Day 17: Thursday, September 21, 2006
of Good and Evil
|This was one of the strangest days of our
vacation. After a morning of sadness and anger, we spent an
afternoon and evening of laughter and fun. We visited the
concentration camp at Dachau in the morning and spent the
evening at Oktoberfest in Munich.
had done a lot of research on the computer finding us hotels for our
trip. Because it was in the middle of Oktoberfest, all the
hotels in Munich were ridiculously expensive. She managed to
find the lovely Ampervilla Hotel, in the countryside north of Munich.
We started the day with a huge breakfast that was included in
the price of the room. We had eggs, bacon, pastries,
cereal, yogurt, cheese, meats, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Kathryn in our
lovely hotel room
We set out driving the 20 km to Dachau on country roads that
wound through several small villages. Kathryn was noting
land marks so we could find our way home later. We arrived
in Dachau but could not find the concentration camp - it is not
something that they really advertise. We found the train
station and found an outdoor map in German that we finally
managed to figure out and made our way to the KZ-Dedenkstatte
Concentration Camp. After parking, it was a short walk
to the front gates where you see the famous inscription "Arbreit
Macht Frei" - the great Nazi lie that "Work will set you
free". On March 21 1933, Heinrich Himmler ordered that a
concentration camp be erected at Dachau. This was the beginning of a
terror system in Dachau that cannot be compared with any other state
persecution and penal system. In June 1933, Theodor Eicke
was appointed commandant of the concentration camp. He
Ken at the
gates to Dachau
organizational plan and rules with detailed stipulations, which were
later to become valid for all concentration camps. Also from Eicke
came the division of the concentration camp into two areas, namely
the prisoners' camp surrounded by a variety of security facilities
and guard towers and the so-called camp command area with
administrative buildings and barracks for the SS. Later appointed to
the position of Inspector for all Concentration Camps, Eicke
established the Dachau concentration camp as the model for all other
camps and as the murder school for the SS. Overall, more than
200,000 prisoners from more than 30 states were imprisoned in Dachau.
For more information on the Dachau Camp, see
We spent over four hours touring the museum and the
grounds. There were hundred of displays that gave the history
of the camp with photos and artifacts of some of the people that
died there. Several parts of the camp have been restored to
their original state. This was a very educational experience but it
left us sad and angry that human beings could do this to other human
beings. Some of the images that still stay with me are the
bunkhouses were the prisoners slept, the "shower rooms" and the
actual ovens where the bodies were burned. I took lots of
photos and you can see them in the slide show below.
Panorama of the Parade Square, Dachau Concentration Camp:
prisoners were made to stand for our on the square, sometimes
watching others be punished.
We drove back to the train station to board the
transit train into Munich (Munchen in German). You
could only buy tickets from a machine and we could not understand
which of the several different kinds we should buy. Kathryn
said that if you want to find some one who speaks English, ask a
young person as they all usually take English in school. Sure
enough we asked a young woman and her English was good enough to
show us the right ticket to buy. We took the train into
downtown Munich and wandered around the city centre.
Huge crowds started
to gather in the main square in the late afternoon. The
Munich city hall has a famous clock tower and Glockenspiel.
Every day at 11am, noon and at 5pm the almost life-size figures
of the Glockenspiel re-enact two events of Munich’s history: a
tournament held in 1568 to celebrate a royal marriage and
Schäfflertanz (Cooper’s Dance), which dates back to the 17th
century then celebrating the passing of the plague. After watching the Glockenspiel, we walked around
and found the famous Munich Hofbrauhaus
Waiting for the
where Kenny had a
half-pint of the local beer and a huge pretzel. We then caught
the train to Oktoberfest. I had always pictured
Oktoberfest as a festival that took place in several taverns in
Munich and other cities but it is much, much more. We got off
the train at Theresienwiese and went up the steps and onto the
grounds of die Weisn (as the Germans call Oktoberfest).
You arrive on this
huge carnival grounds (much like the Calgary Stampede only
bigger) filled with rides, souvenir shops and food booths.
On the grounds are 14 huge beer tents (see map at right) that
hold from 4000 to 8000 beer-drinking, loud-singing Germans and
tourists who are pretty much all drunk. The tents are open
from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm and are packed every night. For
those of you who are familiar with the Calgary Stampede, imagine
14 Nashville North tents only 4 or 5 times larger. This
was way larger than anything Ken had pictured in his mind.
As you can see in the slide show
A map of die
photos below, these beer tents hold thousands of people.
There are rows and rows of picnic tables in the middle with a
elevated bandstand on end. There is a fifteen foot wide
aisle that encircles the tables in the middle. The
waitress move on the outside of this aisle as the carry four,
five or six of the huge beer steins. If you do not have a
seat, you can lean on the short waist high walls that are on the
inside of the aisle. If you make a mistake and try
standing on the outside, bouncers very quickly arrive and move
you out of the way.
already after 7:00 pm when we arrived so all the tents were
full. We walked around in a couple so Ken could catch the
atmosphere and then decided it was time for a beer. After buying
a beer from one of the waitresses, we walked around taking
pictures. Kathryn came across four lovely frauleins and
asked if Ken could have his picture taken with them. They
happily obliged. While we were standing in the aisle,
another young couple invited us into the middle to share a table
with their friends and bought Ken another beer when they found
out we were Canadians.
Kenny and his
Ken would have
been happy staying here at lot longer but he was taking several
different drugs and wasn't supposed to be drinking at all - but
who can go to Oktoberfest and not have a beer? We left the
beer tent and wandered back toward the subway station. We
noticed that about one-quarter of the people were dressed in
drindl and lederhosen. We took several photos of the beer
tents and you can see them in the montage below. We walked
back through the crowds to the subway station and caught the
train back to Dachau were we had left our car.
The trip from the hotel to Dachau
involved many turns and secondary roads. It was easy going
there because we could just follow the signs that said Dachau.
Coming home was not as easy and we got lost - again. There
were no signs and the landmarks the Navigator had noted earlier
looked nothing the same at night as it did during the day.
After driving around the Munich countryside we finally stumbled
across a highway we recognized and made our way home.
We went a little north of Fahrenzhausen to a small family
restaurant and had a very good German meal and then back to the
hotel for a good rest.
The following is a montage of some
of the beer tents at Oktoberfest. Click on a thumbnail for
a larger view.
Click here for a slide show of Day 17 photos.