Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Other Girl: A Travel Journal Part IlI: Munich, Germany

Again... trying to catch up on The Other Girl "celebration" that some of us feel like we need to works, we suppose, because we need more time to paint today (and to organize some online stuff) we'll just reuse some of her stuff....some of thier we can have time to do other things.

New here? Don't know what to tell you, really. Maybe read some of our other stuff since we've been known to confuse people.

Here's Part III of our big vacation from October 2009 - we look forward to a day when we can write more travel journals from our perspective, with everyone's point of view included, that would be awesome...for us.

We'd love to share more pictures - there were over 3000 of them taken on this particular October vacation, we do love photography...but there is just not enough space and time in each entry for too many of them.

Anyway, have at 'er. Don't like to read about travel? Yesterday we posted a piece on sex, you might want to check that out instead.

...haven't read Part 1 of her/our travel journal? Read it here:
...haven't read Part 2 of her/our travel journal?

Don't know who The Other Girl is? Read about her here:

Want to read more stuff we've written? 
Recommendations - Weeded From Our ... Feeded?

Original blog post date: 11.09.09

Berlin to Munich, Germany: October 5 - 8, 2009
October 14th - Wednesday

We were up early to grabbed breakfast and meet up with our group for the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Tour. [Significant Other] started his day with a couple of pork ribs to go, very tasty if I must say so myself, and a pretzel. I tried to enjoy my turkey schnitzel sandwich, which before 9am was not easy for me to do though it was tasty. What I wouldn’t have done by this point for an egg for breakfast, an accompaniment not easily found in most parts of Germany, I was finding.
Arbeit Macht Frei
(Through Work One Will Be Free)
[Clearly we could comment on the bullshit
of this, and so much more, but this is not 
our entry for pointing our the painful, 
disgustingness of this & so much more]
The tour, which lasted about 4-4.5 hours, covered what is left of the Concentration Camp abandoned munitions factory in Dachau north of Munich which was used to house political prisoners prior to WWII (1933) and during WWII housed Jewish prisoners, political prisoners and other who were imprisoned for being different than others, for example gypsies, homosexuals, people with mental and physical disabilities. The barracks next to the camp which formerly housed SS troops, are now occupied by the Bavarian Bereitschaftspolizei, the Bavarian riot police.
Dachau was used as the prototype for all other WWII Camps. Deeply interesting and heartbreaking to see; not to mention freezing, the tour took place outdoors while the museum, the old “maintenance” building, full of historical data, pictures, belongings and documents from prisoners outlined both the war, it’s root causes and the process prisoners endured when being checked into the camp. This building, also containing the showers used by the entire camp and was the first building they entered where they would be stripped down, shaved from head to toe, classified and sterilized, all while enduring verbal and physical harassment of the personal. Our guide also explained some of the installations from contemporary artists commemorating the memory of the lives lost at Dachau.
Concentration camp barracks
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau, Germany
We went into the barracks, there are two left, the others being torn down by the government due to the cost of upkeep on 34 buildings. Beds of gravel surrounded by old foundations is what’s left of the 32 barracks torn down and the two remaining barracks have been recreated to show both styles of sleeping arrangements used during WWII. The first was a bit more spacious if you could call a space of that size designed to house 180 prisoners, spacious. There were two dorm rooms in each barrack and each had 15 three-tiered bunks for a total of 45 beds and were meant to sleep 90. There was also a room with two large wash basins, approx. 10 flush toilets and a large room with tables and lockers. The second barrack displayed the changes made in 1937 when the barracks were redesigned to fit, very tightly, 5,000 prisoners; in 1938 over 10,000 Jews were brought to the camp and by 1942 there were over 12,000 prisoners living in a space made for 5,000.
Death strip watch tower
The cold weather that day was uncomfortable but despite how cold it was their was little to no complaining as people regarded on the cold conditions the prisoners must have had to cope with while poorly clothed and starving. Prisoners would sleep back to back and in a building with no heat in the winter this is what likely saved many of the starving prisoners from freezing to death; however being an unhealthy and malnourished as the prisoners were, one death in the middle of the night could induce several additional deaths from freezing, once the bed mates body temp cooled through the night
Death strip close-up
On the tour we also were shown the death strip, an area near the guard towers where, if you stepped onto the green, you were immediately shot. Many prisoners chose this route rather than die starving, freezing and abused by SS soldiers

