Around the World in 6 Weeks: Munich, Germany

Thanks to my sorority sister, Laura, we got all the info of how to travel to Munich, Germany for the day from Salzburg.  So why wouldn’t we add another country to the list?  Seriously, it was the best purchase of the whole trip.  For the train ticket there and back, INCLUDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN MUNICH, we each paid 15 euros (20 bucks more or less).  It gets better, the more people you buy it with the cheaper it is.  All you do is go to the train station and look for the Bayern ticket and see how many people there you can get on it.  Then you hop on the train and ENJOY!

Now I know most people would go to Munich to actually spend time in Munich…but WHY DO THAT WHEN YOU CAN GO TO THE MOST HISTORICAL PLACE EVER:  Dachau.  WARNING:  Get ready to overwhelmed with historical facts as we journey through the camp together.  You can click HERE to read about my time spent in the Terezin concentration camp in Prague.

The very well known phrase that is at all of the enterances of the concentration camps:  "Work will set you free"

The very well known phrase that is at all of the entrances of the concentration camps: “Work will set you free.”

Now I’m not hating on Dachau, but it hasn’t been preserved like the camp at Terezin.  I had read that Terezin is the only camp that has been preserved as if it was still WWII, so I was prepared that Dachau would be a little different. 

Everything was torn down and destroyed after the war.  What is currently standing has been rebuilt or salvaged.

Everything was torn down and destroyed after the war. What is currently standing has been rebuilt or salvaged.

Some background history:  A few weeks after Hitler had been appointed Reich Chancellor, in 1933, he set up a camp in the town of Dachau for political prisoners.  AKA anyone who did not follow him and the Third Reich.  This camp later became a “school” and model for the later concentration camps where SS men were trained. It was not a death camp, like Auschwitz where prisoners were sent to be killed right away, but a work camp. It was open for 12 years and its estimated that 200,000 prisoners walked through its gates, and about 41,500 were murdered here.

Now you have to give the Nazi’s credit, they were very organized.  Prisoners were divided into categories based on their “crime.”  I put that in quotations because can you really punish someone for being “work shy and asocial?”  Each group received a badge to reflect their crime:  Political prisoners wore a red badge, “professional” criminals wore a green badge, Cri-Po prisoners wore a brown badge, “work-shy and asocial” people wore a black badge, Jehovah’s Witnesses wore a violet badge, homosexuals wore a pink badge, emigrants wore a blue badge, “race polluters”  wore badges with a black outline, second-termers wore a bar matching the color of their badge, “idiots” wore a white armband with the label Blöd (idiot), and Jews wore a yellow badge, combined with another color.

In 1942, the crematorium area was constructed next to the main camp. It included the old crematorium and the new crematorium (Barrack X) with a gas chamber. There is no credible evidence that the gas chamber in Barrack X was used to murder human beings. Instead, prisoners underwent “selection”; those who were judged too sick or weak to continue working were sent to the Hartheim “euthanasia” killing center near Linz, Austria. Several thousand Dachau prisoners were murdered at Hartheim. Further, the SS used the firing range and the gallows in the crematoria area as killing sites for prisoners.

Just like all the other camps, the prisoners of Dachau were liberated on April 29, 1945 when US troops arrived.  After the war, Dachau was used for the Dachau trails where many SS men were arrested and punished for their involvement with the Nazi party.  Now it is a Memorial site (that is free!) for the pubic to walk through and learn about the past events. 

One of the many memorials created by artists in memory of past events.

One of the many memorials created by artists in memory of past events.

The train tracks that brought many prisoners to the camp.

The train tracks that brought many prisoners to the camp.

A prisoners card that would follow them to each camp they entered.

A prisoners card that would follow them to each camp they entered.

This is the maintenance building which has been reconstructed to be a museum.  It has been rebuilt to mirror what it would have looked like back in WWII.  This specific photo shows the prisoner baths.

This is the maintenance building which has been reconstructed to be a museum. It has been rebuilt to mirror what it would have looked like back in WWII. This specific photo shows the prisoner baths.

