9/17/09, Munich. Visit to Dacau concentration camp and going out in Munich.

Bruce’s feet were hurt pretty bad (blisters on top of blisters) and he was dealing with the cold, so Rob and I went to visit the Dachau concentration camp on our own. He wanted to go, but it would have included a lot of walking.
We took a train and a bus to get there. There was about 30 minutes before our tour started, so I had a sausage in the cafeteria and looked at books in the store.

workwillsetyoufree

Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp

Our tour guide was a very articulate English guy. His descriptions of the history of the concentration camp were riveting and helped to paint a very clear image of the horrors which occurred there.
I learned a lot about the history of how hitler rose to power and how the ss came to power.

The camp was the only one that lasted the entire length of the nazi party rule. It was first used as a place for hitler to imprison all his political opposition. For the first few months, prisoners were fed well. Eventually, more and more people were sent there until the conditions were overcrowded and terrible.

The barracks were very overcrowded, people were punished all the time and would drop dead during the twice daily role calls or the march up to role call. The crematorium was in constant use. The official word is that the gas chamber was never used, but our guide said that circumstantial evidence says it was. Most likely, it was used on a limited basis or for experimentation, since dacau was used as the model for all other concentration camps. Just outside the prison was the ss training camp. All soldiers were trained in cruelty in that camp before moving on. Also, party headquarters were just 3 kilometers away.

The gate which all prisoners passed through had the following phrase formed into it:
“Work will set you free” (although it was actually in german).
The actual activities of the prison were kept hidden from the civilian and world population. At one point, the Red Cross visited to verify that it was actually a camp where people were trained to become good workers. The ss would set up staged events and areas to fool visitors into thinking they were doing good. The Red Cross was impressed with the camp and wrote a letter (I believe it went to himler, the head of the ss and german police) praising the nazi party for their work. The stuff they saw made it into the press and the camp was known as a place where people were rehabilitated back into the work force, when in reality it was a place where people were dying and being punished for their heritage or political choices.

gaschamber

The gas chamber

Several things were really hard to deal with, such as standing inside the gas chamber. The crematoriam/gas chamber (fake shower room)/clothes fumigation room was all one building. It was basically a human liquidation factory. People enter on the left alive and exit right as corpses. On the left, they are told they’re going to take a shower and must undress. Their clothes are thrown into one of several fumigation chambers and they move into the waiting room. They are told they will be taking a shower in the next room. In that room, there were several fake showerheads so they wouldn’t be scared. Once in the room, they’re locked in and poison gas tablets were dropped in. It took about 20 minutes for everyone to die and the ss could watch from a window right outside. The room was cleared of the gas and the corpses were brought to the next room where they were brought one-by-one into the crematorium room to be cremated.
Some people were hung to death directly in front of the ovens.

The following two things made me feel a little better:

F you nazis!

F you nazis!

1: The worship memorials built after the camp was liberated in 1945 by the US Army.
The Jewish memorial is made from volcanic rock that was imported from Israel. It was pretty, but I was unable to go into it due to time constraints.
The Protestant church was particularly amazing for the following reason: The nazis were fanatical about right-angles and cleanliness. They would check the beds to make sure they were perfectly made. If a crease was off more than a millimeter, the prisoner responsible for it or even the entire barraks would be punished. The protestant memorial was all non-right-angle lines as a kind of ‘F YOU’ to the nazis.

Relaxed and strong

Relaxed and strong

2: A statue of a typical jewish prisoner. The statue showed a prisoner with his hands in his pockets, in a relaxed stance and with his head held up high.
The prisoners were required to always be at attention and with their head down. No eye contact could be made. The statue was to show the prisoners as the opposite of this.

This camp is possibly the most intensely sad thing I’ve seen in my life. It creates a well of sadness deeper and darker than anything I can remember whenver I think about what happened there and elsewhere because of the nazi monsters.
And they’re just one group of horrible people who have done bad things. There’s stuff happening in the world right now that is just as horrible.

Rob and I stayed until the place closed, then we caught a full bus back to the train station as the rain started to come down.

We met up with Bruce at the hotel and went out to wander Munich.

Munich at night

Munich at night

We ended up in a part of Munich that was much prettier than the area where we were staying.
In our wandering, we found a mall with a great pasta place. You receive a card when you walk in and then you can visit the various areas of the restaurant ordering whatever and putting it on your card. When finished, you go to the front with your card and pay.  When you order your food, you are ordering with the chef that will cook it. You end up standing there watching it being created.

After dinner, we happened upon the Hofbräuhaus and went in for some large beers. It would have been great to eat there too, but we were very full.

