Saturday, September 29, 2012

Germany: Day 11

 Stazi Prison. Former GDR.

 Half of the group squished in a tiny cell.
 Torture chamber's
 This would drip a drop of water on a prisoners head every minute for hours and hours, until finally the prisoner would break and admit to whatever charges they were charging him for.
 This would be filled up with about 6 inches of water. There was no chair. They just had to stand and when they could no longer stand, they sat or laid themselves in the water. However, since there was no restroom, they would have to use the restroom in the water, which they had to stay sitting/laying in. So humiliating. Those people had no sense of human dignity.
 Often prisoners were transferred from one prison to another. Even when they were just traveling across the street, they would transport them in this van which had no windows. They would drive them all around the city to make them loose all sense of direction.
 This was a room much like our tour guide was put in. Solitary confinement for months. I can't imagine.
 Our beloved tour guide. He didn't tell us his personal experience until the very end. It certainly was mind blowing.
This is what I wrote in my Germany Journal when we left the prison:

The coolest thing just happened. I was asked to give a portion of my gift to the man who was incarcerated at the Stazi prison. When I stood up, I said I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah (we had to bring gifts to give to tour guides representative of our home town). He cut in and told me he had been there! I laughed (after all, what are the odds?) and said, "Well you know all about this!" I told him that today is Pioneer Day, a big holiday in Utah which celebrates when the Mormon pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley. He interrupted grinning and said, "I am a Mormon!" In reality, I think he meant that he knew a Mormon, but that's not important. He was hosted by a LDS family in Lehi, Utah. I continued on told him that the civil liberties we enjoyed as American's were taken away from the pioneers as his were, though both were very different circumstances. He reached out excitedly to grab the picture of the temple from me. I asked if I could read something off the back. I didn't plan on doing this, but it seemed fitting at the time. I then read a quote on the back of the print of the Salt Lake City Temple by President Hinckley during his Stand a Little Taller talk. My voice cracked. I looked around the room and tears were streaming down everyones faces. It truly was an awesome experience that I will never forget.
Turkish Market
True story: Germans live in houses. Real, normal houses. I took pictures for my students. We're a little ethnocentric. They'll love it.

Checkpoint Charlie! Before I got there, I didn't even know this existed. It's a powerful and welcome sight to see as you walk down the streets of East/West Berlin!
Straddling where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Germany: Day 10

 Our first full day in Berlin was great. I didn't realize how little I knew about the Berlin Wall. On the train ride there, Karin, Elaine, and Diane gave me the quick version (which was longer than I ever learned in any history class. Embarrassing, huh?).
 Ryan, Karen, Lesa, and I went on a little walk when we first arrived and found this bombed out church. The structure partially stood and it stands still as a memorial of the war. Churches of many faiths were major targets during the war.

 These are Holocaust Remembrance Stones. They documented Jewish individuals and were placed outside of where their homes once stood. It included information on where they were taken and where they died. So sad, but a great addition to the city. They truly caused me to remember whenever I walked past one.

 When I was in Germany, anything that screamed "America!" I gravitated to. Turns out, I love our country!

 Holocaust cemetary. It's closed to anyone that is not a family member.
 This building had gun holes still in the walls.

 The gun shell was still stuck in there.
 This is where Kristallnacht began. The synagogue had been reconstructed after the war.
 Classy Karen.

 This is the Brandenburg Gate. I actually didn't know the significance of this gate until the train ride over! Wikipedia explains that, "During the post-war Partition of Germanythe gate was isolated and inaccessible immediately next to the Berlin Wall, and the area around the gate featured most prominently in the media coverage of the opening of the wall in 1989."
That evening we went to a Tapas bar. It wasn't my favorite but I did LOVE this drink. Basically, I got tired of water with gas. It's sick. This was delicious. And pretty.