The "showers"
The tour also included the crematorium. The original crematorium that was replaced by a larger building, built to deal with the added deaths, still stands near the newer, larger and more modern facility. The new facility also has added rooms and additional features like a “shower”, the painted words above the door read simply “shower” in German. The shower, not being the type used for bathing, was positioned near the room filled with several ovens used for cremation. Those who would suggest that this building was used for disposing of those already dead would be wise to consider the fact that dead people don’t need a shower. The room adjacent to the oven room was used to hold bodies waiting for the ovens.
Inside the "shower"
The crematorium was the endpoint to the tour before we took a walk through the area now designated to honour fallen prisoners and also the location where they emptied the ashes from the stoves.
The tour, physically cold and emotionally draining ended earlier than expected which gave us time to grab a bite, and apple for me and some sort of pastry filled with a dry white cheese that I did not like; beer(s) for  [Significant Other] and a stop to check our e-mails and Facebook accounts. I made sure for most of the trip to update my status so my parents knew I was still okay.
Later [Significant Other] found out was bad idea drinking all that beer before our tour because our next tour, about a 3 hour walking tour, afforded no planned bathroom breaks and the average beer in Germany is about twice the size of an average North American beer.
Memorial statue in honor of the deceased prisoners of
Dachau Concentration Camp
The next tour that day was titled Hitler and the Third Reich and was about the best history lesson I can remember and better than any class I can recall. The tour started with a brief history on Hitler before he became involved in politics, back when he was an artist and the Jewish population were the only ones buying his art.
Street in Munich, outside of the HB
The tour then moved on to the building, previously a beerhall and now an Apple computer store. This former beerhall is where meetings of the German Workers Party, a group with similar anti-Semitic beliefs, took place and where Hitler got his first taste of leadership while doing undercover for the German Military in local beerhalls. Adolf Hitler became the 55th member of the party in 1919 and within 5 weeks, due to his charismatic methods of speech giving, the membership increased to 2000. The name was changed in 1920 to National Socialist German Workers' Party and was more commonly known as the Nazi Party. Adolf Hitler, the last leased of the party, became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and established the totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. The Third Reich used a set of ideas and propaganda feed through mass media controlled by regime to create hero worship, economic control, regulated freedom of speech and restricted criticism, used mass surveillance and bully/scare tactics know as state terrorism.
HB (Hof Braühaus)
Having grown to such a large number they relocated their meetings to a beer hall nearby, HB (Hof Braühaus), famous for other reasons in Germany, capable of holding large groups, the pub area alone can seat 400. This was our next stop on the tour.
The second level of this massive drinking establishment houses a very large, very impressive room with a two tier stage, ample seating and a decorative ceiling. This room on the second level was where the Nazi Party used to exclusively meet. As I sat in the room I was overwhelmed with the history that the room held and thought “if these wall could talk” … and wished they could.
What was once a swastika on the
mail level beer hall has
now been "artfully" disguised
I have always been interested in WWII, mostly because I cannot wrap my head around the mentality involved in the kind of hatred and intolerance that was not only forced upon people but believed by thousands. How so much has changed and yet so much has not changed. How people still believe that they are superior, causing them to act out in violence. How people still have lists, whether consciously or unconsciously, of qualifications they perceive as having greater moral weight and value or genetic superiority to such as sexual preference, race, religion, the list goes on.
The foot tour took us past the Four Seasons, a building significant because it was once owned by a wealthy man who backed Hitler’s regime with his own money and then exiled to another country when he no longer wanted to back the army, only to be tracked down and imprisoned at Dachau for being a traitor. Another nugget of knowledge shared at this stop was that the company who made the SS uniforms still exists today, we know them as Hugo Boss.
Annex to the Bavarian State Chancellery
