We had a wonderful time in Munich. We drank lots of beer saw Bavaria’s version of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, watched the world cup and even slept in a day or two. The history of Bavaria though, it´s close relationship to World War II, was not lost on us.
We took a quick day trip out to the Dacahau concentration camp just on the cusp of the city itself. Accessible via the city’s metro system and a very short ride from downtown, we were transported in time to one of the most feared concentration camps of The Holocaust. This camp was the first camp established by the Nazi party and the only one in use through the entire war. At first the camp was used as a work and incarceration facility for German nationals with dissenting opinions but this soon grew to include all manner of non-Aryan undesirables. The camp also served as the center for many of the Nazi’s infamous medical treatments.
There is a reason though, that the first and most feared campis located so close to Munich. Munich, it seems is, was in every sense Hitler´s old stomping ground. He wasn´t born there and he didn´t grow up there either, but it is where his small and insignificant Nazi party suddenly grew to national prominence. This was called the Beer Hall Putsch when Hitler landed himself in jail during an attempt to seize power. His time in the Bavarian prison system allowed him to gain some serious national attention and after serving a mere 8 months of his 5 year sentence found himself the leader of a now very large movement.
Touring Munich it was interesting to see the site of the Beer Hall Putsch as well as memorials and monuments left to those who stood up to the Nazis as part of the student-led White Rose movement. The large cathedral was one of the few buildings from before the war left standing so that allied pilots could use its towers to orientate themselves to the ground below. Squares and public areas, some used by kings to preach against democracy, some by Hitler to speak similar sentiments, and some used by others to plot assassination attempts. The city was certainly at the center of all the action.