if our guide had not pointed it out to us! This next building is a school for music & theater today. But in Hitler's time, he gave a speech here. The music school - the poles coming off the roof held the Nazi flag (I think! I know they were something related to Hitler!)
   
Looking a little closer at the poles coming off the roof If I remember right, this building was the SS headquarters or something like that We've left Munich and gone on our Dauchau tour. This is our tour guide, but I didn't write his name down either.
   
We've walked through the garden area at Dauchau, but this is the main entrance into the camp. The famous (or infamous??) door into Dauchau - the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei means "Work makes you free". I think this phrase was on the entrance to all of the concentration camps. The original buildings had all been torn down so this was just a big empty field, but you can see the size in this picture.
   
Map of Dachau - all of the vertical blocks are the original barracks that are no longer standing. One of the watchtowers along the fence. If you were caught trying to cross it, you were immediately shot and killed. Some prisoners committed suicide this way, because they thought dying was better than being alive in Dauchau. Picture of the Maintenance Building - it is still standing today - we'll see pictures later.
   
Description of the Maintenance Building This is the Maintenance Building Locations of the Nazi camps
   
Description of what happened to the prisoners when they arrived at Dachau This is an original desk that was used during the prisoner check-in process Picture of prisoners coming in to Dachau - notice the attitudes - some cocky (like "You have no right to do this to me"), some unsure (like "What's going on?"), some just observing what's going on.
   
A picture of the men after they've been at Dachau a while - notice that they all have the same expression now Prisoners wore these colored patches so the guards could identify certain characteristics - Jew, Jehovah's Witness, homosexual, habitual criminal, etc. This was a "whipping table" - used to punish the prisoners
   
The whip is in the center of the table You can see these at the top of each of the arches - the prisoners were hung here after whipping These frames in the ground are where the original barracks used to stand
   
You can see how long the barracks were Watchtower on the left and you can see the original barrack frames on the right A sort of canal along the fence line
   
Crematorium Memorial - it says "Think about how we died here" One of the crematorium ovens These are bins into the gas chamber. Pellets were dropped in these bins and the gas from the pellets filled the room, killing everyone inside.
   
Entrance to the "shower room" (gas chamber) More of the ovens in the crematorium A close-up view of the ovens. They give me the creeps.
   
Memorial to the Unknown Prisoner - it says "To Honor The Dead and Warn The Living". Notice how he looks like the men in the picture a few rows up. Our group takes a little break to wait for everyone to catch up. Our guide is the guy on the left in the brown leather jacket. Some of the bunk beds in the barrack model - these are spaced pretty roomy compared to some we'll see later
   
These are lockers and a table in the same room as the bunk beds Bathroom sinks This is a sign showing the number of prisoners in this barrack. Remember that each barrack was designed to hold 208 people - the numbers on these signs range from 800+ to 1300+!
   
Toilets in the bathroom - there was no privacy at Dachau More bunk beds - note that there are no longer any dividers between the beds - this enabled more men to sleep there A panoramic shot of the entire maintenance building
   
Heading toward the Memorial in front of the Maintenance Building The Memorial was built by a Survivor of Dachau - it represents those people who committed suicide on the fenceline Another Memorial - remember the colored patches that the prisoners wore?
   
  This was our hotel in Munich