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This morning we just kind of hung out and took care of a multitude of "things" that needed to be done.
At 11:30, Hewes and Susan joined us as we went to visit Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, We got there just in time for the 12:30 English language tour.
Our tour guide was Dave. He is from the USA. His primary message all the way through was, "I hope you people learn from this and don't let it happen again!"
He told us how Hitler was very smart -- not necessarily intelligent, but smart. He didn't invent anything new, but he learned well from history. Concentration camps were not new. Getting ride of the opposition, political and otherwise, was not new. Using propaganda to control the masses was not new. Genocide was not new. anti-Semitism was not new. "Blitzkrieg" was not new. Cremation was not new. Hitler just took the worst of the worst and put them all together to work for his evil goals.
Dachau was the first of the German concentration camps. It was built in 1933 to house up to 5,000 political opponents, Jews, clergymen and so-called "undesirable elements." By 1937, the camp proved to be too small. It was enlarged by prison labor in 1938.
Camp files show a total of more than 206,000 prisoners were registered between 1933 and 1945. Uncounted thousands more were taken there and simply shot, without being registered.
There were 34 "barracks" buildings. They included housing for: Regular prisoners, clergymen, and "problem" prisoners -- mostly second timers for whom the SS and the Gestapo marked for especially "severe treatments." These barracks each had two washrooms and two lavatories, and they were designed to house 208 prisoners. By the end of the war, they were housing up to 1600 prisoners in each building.
Some of the barracks were used as infirmaries, some as morgues. One was for disinfection of new prisoners. And one was used for physical and chemical experimentation on prisoners.
There were two cremetoriums. The first was a two-burner model. It could not burn up the bodies fast enough so a larger one had to be built. It included a dressing room, a "shower" room where the prisoners were gassed, and a modern, four-burner crematorium room.
There was a "rifle range" area where, over time, 6,000 captured Russians were turned loose for "target practice" for the German soldiers to give them practice and to inure them to killing live targets.
The camp was surrounded by a wall with frequent guard towers. Inside that wall was an electrified fence. Inside that fence was three coils of barbed wire, then a moat, then a strip of grass 8 meters (about 26 1/2 feet) wide. The grass was the "killing strip." If a prisoer stepped onto it, they were subject to being shot without warning by the guards in the towers.
The prisoners were all required to wear identifing hats. A favorite act of the guards in the compound was to take the hat of a prisoner they didn't like and toss it onto the "killing strip," then threaten him with punishment if he didn't get it right back. The prisoner had two choices. Try to grab the hat and scamper back before being shot, or take the punishment -- which was, either have your wrists tied with your arms straight behind you, then be hung from a tree by your tied wrists, or, take 25 lashes from a heavy cane while you're lashed to a wooden table (nobody survived 50 lashes at one time.)
We then went through the small museum that documented all this, then we watched a sickening documentary where much of it was shown on captured film and photos. GHASTLY! Man's inhumanity to man is incredible!
By then it had gotten dark and dreary outside (appropriatly) and had started raining. The four of us drove back to our hostel.
We had dinner and did our laundry with the rest of our time that evening.
When we returned to the hostel, I stopped at the front desk to see if there was any news about our UPS package. Lilly (Lilly and Jim from the US Foriegn Service) was there trying to get a bed. The only ones available were in rooms with five men. I offered her a bed in our room, since the Moulds never showed up and I knew we had tgose two to spare. We agreed that I should check with our roommates first, however.
I ran upstairs to check with Hewes and Susan. When I walked into our room, I found two strange faces there moving their gear around. At the same time, Hewes was scurrying around gathering his stuff up. I found out that the new faces were Bill and Rox, new staff members. Bill was hired as a mechanic and Rox was his partner. She was a "jack of all trades", with no particular specialty. Karen-Ann had assigned them to this room.
Hewes was gathering his stuff and moving himself and Susan into the vacant room next door that some other riders had vacated. Bottom line, there were still two extra beds, so I went bwack and offerred one to Lilly.
