Sunday, April 12, 2009

Last Day in Austria and Germany

As I write this last blog post about our week in Germany and Austria it is Easter Sunday.


Good Friday was our last day on this vacation and it turned out to be a full one. 

Götzen View Yet Again Out of the Johnson's Bathroom Window

Thank goodness I need to go to the bathroom every morning!  This view is like the one off of Malibu's front balcony, I would NEVER tire of it either!

In Götzen, a Memorial to World War II Dead

Götzen's Main Church

As we bid "Guten Tag" to Austria, we started a 90 minute drive back to München to visit two more sights of interest before taking an evening flight back to Catania.

This tranquil spot leads you into our first stop back in Germany...

... The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

Located only a 15 minute drive today from downtown München.

Years of Operation

It was the first of the many horrific Nazi concentration camps.  No matter how much you watch the History Channel or maybe because you do watch the History Channel, this place is still very unsettling 64 years after it was liberated by American forces of the 20th Armored Division and the 42nd Rainbow Division.  At one point I really had to stop and take a deep breath as a wave of emotion really made me wonder about my fellow man.  My life has been so simple and easy. 

This sculpture tries to capture the
agony that people experienced here

During it's gruesome 12 years of existence, 200,000 people were sent to Dachau and an estimated 43,000 died here.

Dachau also served as the training camp for all the people who ran the entire concentration camp system throughout Nazi held territories.

SS Camp Commandant's Headquarters.

200,000 souls passed through this foreboding gate.

In the nearby Jourhaus, they would be registered, classified as to type of prisoner, all of their personal possesions would be taken away and they would be assigned a barrack.

"Work Will Set You Free"

On the gate as you enter Dachau with the Jourhaus in the background.  Dachau was a slave labor camp.

Laurie entering the Roll Call Grounds

Twice a day every prisoner had to assemble here and stand at attention for Roll Call until every prisoner, dead or alive, was accounted for.

Stones on a Grave
A Jewish Ritual of Rememberance

I saw these next to a monument to the "Ashes of the Unknown Concentration Camp Prisoner".  This is where the wave of emotion hit me when I saw these rocks.

A memorial to those who suffered and died at Dachau

Prisoners would wear a piece of cloth on their uniforms to identify what type of prisoner they were.

A Yellow Star of David identified the Jewish prisoners.

Triangles were used to identify other "undesirable" prisoners:

Red for political prisoners

Green for habitual prisoners

Blue for emigrants

Pink for homosexuals

Purple for religious dissidents

Black for "Asocial" prisoners such as the mentally ill, alcoholics, intellectuals, aristocrats, beggars, draft resisters, etc. and finally

Brown for Gypsies.

A better view of the Memorial to the Suffering

Original foundations where
the Barracks once stood

Most people do not know that Dachau was in use longer after the end of World War II than the 12 years the Nazis ran it.  First, after the fences were taken down, it housed Dachau survivors who had no where to go after being liberated.  Later it became a prison once again but this time for convicted camp officials in the Dachau Trials.  Later on it would house refugees from Eastern Europe.  Until the 1960's, the camp was was like a small town with its own shops and entertainment.


This young German lad would not leave this re-created barrack.  He seemed so innocent of the horrors that went on on these grounds.  Today, EVERY student in the German school system is required to go on a class field trip to a concetration camp near where their school is located.  We saw several junior high school aged students with their teachers on our tour.


Laurie, a Guard Tower, the Barracks
Grounds and an Orthodox Church

The Sight of the Notorious Barrack #3

Barrack 3 is where Nazi doctors conducted some of the most hideous experiments of the war.

View from the Jewish Memorial
to a Guard Tower

The view inside the Jewish Memorial

The Killing Field

Stepping onto the grass was taken as a sign of an attempted escape over the wall or fence and meant instantly being shot to death by the SS Guards.

The Crematorium Marker

The Crematorium Building,
the nortorious Barrack X

The Ovens

There were many more of these and they could burn two or three bodies at a time.

The Blood Ditch

Thousands were simply shot here, their blood collecting in the ditch and then their bodies were taken to the Crematorium only a 100 meters away.

Nazi pre-World War II propaganda
to justify their beliefs.

The German Democratic Party

A left wing party, they opposed the Nazis in this 1928 election poster.  They lost.

All in all a very sobering and interesting visit especially if you are interested in history.

From Dachau we figured we had time for one last stop in München before we had to get to the airport.

The Augustiner Beer Garden

It was a beautiful, warm spring afternoon so we decided to lighten up our mood with a trip to this outdoor beer garden that is away from the main tourist beat.

It serves what most Münchners believe is the best beer in the best beer garden in town.  The Augustiner Brewery was founded in 1328 by Augutine monks and is the oldest of München's many local beers.

Marien was our server,
only two of these were ours.

Spring time in Germany in a Beer Garden

We could have spent all six days here and been happy.

Augustiner Beer is VERY good indeed!

Spring time in Germany also means new flowers blooming.

The 1972 Munich Olpmpic Park

If you were alive in 1972 then you know all about the massacre at these games...


We had a GREAT time in both Germany and Austria.  The people were friendly and courteous.  The architecture and the incredible natural scenes will not be forgotten any time soon.  The food was good but how many more days could I have survived on bratwurst, potatoes and beer?  No more than a few years under the best of circumstances I'm sure.

The southern end of Germany, i.e., Bavaria and neighboring Austria are MUST SEES when you visit Europe.  You will love the cleanliness, organization, people and romantic history all about you.

My Top Ten Off-Beat reasons to visit Austria and Germany would include:

1.  Public toilets with both seats AND toilet paper.  The ones at the Munich airport automatically flip up when you stand up in some sort of funny tribute to Andy Griffith's character in the movie "No Time for Sargeants"!

2.  No double parking.

3.  No parking on the sidewalks

4.  No laundry visible on anybody's clothes lines.

5.  Courteous drivers

6.  An actual Garmin alert about snarled traffic ahead.  She doesn't even bother in Catania, the traffic is always snarled . . . you know it, she knows it, EVERYBODY knows it!

7.  A shocking lack of grafitti

8.  Super efficient post offices

9.  The lack of tourists at this time of the year

10.  People who are actually happy to serve, thus making money for their business and who are not afraid to break a 50 Euro note because, again, if they do, they will MAKE MONEY!

Laurie Says:  Words cannot . . . It was truly a wonderful week of spectacular scenery, sites, sounds, foods and friends.  Thank you again, Jason and Christie for being our tour guides.  

We do miss all of you very much on this rainy Easter Sunday (and every day) halfway across the world, and appreciate your communications.   We are now settling in again at Malibu and not traveling again until mid-May.  We hope you enjoyed our 'vacation'. We enjoyed putting the blog together and reliving the last week.


Anonymous said...

Georgio and Laurieo,

Thanks for the wonderful tour. It reminds me of so many memories of when I have been there. I have to admit that I have never visited the concentration camp memorials, because of the horrific stories that my Father told me about as a kid of his experience in World War II when they liberated some of these camps. I still remember seeing pictures that he took of piled up bodies.

The Romantic Road is fantastic. Glad that you had the opportunity to see it and enjoy beautiful weather as well. I wish we had it here in Seattle!

What is your plan for the bye week in May?

Who did you get for a replacement QB?

Best wishes for a blessed Easter!


P. S. Have you seen Cristiano since he has returned? Say hi to him for us.

Koreen said...

I wish I knew you two were going to visit the family beer garden...I would have called ahead and set up something the special for you guys. Sound like you both had a wonderful vacation and can't wait to hear the stories.