Munich, Day One

Well. It went something like this.

My roomie and I rose at 3:30 am to catch a bus. I use the term “rose” loosely as we didn’t actually end up going to bed. Between cramming in finishing homework due Monday and hallmates busting in at all ungodly hours, we basically decided to just not go to bed at all.

Skipping a long, complicated and embarrassing story, we make it on the bus at about 5 am and reach London Stansted Airport while the sun was just creeping up and the time fast approaching 6. So, yes, those of you who are good at math have guessed it: London Stantsted Airport is not actually in London. Quite similarly, Munich Airport is not in Munich. It’s an hour outside the city and in order to reach your destination, you must take an hour train into said city.

So we finally reached Munich around 12 pm, Munich time. By the way, Munich in German is spelled Munchen, much like Germany is actually Deutschland. Like what’s up with you, English Language? Where do you come up with these alternative spellings and pronunciations? They don’t even sound remotely like they’re supposed to. But whatever.

Rather than wander hopelessly around a foreign country whose language we do not speak, Roomie and I reached the mutual decision to take a taxi and by some act of God, we found a taxi driver who both knew where we were supposed to be and spoke English. As we got underway, he asked me,

“So where are you from? Ireland?”

Gee whatever gave you that idea?

So we made it to the hostel. Now, I have never stayed in a hostel before this. It was … interesting. Evidently, this was a “unique hostel experience.” No kidding that’s how they described it on the website. A unique experience it was. It looked something like this.

It was a camping hostel. They graciously provided space for those ambitious travelers to set up their own tents as well as as covered area for those travelers who were not so ambitious and literally despised the idea of camping in general and quit Girl Scouts because too many camping trips were involved (no, of course I’m not talking about myself, what are you thinking, readers?). Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. For the most part the beds were actually quite comfortable and the bathrooms relatively clean aside from the fact that they did not provide soap. Shower soap I can understand, it’s a hostel not a hotel. But not even hand soap? Are you serious? Well.

Tired, hungry and feeling like imbeciles for not speaking the language, we finally met up with Fairfield friends and decided to thoroughly depress ourselves with a visit to a concentration camp.

Dachau is only a few minutes outside the city of Munich. This was the very first concentration camp ever opened by the Nazis in 1933. All other subsequent camps were modeled after this one. While not the largest of the camps, it did house over 200,000 prisoners, 25,000 of whom were killed there. In the early days, the majority of the prisoners were political, not Jewish, but as the years went by, more and more Jews were herded in, many of whom were Polish.

Below are a few pictures I took while we were there.

The original train station where the prisoners arrived outside the main gate

When the prisoners entered, they passed under this gate reading "Work Brings Freedom."

The Barracks (reconstructed)

The barrack buildings have since been destroyed and honestly there were so many of them (34) that I couldn’t get a good shot with all the foundations in it. This photo was taken illegally while the camp was still in use by the Nazis; it gives a great view of what the working camp would have looked like.

You can see here the trees planted outside ...

... are the same trees that are still standing today.

The camp was closing by the time I actually got down to where the gas chambers and incinerators were. Part of me was disappointed but the other part thought that was just fine and I didn’t need to be depressed that much.

Several memorials stand all around the site. The south building where the Nazi officers used to keep their camp headquarters is now a museum with a modern statue in before it. To the side is a wall that reads “Never Again” in several different languages. At the north end stand a Protestant Church, a Catholic Chapel and a Jewish Synagogue, representing the unity between faiths and the prisoners of all faiths who perished and suffered at the camp. A convent housing 21 Carmelite nuns also stands just outside the walls. Don’t know the reason for this one, but it’s there.

The Nazi Dachau Camp headquarters turned museum. This was the view the prisoners would have seen from their widows.

Need a drink yet? We sure did. Good thing we were in Muchen for Oktoberfest! Next post on that subject πŸ™‚

Auf Wiedersehen!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Munich, Day One

  1. Agatha82

    Go drink some German beer, that will cheer you up πŸ™‚

  2. Yay for Munich!!!

    Concentration camps are horrible… Well, were horrible, now they’re simply living reminders of what was one of the most disgusting racist and violent regimes in recent history. A visit to one of these (there are so many in Poland…) definitely requires a drink afterward.

  3. aloysa

    Very nice travel review. Waiting for more… especially about Oktoberfest! πŸ™‚

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  5. how are you!This was a really magnificentsuper blog!
    I come from roma, I was luck to approach your website in bing
    Also I obtain a lot in your theme really thanks very much i will come every day

  6. Cities of the Mind

    This is amazing! Gut-wrenching, sobering, frightening, but still worth seeing. And I hear Germany is the place to get drunk, and tis the season, after all. Lucky. Closest I got to Oktoberfest this year was a barn full of large drunk farmhands.

  7. Jillian

    So sad to see those photos. Thanks for sharing.

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