May 28-29, 2007–On Monday morning, we left France in the rear view, and headed to Germany. We arrived in Munich at around 5:30, and after about 2 hours and 9 miles of wandering around the city, we found our hotel. (Hey, it wasn’t entirely our fault! The subways had closed down for the day, and the directions on the internet were horrible! Plus, we aren’t so good with maps sometimes! 🙂 ) Nonetheless, we checked in and realized that we were starving. We asked the gentleman and the desk where we needed to go and eat, and he suggested a restaurant within 5 minutes of the hotel…which really sounded appealing after our “hotel search.” So, we walked in the restaurant, and we knew the guy at the desk had guided us to the right place. It was just what you would expect in a German restaurant…long benches and tables, waitresses and waiters in Bavarian clothing, hundreds of people drinking huge liters of beer, the works…it was cool. Luckily, they threw us some English menus, and we made our selections. Dad got a platter that had a little bit of everything (pork, duck, chicken, etc), and I thought I ordered a pork schnitzel…the key word in that sentence was “THOUGHT!” Apparently, I pointed to the wrong thing on the menu and ordered pork liver instead. I don’t know about you, but pork liver is not on my list of things that I find very appetizing. They brought out this huge plate of liver that looked like it was laying in a pool of blood, and I had to challenge my manhood, but I took a bite. Luckily, Dad was good enough to share some of his “non-liver” with me, and I did not go to bed hungry! So, moral of the story, make sure you know what you are pointing to on the menu, people! Ok, enough about the liver! Truthfully, I am still fighting nightmares about it.
The next day we went outside the city of Munich a little ways and toured Dachau Concentration Camp. Dachau was the first concentration camp set up by the Nazis, and it served as a model for the other concentration camps that were built. Not only that, but Dachau also served as the training base for all of Hitler’s SS henchmen. Words cannot describe how sad touring Dachau made me. How could someone have that much hate in their heart for another human being? Our tour guide was remarkable. He was an American student studying history at the University of Munich, and he had been certified by people that survived Dachau to give tours. He was extremely passionate about Dachau, and he definitely set the mood for the tour. Not only that, it was also pouring down rain and about 50 degrees outside. To be honest, I was glad that it was miserable outside because I think it added to seeing Dachau. Those people suffered humiliation and torture for years; the least I could do was get a little cold and wet. We saw everything…barracks, torture rooms, gas chambers, everything. I have seen pictures and movies about the Holocaust, but none of those do it justice. I just kept thinking about what terrible things had happened where I was standing, and I cannot put my feelings into words. One really neat thing about Dachau is that it is not meant to honor the dead, although there are monuments that do-so on the grounds. Tours are offered there to honor the living. Every single door, gate, cell…anything that was built by the Nazis to contain prisoners, does not work anymore. The doors have been hinged off-center, the locks do not lock…something has been placed by the survivors to prevent Dachau from ever serving an evil purpose again. It was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget and will remember in my prayers for a long, long time.
On a happier note, we went back to the same place for dinner that night, and needless to say, I paid attention to what I ordered this time. The pork schnitzel could not have been any better to me!