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München - Part II


  11:02:33 am, by Nimble   , 789 words  
Categories: Journal

München - Part II

Two tours of foot-pounding duty have we accomplished so far. Two days ago, we went on the Dachau tour. Our tour guide was excellent, if a little far to the side of making sure we fully-imagined every conceivable horror as we went along (I wish I knew where he was from; sounded sort of Irish and said "gyawrds" for "guards"). He did a great job of filling in all the details as we went along. It still leaves unanswered in a larger context - how could this happen in a civilized society? The little pieces we heard from Günther in Salzburg piqued our interest. The Dachau tour was simply... mind-blowing.

Dachau may not have been the center of most of the atrocities, but it was the model on which all the other concentration camps were based. Note to everyone: if opposition party members in your country start being arrested, under any pretext whatsoever, PANIC. Dachau was first used against Germans: conscientious objectors, political opponents, popular religious figures that were against the regime. There was a possibility at that point in time of actually getting out, but that time window quickly evaporated as the Third Reich, having accomplished a one-party system, started looking for other targets. We know a little bit about prison guard sadism these days, but the extent of institutionalized, state-supported sadism is truly beyond comprehension.

At the start of Dachau, it was one person to a bed, and there were partitions. As more and more people were brought in from conquered territory, however, conditions deteriorated, and the rooms ended up having three levels of just a solid square, where prisoners laid on their side to make room. Horrible conditions, although some surivors attribute their survival to this crowding, as there was no heating in the winter.

Dachau and its auxiliary camps were "work camps" (other horrors like Auschwitz were actually only for extermination) - work to death, mind you. It was only once they realized they were losing production capacity during the war that conditions temporarily improved. Without such slave labour, the war would have been unlikely to last the six years it did.

There were a few sparse bright lights. Some of the prisoners who cooperated with the SS snuck in food to other prisoners. It is also still bizarre to think that food packages from relatives were allowed in, to keep the prisoners´ strength up, though they had to eat it all within a set period. When the allies were pushing through near the end, some local resistance groups and the prisoners managed to make sure that the Nazis did not manage to burn or blow up the compound or mass-kill the prisoners.

Well, after such light entertainment, it was nice to go see the BUGA, the national flower show, the next day. That... was an excellent site to visit.

I don´t know what the site was used for previously, but it´s an absolute sprawl. The flowers themselves are mostly concentrated into various areas... beds, in arrangements in one of the show tents (the best place to go if you want to find out what plants are what), in the "parallel gardens" (all in criss-crossed rows)

There are also some interesting and unusual displays. There were some solar-powered rotating heads. There were the extremely interesting "Cell Gardens", which were little areas surrounded by a mounded-up circle of various themes, like a giant representation of a bird´s nest or mole hill, or a small grassy area with soccer figures on springs that kids can use to kick the balls around (they have divots around the figures so the balls come towards them), or an actual "cell", where one planter represented mitochondria, etc. etc.

One of the odder displays was a grave site display, which was various artists (I´m presupposing) made memorial stones and plantings for various people who had recently passed away. Some of these displays were utterly astounding. I will share some of the pictures, because I really can´t describe it properly in words.

There was also a small lake with birds and some opportunities for wading, statues made from weird materials that looked like they were made by children, sunken gardens and paths that were made out of a springy rubber...

If you lived in or near München, you would HAVE to take your children. This whole thing was really wonderful for both kids and adults in a way few other things I´ve seen have been.

So here we are, taking it easy on our last morning before we´re off to Zürich, our last stop! Luggage is getting heavy, though - either we´ll come back with strong arms... or detached arms. See you all relatively soon!

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