Tag acht: Reflecting on Dachau

May 12th

After getting to slightly sleep in today, we left for Dachau, the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany. On the way the weather turned worse, but it seemed to set the appropriate mood for the tour. We had a nice tour guide who was very transparent about everything that happened at the camp. I guess I didn’t always realize that the first people locked up were just political enemies, and that there was a time during which you could be released. I also didn’t understand the sheer number of concentration camps across Germany and the areas the Nazi regime occupied. I think the museum did a good job of discussing and informing people about the shameful atrocity, but this kind of treatment with history is a bit different than the way shameful history is dealt with in the US.

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The chilling sign at the entrance to the concentration camp at Dachau.

I’m from Richmond, VA, the former capital of the confederacy, and as long as I can remember, the issue of keeping up monuments to the war leaders of the losers, the ones fighting on the wrong side of history, has been a public debate. Whether to memorialize historical figures regardless of their stance on slavery was often a topic we discussed in my history classes, especially because we have a street called Monument Avenue with statues of various confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and Jefferson Davis. I personally believe that these statues should at least be removed from Monument Avenue, and anywhere else, and moved to museums where they can be given context in terms of what the leaders they are depicting did. I remember learning about the lost cause in high school, and how the movement essentially worked to rewrite history, and justify the veneration of the losers of the war. I can’t even begin to imagine what the response would be to a lost cause type movement in Germany, or if they chose to keep up statues of Adolph Hitler.

I was very impressed with how knowledgeable the tour guide was, and the tour was especially sobering when she compared the early days of scapegoating the Jewish population for the economic downturn in Germany to the racism and xenophobia in the US without saying the president’s name. We have to stand up and say something, do more than just voting, to protect those who don’t have power from persecution, and cannot allow inhumane treatment of people who have only come to the US for a better life.

After the short bus ride, with good sandwiches, it was nice to decompress and discuss what we saw and heard with Dr. Feick and Arielle. Afterwards Ryan, Jess, and I tried to find a café to work on our blogs in. We wandered to the Rathausplatz, and tried three cafés but none had enough seating for the three of us to sit together inside. We finally found a café with enough room, but it wasn’t until after we ordered our coffee that we realized we forget to check if there was wifi. There wasn’t.

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The coffee and gelato shop without wifi.

We finished our drinks and just went to Starbucks, where we grinded through some blog posts. Then we met up with a bigger group of students to get döner for dinner, and we went back to the place we’ve been before. As we went in we ran into three guys from our group who had just finished eating there, oops. The waiter was just as nice as he was before, asking about what we’re here for, and he gave us free tea and lollipops too. I’m definitely going to miss the döner sandwiches when we leave.

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Another delicious döner sandwich.

We showed the rest of the group where they could get gelato, at the café we went to before, then the three of us went back to Starbucks for more blog writing. Starbucks ended up closing much earlier than a Starbucks would in the US, but most places seem to close much earlier than ones at home.

Back at the hotel I worked on blog posts a little longer, and prepared questions for my company tour at SGL tomorrow.

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The sun setting on a building on the walk back to the hotel.

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Design of the day: Döner sandwich paper.

Today’s design of the day is the bag our döner sandwiches come in. I like the red on the white, the subtle outline of the font, and the classic chef outfit worn by the man in the drawing. The simplicity but recognizability of the döner kabab makes it an instant classic design.

 

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