This is one of the barracks that was rebuilt to show what the conditions were like during different periods of the war.  This specific room show how crowded the bunks were towards the end of the war.

This is one of the barracks that was rebuilt to show what the conditions were like during different periods of the war. This specific room show how crowded the bunks were towards the end of the war.

This is another part of the barracks recreated to show that in the beginning there was a living space for prisoners.  However, as more and more prisoners were brought in, these spaces were quickly filled with more bunks.

This is another part of the barracks recreated to show that in the beginning there was a living space for prisoners. However, as more and more prisoners were brought in, these spaces were quickly filled with more bunks.

The "bathroom" for the prisoners.

The “bathroom” for the prisoners.

The first crematorium that was built at the camp.  Also located near this is the execution grounds where many prisoners were killed.

The first crematorium that was built at the camp. Also located near this is the execution grounds where many prisoners were killed.

A second crematorium was built to keep up with the number of bodies coming in.  Also attached to this building were "cells" and gas chambers.

A second crematorium was built to keep up with the number of bodies coming in. Also attached to this building were “cells” and gas chambers.

Close up of the ovens in the room.

Close up of the ovens in the room.

Next door to the ovens was a gas chamber that was built later in the war.  However, there is no evidence that they were used.

Next door to the ovens was a gas chamber that was built later in the war. However, there is no evidence that they were used.

After taking the self guided tour of the camp (not lying we were there for at least 5 hours), we headed back to Munich to get our first experiences at a REAL GERMAN BEER HOUSE.  So of course we headed to the Hofbrauhaus which is super famous for being REALLY GERMAN.  But first we need to stuff our faces with delicious street pretzels.  On our way to get pretzels we stopped to take a #selfie in front of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel that is on the Town Hall.  It dates back to the 1900’s and is one of the last of it’s kind.  It puts on a little show of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V (who is also the founder of the Hofbrauhaus!) as well as a joust to celebrate the marriage.  On the bottom is the story of Schäfflertanz , the coopers’ dance. According to myth, 1517 was a year of plague in Munich. The coopers are said to have danced through the streets to “bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions.” The coopers remained loyal to the duke, and their dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty to authority through difficult times. By tradition, the dance is performed in Munich every seven years.

Mine had cream cheese and chives in it.  NO WORDS.  BEST DECISION I MADE.

Mine had cream cheese and chives in it. NO WORDS. BEST DECISION I MADE.

We then stumbled upon the Holy Grail of all beerhouses:  The Hofbrauhaus.  Since I haven’t been to Oktoberfest, I thought this place had to be just the same.  Well, things got a little crazy.  We were super lucky and found an open public table.  Let me explain this: There are people, like families or friends, who have private tables that they can only sit at, so there are public tables for others.  The public table is literally that, a table where a whole bunch of people can sit.  So by the end of the night we had a group of people sitting with us…the beers and shots didn’t end.  It got even crazier when the table next to us had part of the band sitting there, so Dani had to learn some traditional German moves, click here too see the lesson.  We had a similar run in while in Vienna, where Clarisse’s cousin, Grace, couldn’t leave the beer hall. We then feasted on some delicious over roasted chicken and drank a wee bit too much beer.

So how did the Hofbrauhaus come into existence?  Well, thanks to Duke Wilhelm V did like the beer brewed in Munich, so he would send out for it.  That got too expensive, so the Duke asked his court to figure out a way they could fix this issue.  The solution:  open their own brewery.  So he did, and it turned out to be super successful.  Luckily for us, the Duke’s son, Maximilian, didn’t really like his dad’s brew, so he decided to make his own. Max was also super smart and decided to make a business out of this and allow local beer houses to purchase his beer so that the common folk could enjoy it.  The business continued to grow and grow until finally in 1897, the current building was built and opened.  And the rest is history! 

I can’t wait to go back to Munich and really explore it!  However, for a quick day trip it was a sufficient amount of time to explore!  Where to next?  Sevilla with my cousin and my old roommate Catherine!

Literally the biggest glass of beer I have ever had.

Prost y’all

 

 

 

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