Written by Wildcat Dianne on 17 Jun, 2011
I only spent three days in Bavaria and I now regret not spending more time here with my friend Helga and her family. The people in Bavaria are very nice and the architecture and sights are out of this world. I made the…Read More
I only spent three days in Bavaria and I now regret not spending more time here with my friend Helga and her family. The people in Bavaria are very nice and the architecture and sights are out of this world. I made the best of my time in Dachau, where Helga, her partner Peter and their daughters Vera and Denise moved back to after my last visit here in 2001. Ten years later, the girls are teenagers and Helga is teaching English while Peter has left banking and has struck out on his own in his own printing business.
When I wasn't enjoying the beautiful Spring days in Dachau in Helga's backyard, I was sightseeing with Helga in downtown Dachau. I had been here 10 years ago after seeing the infamous concentration camp, but this time, I did not go back to the camp thinking once is enough and the memories of seeing that place ten years ago are still burned in my brain. I wanted to see a little bit more of the place, and Helga and I took a walk around town and its palace on Good Friday. Traffic was light in town since just about all businesses except for restaurants and bakeries (closed early after being open since 4 or 5 a.m.) are closed by law for the Easter Weekend.
I once again saw St. Jakobkirche (St. Jacob's Church), the 17th Century Catholic church where Helga's daughters were christened. This time I took more pictures of the interior and exterior that I missed the last time and lit another candle for a good trip for me and the Red Sox to pull out of that early-season slump they were in. Helga and I visited the schloss and then walked the town seeing some new sights and window shopping several closed shops.
I saw the Ludwig Thoma home that was the famous Bavarian author's home for two years. Thoma (1867-1921) was originally a lawyer who practiced law in Dachau for two years in the mid-1890's before becoming a writer of satirical stories of life in rural and small-town Bavaria. Thoma was a medic in the German Army during World War I and this must have given him the nationalistic fever that caused him to join the German Fatherland Party in 1917. The German Fatherland Party was a precursor to the Nazi Party and was disbanded after the German Revolution in December 1918. After the disbanding of this right-wing party, one of its members, Anton Drexler, founded the German Workers Party that eventually became the German National Socialist Party or Nazis for short. Thoma's Dachau home is now a tourist sight and the home cannot be missed with Thoma's name painted near the roof.
I learned that Dachau dates from Celtic times when the Celts settled the area around 1000 BC and the place was derived from the Celtic word Dahuua which means "loamy meadow" and in 805 AD, Dachau was established by a deed by the Archbishop of Freising.
But I learned a lot about Dachau from Peter and Helga and how the town is being settled by people from Croatia and the former East Germany or DDR. In fact, the people that rent the apartment in Peter and Helga's house are from Gera in eastern Germany. I didn't get a chance to talk to them much but we were visited more by their cute little Dachsund puppy on several occasions. Dog lover me can say that Bavarian dogs are cute and friendly too. I regret not spending a lot more time with Helga and Peter, but I am hoping to in another three years and hope to see more of this splendid place called Bavaria!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 12 May, 2011
My 2011 European vacation to see friends in Germany, The Netherlands and Italy started off smoothly with my flight from Pensacola to Miami being on time. My second leg of the the trip from Miami to London's Heathrow Airport started off fine, too, but…Read More
My 2011 European vacation to see friends in Germany, The Netherlands and Italy started off smoothly with my flight from Pensacola to Miami being on time. My second leg of the the trip from Miami to London's Heathrow Airport started off fine, too, but started to go down the toilet once I boarded the plane. First of all, there was a German couple with twin babies who were not very happy when they realized their seats were not going to be together for the flight, and the baby girl was crying from the get-go. They were near my seat, and I thought, "Great! The worst nightmare for a traveler when you are stuck near a fat person or screaming babies!" I was ready to sacrifice a good night's sleep on the plane having two empty seats near me to stretch out just to shut the bellyaching parents and screaming kid once and for all. The flight attendant, Mike, must have been reading my mind and came up to my seat and asked me if I would be interested in moving to another aisle seat nearby. He offered my a free drink, and I told him I would have done it for free, but took him up on the free drink offer.
So finally in my new seat in Row 35, I tried to nap a little bit but when you are 5"8" and long-legged and like to stretch out to sleep, it wasn't easy, and I was lucky to get maybe three hours of beauty sleep during the entire flight. I took advantage of Mike's free-drink offer at dinner by getting a Budweiser. After that and watching some TV programs on the in-flight screens, I looked forward to landing in London in a short time, but just when you thought things were going right. . .
The pilot or purser came over the intercom as we were travelling over the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada saying that due to the brain trust in Miami failing to properly inspect our plane before taking off from there, we would have to turn back to JFK Airport in New York to be inspected and then go to London from there. Just about every passenger groaned and started to grab any flight attendant in sight. I had established a great repore with Mike during this time, so I got out of my seat and went to him in the back where he was calming all of us down and letting us know what was going on. During our time at JFK, we would have to stay on the plane and wait for the inspection to be completed. UGH! But then I looked at it this way with my snarky sense of humor: I didn't bring my Red Sox hat or a t-shirt and if I did get off the plane at JFK to stretch out, I might have met a Yankee fan who might have insulted my garb and I might have slugged him and gone to jail for all of Red Sox Nation! Best for me to stay on the plane instead of risking bodily harm for calling Alex Rodriguez "A-Roid."