Hofbrauhaus

Hofbrauhaus

I later learned that it’s the location where the german workers party was reconstituted as the national socialist german workers party (aka: the nazi party). It was one of the beer halls used by the nazi party to declare policies and hold functions. That is just a bit intense… I’d had enough of the nazis and their history for the day by that point.

Afterwards, we found a supposedly high fashion store that turns into a club at night. It was called ‘Pool’. We paid too much to get in and drink more beer. It was ok. The people were a little too young for us and too hipsterish. Eventually, we took off to wander the streets.
We knew of a few places that might be more fun to go and started searching for them. We asked one very muscly door guy if he knew where the place we were trying to go was. He answered us in perfect English. We asked where he was from and he said, “Germany”.  His father is from Kansas and his mother is German. Based on his demeanor, we were pretty sure he did some time in the military, probably the Marines.

He told us about a club called Pascha. I’d never heard of it, but Bruce had. It’s apparantly really famous and always in magazines.
We made our way towards the club and didn’t have to pay much to get in. We immediatly got some drinks and found a place outside to relax. Almost right away, we began hanging out with a group of people. One guy was Australian and the rest were German.
I ended up hanging out there for a long time with them. Bruce decided to take off around 02:00. Rob danced for a while, finally taking off around 03:00 or so. I stayed talking with one of the germans until about 04:30. At one point, she went off to talk to someone and I realized how badly I had to pee, but I didn’t want to just take off. I waited for her to come back and then instantly told her I had to use the restroom.
It was possibly the worst I’ve ever had to pee in my life. She gave me directions, but I went the wrong way. I was in so much pain from a full bladder that I actually left my jacket with her with my passport, atm card, hotel card and money in it. I didn’t care though because I couldn’t even think straight. I walked down the wrong steps and found myself at the entrance. I frantically looked around for a place where no one might not see me because I was ready to pee on a wall in front of people if I had to. Hell, I would have peed on a security guard at that point.
I came to my senses and hobbled painfully back up the stairs and down a hallway. Unfortunately, it was the wrong hallway. It was a dead end and people were in it. Once again, I thought maybe I could just pee on this wall here and finish before security comes to get me. I collected myself again and walked into the dance area. I frantically asked the first person I saw, “Where’s the toilet?!!!!”. He pointed across the packed dance floor.
When I saw how far away I was (only about 25 feet, but it was packed), my mind did that thing you sometimes see in a movie where the door seems to get further away. I felt like I was doomed. Still, I had to do what I had to do and moved into the people. I pushed and parted them and made it across in about 15 seconds, but it felt like minutes.
Once at the bathroom, I skipped the line and tried to sneak into a stall, but the janitor/cleaner guy was yelling “NINE!” (“No!”, that is) to me and another guy who was trying to get in. Thankfully, directly on my right, a urinal had opened up and I moved fast. Literally a minute later, I was feeling much better.
I headed back to the spot where I’d been hanging out all night, feeling a new panic rise because I’d left my jacket with all my things in it. I pushed people out of my way and made my way towards the door. First, I went to the wrong door, then I finally figured out how to get outside. I walked back, but my temporary new friend was gone. Thankfully my coat was still there with all the stuff still in the pockets.
I hung out for about 15 more minutes, but finally decided to take off. I didn’t know where to go, but thankfully the hotel address was on my hotel card and I had GPS on my phone.

Once I made it back to the hotel lobby, I realized that I needed some water. I started to walk out to find a place that might still be open. The creepy hotel staff guy (who looked kind of like John Luvitz and had a strange whiney/slithery voice) asked me if I was staying there. The conversation went like this:

Creepy hotel guy: “Are you staying in the hotel?”
Me: “yes, but I need to go get some water”.
Creepy hotel guy: “There is water in the bar in your room”.
Me: “Thanks, but it’s not on my card and I don’t want to charge the water to my friend”.
Creepy hotel guy: “But there is water in the hotel room mini-bar”.
Me: “You don’t understand. The hotel room is on my friends card and the water is very expensive. I don’t want to have the charge end up on his card.”.
Creepy hotel guy: “Sir…..There is water…..in the bar…….in the hotel room”.
Me: “But my friends ca….”
Creepy hotel guy: “Sir! …There is..”
Me: “DANKA” and I walk out while raising my hand at him.

I don’t know what was up. I think having my pee-asco (you know, like fiasco, but with pee) and leaving my jacket unattended put me in the mood to fight.
Whatever…I found water at the hostel across the street and went back to the hotel to sleep. By the time I got to sleep, it was about 06:00 and the sky was lighting up.

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