Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sam Explores Germany & Switzerland Pt 6

Wed Sept 2/09

-An Education-
Woke up at 7:35am…headed out to Sachsenhausen Memorial (Concentration Camp). We decided that it was important to do this trip, even though we’d be very depressed afterwards. I won’t go into details, but I will mention some interesting points…

*At Sachsenhausen, the most feared tower was Tower A, which housed a machine gun that killed many people who tried to escape or break the rules. When the camp was liberated there was a large monument built as a symbol of liberation/victory against Tower A.

*There were 18 Jewish resistance members who made a pact to die fighting and with honour. They made a plan and said goodbye to each other. Then they attacked the S.S. guards of the camp, yelling something along the lines of “shoot us, you bastards”. They had a big fist fight with the S.S. (who were surprised that this was happening) and once the fight ended they were imprisoned temporarily in an area, but were not killed as punishment. It is thought that perhaps the S.S. guards were ashamed at something like this happening, so these resistance fighters were then shipped to Auschwitz to work in labour camps. Some of these men survived the Holocaust at the end of WWII.

*This quote was on the wall of the examination area: “And I know one thing more – that the Europe of the future cannot exist without commemorating all those, regardless of their nationality, who were killed at the time with complete contempt and hate, who were tortured to death, starved, gassed, incinerated and hanged...” –Andrzej Szczypiorski (Prisoner of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, 1995)

There were many other things that I wrote down in my notebook and I only took 4 pictures – one of the gate which said “Arbeit Macht Frei” (translation roughly means: work will set you free), two pictures of the monument of freedom and the quote above. I must admit that there were some places at the Sachsenhausen Memorial, I couldn’t really handle. I have read a lot about the Holocaust and WWII and after travelling and touring Germany, there are no words to convey what an education this is. The people of Germany have really opened their doors for people to educate themselves on what has happened and that is all I will say on this topic. There are countless memorials and each of them has left a big impact on me.

I must also say that sadly some people need more education…people who take pictures behind the bars of the gate like they are prisoners, people who sit on the memorials (and sometimes enjoy a snack/lunch while they sit there), which mark graves filled with ashes despite the fact that rocks are piled on the surfaces to remember and honour those who died. Mind you, most are horrified when the guides or other people tell them what they are sitting on…maybe a more obvious sign that indicated DO NOT SIT HERE might be needed, but there must be a reason why they haven’t done it already. OK, enough with my long-winded thoughts…on to the rest of the day.

We decided that after we left Sachsenhausen, we should enjoy a lighter afternoon. The boat tour we had initially planned to go on, however, we had missed. Our tour at the memorial had taken a few hours longer than we had expected. Nonetheless, we headed back downtown to shop and look around. We were really hungry by then and Margaret and I had curry wurst  We tried to find the area where boat tours could be booked, but we ended walking around in circles …
We gave up that idea and then were trying to find the Tourist Information Office and let me tell you, it took forever. Each of the maps we had, had different information and directions. We were all getting tired and cranky. Finally, we found it!! It was in something like a square and there was a circle of “buddy bears” there. Each of the bears represented a country in the European Union, so we took pictures of them and I took a bit of video too.

We went inside the Tourist Information Office and asked about the boat tours. After talking to the person there, we discovered that there was still time for us to take a boat tour in the evening. So we booked a 1 hour tour and headed to the main station where it began. Unfortunately it wasn’t so obvious where to go, so we went to the TIO there and were given some bad customer service from the lady there. Not only did she decide to have a chat with her co-worker and block the desk with flyers, but when she finally talked to us, she matter-of-factly told us, it is at the other end where the water was. Well when we followed her instructions, she forgot to mention that we had to cross the bridge over to the other side, walk for 5 minutes and then go down the steps to where the boat was. We were a little pissed off at that, but we calmed down once we were on the boat.

-BOAT TOUR…in need of subtitles-
Since none of us were that keen on using audio guides, we ended up enjoying the boat tour in German. We took random pictures of things we did not recognize, but it was quite nice and relaxing. Margaret and I both had a beer as well. We wandered around for a bit before we headed back to the hotel. Margaret was tired and not that hungry, so Pat and I went to the pizzeria and had yummy pizza. I don’t exactly remember what I ate, but it was delicious and had zucchini in it as well. These pizzas could be shared between two people, but since the guy didn’t understand us we ended up with one each…oh well. We finished the night off at the other restaurant again. We had delicious panna cotta!! Then we called it a night…

So that’s the end of this journal. Thanks for reaching the end <3

-Sam ^__^

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