Germany: Day 9

This was taken from: 
 Established in March 1933, the Dachau concentration camp was the first regular concentration camp established by the National Socialist (Nazi) government. Heinrich Himmler, in his capacity as police president of Munich, officially described the camp as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners." It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the northeastern part of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich in southern Germany.
During the first year, the camp held about 4,800 prisoners. Initially the internees consisted primarily of German Communists, Social Democrats, trade unionists, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime. Over time, other groups were also interned at Dachau, such as Jehovah's WitnessesRoma (Gypsies), homosexuals, as well as "asocials" and repeat criminal offenders. During the early years relatively few Jews were interned in Dachau and then usually because they belonged to one of the above groups or had completed prison sentences after being convicted for violating the Nuremberg Laws of 1935.
In early 1937, the SS, using prisoner labor, initiated construction of a large complex of buildings on the grounds of the original camp. Prisoners were forced to do this work, starting with the destruction of the old munitions factory, under terrible conditions. The construction was officially completed in mid-August 1938 and the camp remained essentially unchanged until 1945. Dachau thus remained in operation for the entire period of the Third Reich.
The number of Jewish prisoners at Dachau rose with the increased persecution of Jews and on November 10-11, 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, more than 10,000 Jewish men were interned there. (Most of men in this group were released after incarceration of a few weeks to a few months, many after proving they had made arrangements to emigrate from Germany.)
The Dachau camp was a training center for SS concentration camp guards, and the camp's organization and routine became the model for all Nazi concentration camps. The camp was divided into two sections--the camp area and the crematoria area. The camp area consisted of 32 barracks, including one for clergy imprisoned for opposing the Nazi regime and one reserved for medical experiments. The camp administration was located in the gatehouse at the main entrance. The camp area had a group of support buildings, containing the kitchen, laundry, showers, and workshops, as well as a prison block (Bunker). The courtyard between the prison and the central kitchen was used for the summary execution of prisoners. An electrified barbed-wire fence, a ditch, and a wall with seven guard towers surrounded the camp.
In 1942, the crematorium area was constructed next to the main camp. It included the old crematorium and the new crematorium (Barrack X) with a gas chamber. There is no credible evidence that the gas chamber in Barrack X was used to murder human beings. Instead, prisoners underwent "selection"; those who were judged too sick or weak to continue working were sent to the Hartheim "euthanasia" killing center near Linz, Austria. Several thousand Dachau prisoners were murdered at Hartheim. Further, the SS used the firing range and the gallows in the crematoria area as killing sites for prisoners.
In Dachau, as in other Nazi camps, German physicians performed medical experiments on prisoners, including high-altitude experiments using a decompression chamber, malaria and tuberculosis experiments, hypothermia experiments, and experiments testing new medications. Prisoners were also forced to test methods of making seawater potable and of halting excessive bleeding. Hundreds of prisoners died or were permanently disabled as a result of these experiments.
Dachau prisoners were used as forced laborers. At first, they were employed in the operation of the camp, in various construction projects, and in small handicraft industries established in the camp. Prisoners built roads, worked in gravel pits, and drained marshes. During the war, forced labor utilizing concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important to German armaments production.

 The German police use this part of the camp today...

 Watch Tower

 Liberated by the US
 The Entrance to the camp

 The barracks (well, most of the camp) was burned down to hid all Nazi evidence after the war. They have reconstructed some buildings. Barracks like this would have filled the open spaces of Dachau.

 This is a memorial to those who gave their lives by running purposefully into the electric fences.

 My dear Karin. I love her.

 Christian memorial
 Jewish synagogue memorial

 Words cannot describe the sadness that I felt as I walked through the somber Dachau camp. The hatred of a few changed the lives of so many. My heart will forever remember the pain of Dachau.

Afterwards, we ventured to downtown Munich for dinner and shopping.
 Don't worry. They have a shrine to MJ on someones statue. I wonder how they feel...
 The Glockenspiel in downtown Munich. PS--it was really cold. I wasn't planning on it being cold in July so my jacket, over a jacket, over a tie-dye dress is not attractive, though it was very necessary.

Hofbrauhaus--largest beirgarten in the US.

Dinner for Chris' birthday!