Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Uhingen Round Two

Thursday

I went to work Thursday like a usual day, I walked to work and did my usual tasks but then I said bye to everyone and took the bus to train station, I hopped on a train to Warburg (Westf) changed to a train to Kassel-Wilhelmschoehe and then a train to Stuttgart but the train was it was 25 minutes late due to a "broken signal" so I missed the next train to Uhingen. I waited 40 minutes or so and took the next train from Stuttgart to Plochingen to Uhingen where I would meet Tanja at the station. I called to let them know my plan and finally arrived in Uhingen 40 minutes later and got a big hug from Tanja who then drove us home where I also got a warm welcome from Johanna and Joerg. I stayed up talking to Joerg and Tanja until about 10 PM or so and made plans for the morning where I would visit Dachau then I went to bed.

Friday

I woke up before 6 AM like usual but I forced myself to stay in bed and finally got up at about 7 AM. I went to the kitchen and made a coffee and sat at the table to eat some breakfast with Joerg. Joerg left for work and I stayed to eat something and relax a bit. I talked with Tanja and finally saw Philip for the first time and Tanja took me to the train station. I got on a train to Goeppingen then switched to a train to Munich.

It's interesting to be in this area during Oktoberfest because everyone was dressed in their lederhosen and dirndl's ready for the party even at 10 AM and they were even drinking already. I changed the train in Munich and got on a train to Dachau Bahnhof.

I left the station and began following the map I printed off to follow the walking path of the prisoners from the train station to the concentration camp. They call it the KZ-Gedenkst├Ątte Dachau and saying concentration camp is frowned upon. It's as if they don't want to think about the horrible things that happened during that time and by not using the name it's like it didn't happen.

After about 45 minutes of walking, I arrived already set for the depressing site. I paid 2,50 Euros for an audio guide and wandered the camp, while it was quite interesting it was also quite depressing.

The gate to enter the camp says "Arbeit Macht Frei" meaning works sets you free. Just think about that for a minute.

“Arbeit Macht Frei” translates into English as “Work makes (one) free.”  These words have become the slogan of the Holocaust, as people the world over now interpret these words to mean that the Nazis  cruelly taunted the Jews when they entered Auschwitz  because there was no freedom for them, no matter how hard they worked.  The only way out was “through the chimney.”

In the words of Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization:
“The fact is that the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign has become the defining symbol of the Holocaust because everyone knew that this was not a place where work makes you free, but it was the place where millions of men, women, and children were brought for one purpose only — to be murdered.”

When I first walked through the gate I hopped in with an English tour group and the guide was talking about the waist deep snow that fell in Dachau during the winter and the fact that the prisoners were not allowed pockets. During their breaks prisoners had to stay outside and weren't allowed in he "warmth" of the buildings.

I ended my tour with the crematorium and gas chamber. Though this gas chamber was never used for mass killings it was used for "experiments" on single prisoners. I mean, how do you handle a trip like this?


Probably the worst part of the whole trip was learning the fact that the camp was built to house 3,000 prisoners and when it was liberated by American troops there was over 30,000 prisoners. I mean, think of the living conditions there. Not to mention the lack of food but just the over crowding. As you can tell, this whole trip was quite depressing but I think it's an experience that you need to have in your life. It's something that cannot be forgotten.


I finished up around three and took the bus to the train station then took the train back to Uhingen, Tanja picked me up from the station (I called to tell her I'd be back about an hour before), we went home and ate and just talked for a bit, Joerg came home for a bit but had to go back out so Tania and I watched TV, went to pick up Johanna and her friend in Goeppingen from her dance class, came home and watched more TV with Tanja, Joerg came home and we had a beer together while talking politics, then it was my bed time.

Saturday

I got up around 7:30 AM and did my thing online like checking my emails even though I didn't really respond to any. When I was finished, I got up and got ready for my day, had breakfast with Joerg and Tanja then we drove to Olchen then took the S-Bahn to Munich.

Oktoberfest was packed and without a reservation we couldn't go in a tent. But even with a reservation you have to drink two beers (1 L each) and eat a whole roasted chicken each. And when you're done drinking or eating it's not possible to just sit and take in the scenery, you have to leave because there were so many people waiting to get in.


I've been to a Hofbrau Haus before with the long rectangular tables and an atmosphere of sharing but this wasn't like that. The tables were circular and it just didn't seem European.

Joerg, Tanja and I walked around and bought a bratwurst and a lebkuchen heart, mine said Oktoberfest and Tanja's said "Ich Liebe Dich" or I love you. It started to rain so we went by train to the car and drove back to the house.

On the autobahn there was an accident involving an LKW (truck) and we were stuck there for a long time and finally an ambulance came by and again we waited, about five minutes later some fire trucks and again five minutes later more fire trucks, and another five minutes later another one. Woah, this may have been a bigger deal than we thought!

We sat in the traffic (though it wasn't traffic so much since we were sitting with our car turned off) for about an hour until we decided to break the law and go off-roading, everyone was doing it, we drove through some corn fields and passed the accident but traffic in both directions was stopped completely.

Finally we got back on the autobahn and were on our way home but it still took about an hour in the car. Tanja had Philip start dinner and when we arrived we had dinner nearly cooked Joerg was out on the grill and cooked the meat and we ate. After dinner we watched some soccer and I went to bed.

Sunday

I woke up and tried to force myself back to sleep finally gave up at 8:30 AM and showered. Joerg and Tanja got up and we had breakfast together. Tanja's parents arrived and we caught up a bit, we went into town, the stores were open on a Sunday even!

We went to the fire station and had lunch and I had maultaschen and a weissen bier for lunch even though I was still full from breakfast. We went into the city further and looked into the shops and went to DM to get hair products and such, went back to a bier garten to get a beer and relax a bit (the 24 hour fundraiser run was almost over.)
 
We walked back up to the house where I helped Tanja make the salad and tomatoes with mozzarella then we ate dinner.

Tanja invited me to to church to their church for a free concert of gospel music and I accepted. It was fun to go with her and listen to the music in German, English, and Spanish even. When the concert was over we went home to watch some TV with the boys and then I went to bed.

Monday

I had breakfast with Tanja and parents then Tanja drove me to the train station and I was off on my next adventure.

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