Love to all,
|08/19||Germany, Munich to Oberammergau, Germany
Today was our driving day. Joan did not want to ride out of the city so we drove her and Larry about 40 km ahead on the route. They asked to be picked up about 5 p.m., if they hadn't yet made it to camp.
Then we drove back to the city because we heard there was a large, beautiful garden there called the "English Garden." We found the garden. It's about one KM wide and 10 KM long. We parked in a quiet neighborhood next to the park, changed our clothes in the car, and set out for a run along one of the many pedestrian paths.
We jogged along a creek, through the trees, and through meadows. As we jogged past a large lawn area covered with sunbathers, I recalled that one of the tourist notes we read was that Munich is very tolerant and there may be some nudity at the beach or in the parks. That would explain all the white behinds we saw on the green grass.
We jogged around a large lake, with lots of swans and paddle boats, to a hofbrou area. There was a restaurant and an outdoor cafe with lots of food choices and lots of people. A really delightful stop for lunch on an easygoing Sunday.
We jogged back down the other side of the park to the car, then headed out to Oberammergau to get a place to stay for the night.
When we arrived there about 3:30, the town was crammed with tourists and tour busses. We immediately started checking Zimmer's (houses with rooms to rent) for "frie" (available) rooms. No luck. Next we checked into half a dozen hotels. Again no luck.
So why was the town so full of tourists and tour busses?
350 years ago the town of Oberammergau was spared from the Black Plague. In appreciation, they made a covenant with God that they would put on a Passion Play every decade.
So, for 100 straight days this summer, the townspeople produce an all-day dramatization of the story of Christ's crucifixion. It lasts about 9 hours, including a two hour break for lunch. Each presentation has about 5,000 from all corners of the globe in attendance (but mostly from the USA, we're told.)
We even checked with the tourist info folks. They said everything is booked years in advance by travel agencies.
It was nearing 4:30, and J&L were not in camp yet, so we thought we should start looking for them. We found them back at "Bad Kohlgrub," a little town about 15 KM back. It was 5:00, their requested pickup time, so we asked them to come with us to find beds.
We all started checking in that town. Larry found a woman who thought she knew of a place. Lisa went with her to check it out. They had one room, but the owner showed Lisa to several other Zimmers in an attempt to find another. No luck.
A German woman named Kristal overheard of our plight. She said, in her broken English, "Come on. I will help you. I saw a Zimmer up the hill."
Larry, Lisa and I followed her through some of the back roads of town. She stopped at several Zimmers, talked to them in German, but no luck. Finally, one of the owners sent us to a big house across the street. The woman wasn't advertising, but yes, she had rooms for us.
In gratitude, we took Kristal to dinner. We fund out a lot about her. She lived in Stuttgart with her husband. She came to this village every year to take the mineral baths for her skin. We found out that she has been to many, many places in the world -- including South Africa. She loved South Africa.
We spent the rest of the evening talking to her.
Oh, except for one thing. The restaurant and the Zimmer only took cash, so Larry and I had to walk to a money machine (ATM) to get some. Larry had another episode where none of his or Joan's bank cards were accepted. Lisa and I were lucky. Ours worked. I was able to get some extra Shillings out to loan to Larry.
Love to all,
|08/20||Oberamogoue, Germany to Braz, Austria
We bicycled into the Alps today!
We started with a flat that we had to fix. (A patch had come loose.) Fixed that and got on our way.
Beautiful, beautiful scenery. Many more houses with window boxes and porch railings full of flowers. We noticed as we entered Austria that the houses in Austria were much larger -- mostly two story. All very handsome and well kept.
The road was relatively flat to start. Then we got into the steep climbs into the Alps. Long, steep climbs. But, the weather was clear (and hot!) with no rain and no headwind.
At the end of the day, most riders were elated -- including us. It was a fairly easy (despite the hills) scenic, good weather, good riding day.
To top it off, we had a fabulous dinner at camp, with local entertainment. Austrian dancers performed traditional dances. Really fun.
Love to all,
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