Thursday, April 06, 2006

Coming From America

Despite winter's last gasp of snow, i returned from Zürich last night after successfully delivering my parents to their hotel. They were in town for a short visit which turned into quite the whirlwind tour for them. We kicked things off at the Zürich train station where we immediately boarded a train to Munich. Four days in Munich brought castles, cars, cuckoo clocks, a concentration camp and of course some good German Beer. Following a few days in Munich we rode the trains back down to Lichtenstein where they spent 2 more days enjoying all that the Crown Prince has to offer.

Everyone departed last night with a smile on their face which I think means it was a successful trip. Speaking for myself, i had a great time and it was nice to see my parents. We typically cross paths twice a year, in a good year. So the fact that they were willing to fly 6000 miles to come visit for a week was great, although the location may have had something to do with it too. It was also really nice to hear about life in NY and how all of the friends and extended family are doing.

I won't ramble on too much, I'll let the pics do the talking. However I must comment on Dachau. For anyone living underneath a rock, Dachau is one of WWII Nazi Germany's concentration camps, one of the few actually in Germany. Starting out i wasn't really sure what to expect. From history and movies i had a picture in my mind of what i thought it might be like, but my mind is rarely accurate in such matters. Right from the start it felt a bit strange walking to the ticket counter and asking for a ticket to Dachau. You got the feeling that you needed to stress the fact that you wanted a two way ticket.

“Return ticket?”


Upon entering the city you realize that Dachau is more than just a concentration camp site, it is a true blue city. Dachau schools, Dachau Car dealerships, Dachau Churches, the Dachau Shriners.....the last one might be a stretch, but you get the point. I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for these people. No matter how much time passes since this town's gruesome past, it will always be known as a concentration camp first and town second to 99% of the world.

Enter the camp itself and again, it was not at all what i envisioned. It seemed, for lack of a better word, too sanitized. It seemed almost too clean, too new, too much like a prop for a movie set. It's obviously a fine line to walk between reality, history and respect for the victims so i can certainly understand why things are the way they are. But the site itself retains few of the original buildings, nearly all of which are empty of any artifacts. I expected to see offices, desks, uniforms...I think the site loses some of it's impact when you walk in and most of the buildings are empty. The few structures that remain were largely rebuilt or new since the war. As i said, i guess i expected more of a “shot in time”. I hope that doesn't sound morbid or gruesome as i don't intend it this way, but for me some of the potential impact was lost.

That's not to say the site wasn't emotional experience though because the site certainly does leave an impact. The movie shown and the undeniable historical facts will leave anyone shaking their heads. Of all the things to see and take in at this site, the one that made the most impact to me were the words integrated in the gate above the entrance (pics soon). These three words somehow incorporate the mentality of the captors and the brutal reality for the prisoners in one very short but powerful statement. Unfortunately my company has a history with the Nazi's so it also hit home in that regard. Those times are obviously long gone though.

Once again, thanks for the visit M&D! It can get pretty quite over here and it was great to have some family over for a visit. Come back any time!

Pictures do say a thousand words so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. As soon as my ma sends me all her pictures and i load a few up that is.


Aventius said...

"It seemed almost too clean, too new, too much like a prop for a movie set."

That's exactly the same sentiment I had when I visited. I wanted dirt, filth, vomit, blood. I will say that the site that affected me the most was this sign.

Also, my visit had a strange twist. I visited it in teh morning. It was an ugly, overcast day and it sprinkled rain on and off again. We left about noonish to head off to Salzburg and as soon as we left and got on the Autobahn, the sky opened up and the sun came out. It was just so fitting -- as if we had left the evil behind us.

other pictures i have up:
Main Building

Memorial Sign

Traveling Bonbon said...

Corrigan - now you know what I was getting at when I said don't be disappointed when you get there. You had the exact same experience I did in that manor. You expect to see the times of old and what you see is certianly not what you had expected. Regardless, it still leaves a lasting memory.

Aventius - I had the same twist when I visited. It was all misty and rainy when we walked into the camp, but as soon as we left it was like something happened and all of a sudden the sun broke through and was shinning brightly as soon as we left. You put it best with "It was just so fitting -- as if we had left the evil behind us."

Corrigan said...

I feel bad for the people who live there...they'll never get away from the stigma!

Aventius said...

kinda like how i feel bad for people who live in jersey.