Beyond the Band of Brothers Tour Day 13

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

Today began with a tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp.  It is located about 12 1/2 miles NW of Munich.  Dachau became the model for other camps that were built.  It is now a memorial site on the grounds of the former concentration camp.  This memorial site was established in 1965.

The original entry gate.

The gate at the main entrance had the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” which translates as “Work Makes You Free”!

Dachau was also the training center for the SS where recruits were indoctrinated into a system that encouraged the torture, humiliation and killing of prisoners.

Dachau was built in 1933 as a concentration camp for political prisoners.  The camp had 32 barracks, one reserved for clergy and one reserved for the medical experiments.  Dachau was designed to hold 6,000 prisoners but by 1944 there were over 30,000 prisoners!  In the 12 years of its existence over 200,000 persons from all over Europe were imprisoned there.  After only imprisoning political prisoners, it then held criminals, homosexuals, gypsies, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  It was later that Jews were added.  At Dachau some prisoners were used as slave labor to manufacture weapons and other items for Germany’s war effort.  Also some prisoners were subjected to brutal medical experiments by the Nazis!  Theodor Eicke ran the camp after Sebastian Nefzger.  When Eicke took over he enforced a rule that any prisoner deemed guilty of rule breaking would be brutally beaten.  And if you tried to escape or shared your political views you were immediately executed!  Eicke’s regulations served as a blueprint for all of the other concentration camps.

We saw the cells, barracks and gas chamber.  Dachau has rebuilt two of the barracks.  The other barracks are indicated by concrete foundations.

The perimeter defense that was in place at Dachau is shown below.  The camp was surrounded by 7 watch towers, an electrified barb-wire fence, a ditch, and a wall.

In 1942, construction began on Barrack X, a crematorium that when finished housed 4 sizable ovens used to incinerate corpses.

Just before the camp was liberated the SS ordered about 7,000 prisoners to embark on a 6 day long death march to Tegernsee, Germany to the south.

This sculpture symbolizes the Death March.

On April 29th, 1945 the American military entered the camp where they found 1,000s of emaciated prisoners.  They also found several dozen train cars filled with rotting corpses.  It was horrific and beyond words.

There are 4 chapels on the Dachau memorial site.  One is the Catholic Church of the Mortal Agony of Christ Chapel which was the first to be built.IMG_6860The second is the Protestant Church of Reconciliation and is set into the ground.IMG_6865The third was the Jewish Memorial.IMG_6863

The fourth and the newest is the Russian Orthodox Chapel.IMG_6896

After the war and the camp had been liberated, it was used from 1945-1948 as a prison for accused war criminals and SS members. Then in 1948 Daschau was used as a refugee camp until the mid-sixties.

Our lunch was in the Dachau Visitor’s Center and when we were finished we took our bus into Munich for our afternoon walking tour of the Third Reich.  Our tour started at the Hofbrahaus.

It is a very famous pub and has been at its current location since 1607.  In 1920 the German Nationalist Party was founded in the Hofbrahaus.  Most famously Hitler delivered his 25-point program.

The room where Hitler gave his speech at the Hofbrahaus.

He threatened to strip the Jews of their civic rights and to set up a dictatorship.  Thirteen years later these plans became a sad reality.

Medieval clock tower in Munich.

Our walking tour continued on with our guide Kurt who also was our guide at Dachau.

Our guide Kurt.

He was covering the history of Munich in relation to the birthplace of Nazism!

Equestrian statue of Maximilian Churfuerst Von Bayern in Wittelsbacherplatz Square.

The square below is dedicated to those that died at the hands of the Nazis.  The eternal flame is in a block-like cage atop four T’s.

Königsplatz square was used for the Nazi party’s mass rallies. Below is the Propyläen, which is the city gate on the west side of the Königsplatz.

Propyläen, Munich’s city gate
A newer museum in Munich that is about the history of Nazism.

There are still signs of Nazism on some buildings.  The eagle is one of them.  We also saw some swastikas in ceiling patterns.

Below, the captions tell you about these photos from our walking tour.

The Feldherrnhalle was commissioned in 1841 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria and was modeled after the loggia in Florence, Italy.  In 1923 it was the site of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch which was a very brief battle.  When the Nazi’s were in power in Munich it was also a monument commemorating 16 Nazi party members that died because of this battle.

Just remember beer drinkers, Munich is the beer city of the world! We had dinner at the Weisses Brauhaus in the heart of Munich. Many of our group enjoyed trying the different beers!

A few more photos from our time in Munich!

It was another day of different emotions.  Spending the morning at Dachau and then the afternoon seeing Hitler’s haunts and the power the Nazi party held in Munich was entirely different set of emotions.

We returned to our hotel and several of us discussed the day and our experiences.

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