Now, I am going to pay Mike Janes, the flight attendant of American Airlines Flight 56, a big thank you and compliment. Mike was so patient and sweet with all of the passengers, including myself, who went to him to get information. He didn't pussyfoot around the truth and after a while we were talking about sports, politics and he complimented the handmade sweater I had on for most of the flight. He made sure my water bottle was full for the entire flight and my needs were met. So, Mike, if you are reading this, "thank you!"
Less than two hours after landing at JFK, we were ready to take off for London again and made it there two hours later. Mike told us that anyone like myself who was connecting elsewhere that people were waiting at the gate to get us in the right direction to our next flights. After saying good-bye to Mike and getting my instructions from the folks at Heathrow, I had to go to the British Airways line to get my new ticket to Frankfurt for the 3:35 flight. The couple with the twins was also on this flight but by this time, the baby was quiet and they were happy to be sitting together.
We landed at Frankfurt about 6 p.m. and I had missed my train to Dachau where my friend Helga lives with her family. I went to the Deutsche-Bahn desk at the airport to see about getting to my next destination, and the girl behind the counter was kind enough to get me on the next train to Dachau via Ingolstadt that would get to Dachau at 11:30 that night. Then I realized I didn't have Helga's phone number and couldn't use my cell phone even though I thought I had put international time on it before leaving home. GRRR! The nice girl at the desk then got me connected to Helga and Helga said once I got to Dachau to call her, and she and Peter would be there to get me since the train station at Dachau is a short ride from their home. Another woman at the Frankfurt Flughafen Bahnhof said I should write to American Airlines about a possible refund for the missed train since I had paid for my ticket before leaving home via the www.bahn.com.
My train from Frankfurt was a little late getting to Ingolstadt, and the train to Dachau was about to leave, but the conductor saw three of us getting off the Frankfurt train and waited for us, and I just took the first seat available on the train and collapsed exhausted and sore. We got to Dachau on time and I had to search for a pay phone and was lucky to find one near the bike rack at the station and called Helga and she and Peter were there in no time happy to see me. After arriving at their lovely home in Dachau, I wound down with them in their kitchen before a cold shower (their hot water heater is on timer and stopped working for the night but I was clean) and crashed about 1 a.m. and slept until 7 the next day refreshed and ready for adventure.
American Airlines gave me a 3,000 credit towards my AAAdvantage account due to the snafu between Miami and London and when I wrote them to ask about a refund on my lost train ticket and complimented our hero Mike about his kindness during our flight, they, unfortunately could not give me my money back but kindly thanked me for writing about that and my compliments for Mike and gave me an additional 2,000 miles for my account. SWEET! Trip that was looking like a disaster got back on the right foot!
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 23 Oct, 2005
Dachau's Crematorium and never used gas chamber along with its museum are two of the most known sights within the concentration camp, but this entry will cover some of the other lesser-known sights within Dachau. The Kommandant's House is located towards the back of Dachau…Read More
Dachau's Crematorium and never used gas chamber along with its museum are two of the most known sights within the concentration camp, but this entry will cover some of the other lesser-known sights within Dachau.
The Kommandant's House is located towards the back of Dachau outside the barbed wire fencing that surrounded the camp. While the prisoners in Dachau froze and were exposed to other horrible elements natural and unnatural, Kommandant Eicke and his henchmen were quatered in cozy little cottages right outside the camp.
The onion-domed Russian Memorial and Chapel is one of several memorials and places of worship that was built after the camp's liberation in 1945. Over 20,000 Soviet soldiers and civillians perished in Dachau from 1941-1945. In 1942, the Nazis executed thousands of Soviet POW's in mass executions by firing squad. After liberation on April 29, 1945, the former Soviet POW's and concentration camp survivors were repatriated back to Stalin's USSR, where Stalin considered these prisoners traitors for surrendering to the Germans instead of fighting them. Thousands of these soldiers and civillians were deported to Stalin's Gulags in Sibera, and many of them never returned home.
The Appelplatz was the main square of Dachau Concentration Camp. During its reign of death, this square was the sight of daily roll calls (appel), executions, and other heinous acts committed by the Nazis against their prisoners. Today, the Appelplatz has a barbed wire statue in its center to commemorate the many people of many nations who perished in Dachau.
The Barracks and Latrines of Dachau that remain standing were home to thousands of men from all walks of life and nations in Europe from 1933-1945. The Nazis crammed the barracks beyond capacity with people in deplorable conditions that attracted lice, rodents, and diseases like typhus and dysentary. People would die by the thousands and by war's end and liberation, over 30,000 people from all religions and nations had perished within Dachau's gates.