Another stop found us at a building that previously housed the royal family and is now the Bavarian State Chancellery, a government building reconstructed after the bombings of WWII that destroyed over 75% of the city. This property was also the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated to the “fallen heroes” of WWI and “those fallen” in WWII. Also existing here is one of at least two memorials dedicated to The White Rose club, an small underground organization that used to produce and distribute anti-Nazi pamphlets and who, once caught by the Nazi, where put on trial, found guilty and executed by guillotine in 1943. A movie about the only female in the group, Sophie Scholl, called Sophie Scholl – The Final Days, was released in 2005 by German filmmakers.
Memorial dedicated to
The White Rose Club
Our tour guide happened to be a German Sculptress so we gathered near The White Rose Memorial, situated between near the Bavarian State Chancellery and The House of Art (formerly the House of German Art), and learned about Hitler’s attempt at cleansing the art world. The House of German Art was the museum Hitler set up to show the public what acceptable German art was to be. He had an intolerance for what he called “degenerate art” which included artists such as Picasso, Dali, Van Gough and several other very famous and well known artists. His intolerance was born from his inability to “understand” the art, his preference leaning towards realistic scenery and nudes.
The art that Hitler disproved of was auctioned off at an auction advertised around the world and despite these funds being used to assist the German war efforts, at the time it was also the event that saved millions of precious pieces of art from being saved from the fires, a fate for art that had not been purchased, and also a fate for books also not approved of. Our tour leader read us a few quotes found in a list citing specific passages that were the cause of specific books being burned. One quote that stood out and I hope to never forget was a 1821 play by Heinrich Heine called “Almansor”. Heine’s play was ultimately about the burning of the Muslim Quran by the Christian Inquisition in Spain but the irony was the burning of the book in 1933 at Berlin’s “Babelplatz” (Babylon Plaza) during the Nazi book burning. The quote? “Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people”.
Where Hitler escaped death
before his imprisonment
The final stops along out tour took us to the location where the Nazi party attempted to overthrow the Bavarian Government and Hitler escaped death, by abandoning his comrade who was shot while linking arms with him, ran off to stay in the mountains, was caught and imprisoned in 1924 where he served only 9 months during which time he began his literary work, Mein Kampf, a book banned in Germany today except for educational reasons.
Nazi Headquarters - Hitler's balcony
from where he delivered his speeches
We finished the tour at Nazi headquarters, now a music school. It is only standing because so much of Munich had been destroyed and the American troops needed it for offices once they got into Munich. Most of the monuments and special facilities built by Hitler and the Nazi’s have been destroyed by the government, not to cover up the history but to prevent them from being places where people might make pilgrimages to for all the wrong reasons. Germany makes up for its “shameful” past, my tour guide says, “they are not proud of”, and wants to prevent such a thing from happening again by educating people on it’s history.
The spot where a swastika 卐 used to hang
above the spot where Hitler used to
deliver his speeches
Our closing story for the tour was that of Hitler suicide by ingesting cyanide pills, along with several loyal followers and Eva, his much younger, long-time companion, which took place on April 30th, 1945 at what is now Postdamer Platz in Berlin, ending 11 years of terror.
The view from where we stood
on the steps
I stood on the steps inside the building, across from what was once the door to Hiters office, where countless double-crossed deals had gone down, where volumes of evil had been plotted and outside where he stood before he stepped out onto his balcony to deliver speeches that bred hatred, intolerance and executed thousands. 
I can’t explain how I felt by the end of the day but I was happy that I had signed up for tour with Radius Tours. [Significant Other] and I headed back to the room to have hot showers and warm up before dinner.
Dinner that night was at a restaurant whose name I cannot recall but the dinner was unforgettable if only because it really brought to light how un-universal food can be. An item called by a familiar name does not necessarily mean it’s what you expect. I ordered meatloaf; a traditional comfort meal I thought would warm me up and make me feel a little more at home. What I got was a washed-out salmon-coloured slice of a ham-textured substance, probably closer to what I remember Spam to being, with a fried egg on top and a huge side of German potato salad. The potato salad was not what I grew up knowing as German potato salad but rather was a runny combination of sauce, potatoes and a lot of onions. I was pretty happy to see that egg though!  [Significant Other] ordered safe with what he knew best, currywurst. You can’t go to wrong ordering currywurst in Germany, never fails to satisfy; pile on a heap of fries and it’s an okay meal by anyone’s standards.
View from the hotel room
Surprised and disappointed by the lack of butter at the table in a country full of cows I asked the front desk attendant, when we returned to our rooms, if I could please buy some butter from the hotel restaurant. He brought me a big bowl of pats of butter, jams and Nutella (very popular here). I was a happy camper for the night and we headed to bed to decide how we would spend the next two days in Munich.
October 15th - Thursday
Thursday we decided to have a low key day and we spent the day walking around, doing some window shopping, and walking, and walking. We ate here and there picking up the odd pastry and coffee to stay warm and just took in the city. We discussed the continued lack of homeless people, the obsession with fizzy water (why was it so hard to find water that was still), what restaurant we were going to try that night and the plans for the next day. For dinner we went to a little restaurant called Gap, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant no doubt catering to local people. Simple dishes were offered here, light on the protein, with a small variety of soups and pasta dishes and some appetizers including nachos. I don’t want to comment on the Nachos but it’s another case of mistaken identity.
October 16th – Friday
Today we were heading to Nurnberg by way of Ingersoldt because I had read of an outlet center there. The adventure just getting to the city was immeasurable as far as exploring goes. I had set out a route to get to Ingersolt but knew full well, from experience, that it might not stick. We took smaller roads, opting for seeing the countryside other than cars whipping past us at unheard of speeds on the autobahn; when I saw a tiny little sign attached to a road sign with a Celtic cross and an arrow and decided to follow it I am sure  [Significant Other]’s stomach dropped; and continues to drop as I followed paths that according to the road signs may or may not have been accessible to vehicular traffic. Following the sign didn’t yelid much excepot for the discovery of a, yet another, beautiful church. We drove around in the German countryside until we could locate ourselves on a map and went in search of castles and ruins that may not have existed because we couldn't find most of them and I imagine it hard, though not difficult, to hide a castle in the lowlands of Germany.
We did come upon one formal castle, that was now a church and the compound had a pictorial history of the castle, laying out how it had once been a castle in 1074, then an orphanage in 1878 and then a church Catholic Church in 1974. That’s what I gathered from the mural anyway.
Eventually we found the outlet center, full of high end stores that did not seem to hold any outlet-esque prices. It was outdoor style and what with the sheets of freezing rain and wind, we did not last long. We braved our way down the autobahn while the wind whipped, cars flew and visibility decreased. We stopped at a truck stop restaurant, our first time trying one out and I had a half a chicken with some potatoes,  [Significant Other] had something breaded and we attacked the green salad, feeling the lack of healthy additions to our meals. We learned quickly that truck stops where not home to cheap eats and got back into the car, where several Km later we decided not to risk driving anymore, turned around somewhere in the country, got a little lost (or as I like to say, took a little adventure) and then headed back to Munich, deciding on the way back that we would skip Lake Constance the following day and get a head start on the Romantic Road, an old trade route with quintessentially German architecture that also passes by many castles and palaces as well as the never completed, 19th century Neuschwanstein Castle, the castle made famous not only by it’s inhabitant Ludwig II of Bavaria but by Walt Disney when he used it for inspiration for the 1955 Sleeping Beauty Castle at both Disneyland Park and Hong Kong Disney World
Travel Photos Taken In Munich, Germany:

Two shots of Victory Gate - Munich, Germany

 Photos of Food/Beverages - Munich, Germany
A REAL fish sandwich 

Various photos of Statues and Fountains of which we cannot remember the names or locations in Munich - Munich, Germany
(We are huge fans of fountains and architecture)

Streets of Munich, Germany
Behind our hotel

  All Photos (c) 2009 Frank et al

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