Several of Dachau's barracks and buildings were destroyed after its liberation by the Americans, but what remains there packs an emotional wallop and cannot be missed during your visit to Dachau.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 30 Oct, 2005
My friend Helga lives in Dachau, Germany, and I visited her in September 2001. At the time, she was living in the nearby town of Lauterbach with her partner Peter and their two daughters, Vera and Denise. They preferred to live in the town of…Read More
My friend Helga lives in Dachau, Germany, and I visited her in September 2001. At the time, she was living in the nearby town of Lauterbach with her partner Peter and their two daughters, Vera and Denise. They preferred to live in the town of Dachau itself because it was closer to her mother, work, and her daughters' school. So, in 2002, Helga, Peter, and their family moved back to Dachau, a town of 38,000 people with a long and checkered history.
Dachau is a town that has been vilified by the world because of the notorious Nazi concentration camp that was built there in 1933 and ran its reign of death for 12 years before its liberation by the American Army on April 29, 1945. Many residents of Dachau resent the fact that their town's claim to fame is the concentration camp, and many residents feel stigmatized when they drive their cars with Dachau license plates around Europe. Residents of Dachau felt that they didn't have any control when the Nazis built the camp outside of their town in 1933 and were not members of the Nazi Party. Many of the townsfolk tried to help the concentration camp prisoners who were forced to work on the roads and buildings throughout the town by feeding them or giving them blankets to keep warm at night. But if they tried to go to the camp to help the prisoners, the people of Dachau were thrown into jail or even executed. The day before the camp was liberated by the US Army, the residents of Dachau erupted in a revolt against the SS that killed a handful of its residents before being suppressed by the SS. A plaque is located somewhere in the town commemorating this virtually unknown event at the end of World War II.
The town of Dachau itself is a quaint little 1,200-year-old town located near Munich that has beautiful buildings and streets. Dachau, in its heyday, was an artist colony and fort town, the fortifications of which have since been torn down. In fact, no buildings exist from 1,200 years ago. Dachau has a baroque church that I visited with Helga, along with a castle that is now a restaurant and cultural events center. Unfortunately, Dachau does not have a synagogue, although several Jewish people settled in the town of Dachau for a short time after World War II. Helga and I also visited the castle, and we were able to admire the beautiful view of the town of Dachau and Munich in the distance, along with the Bavarian Countryside.
If you are planning to visit the concentration camp outside of Dachau, take a short trip into the town of Dachau to admire its beauty and see that life was going on as lives were being taken away a couple of miles away in the camp. It is well worth your time.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 24 Oct, 2005
As I rode the train from Ingolstadt to Dachau to meet my friend Helga in September 2001, my imagination ran rampant. I was transported to Nazi Germany and wondered how it was for people who crossed the Hitler regime, getting deported to Dachau Concentration Camp.…Read More
As I rode the train from Ingolstadt to Dachau to meet my friend Helga in September 2001, my imagination ran rampant. I was transported to Nazi Germany and wondered how it was for people who crossed the Hitler regime, getting deported to Dachau Concentration Camp.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 27 May, 2004
Dachau Concentration Camp was a camp set up by the Nazis to imprison Jews, political prisoners, clergymen, homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war from 1933 to 1945.
Unlike Auschwitz, where the majority of the people sent there were gassed to death, the SS guards…Read More
Dachau Concentration Camp was a camp set up by the Nazis to imprison Jews, political prisoners, clergymen, homosexuals, and Soviet prisoners of war from 1933 to 1945.
Unlike Auschwitz, where the majority of the people sent there were gassed to death, the SS guards in Dachau preferred to kill their prisoners by other methods such as starvation, medical experiments, overwork by slave labor, torture, disease, hanging or firing squad. Dachau is located in a swamp area, and during the winter prisoners died from exposure and frostbite, and in the hot summer, they died from heat stroke.
In 1942 the Nazis built a gas chamber in Dachau, but it was never used. When the Nazis wanted to execute large numbers of prisoners, they transported them in invalid transports to Hartheim Castle in Austria, where the unfortunate victims were gassed there. From 1941 to 1942, thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, who were considered as subhuman by the Nazis, were executed by SS firing squads outside the gates of Dachau.
I wasn't prepared for the reaction that overcame me when I walked into the Dachau gas chamber and crematorium. I first walked into the gas chamber (Brausebad). The Auschwitz/Birkenau theme from Schindler's List was going through my head at the time. I started to feel numb, my legs were like Jell-O, and I knew it wasn't from the effects of the stomach flu I had just gotten over. I had to step outside, where my friend Helga was standing in tears. She asked me if I was OK, and I said I would be fine, and I went back inside to see the crematorium, which left me even number. I walked through the rest of the camp in a numb trance and almost in tears.
By the time Dachau was liberated by the US Army on April 29, 1945, there were only a small number of prisoners left in the camp to be liberated. The SS had executed many prisoners by firing squad outside the camp, and over 7,000 prisoners were moved further south by the SS in a death march.
Visiting the gas chamber and crematorium at Dachau was an emotional experience for me that still lingers in my memories today. After I returned from Europe in 2001, I saw the final episode of the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, where Easy Company liberated one of Dachau's satellite camps. It brought back a flood of memories for me, and I can now understand why many American World War II veterans will not talk about the liberation of the camps or their experiences.