Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Three days in Munich...

Three days in Munich. I arrived in Munich on Saturday April 29th a little after noon time. It was raining out – not really bad, just a bit on the cold and damp side. The weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t great – it could be three days of rain (but that was not the be the case fortunately). Having never been to Munich – but having spent some time in London – I decided to spend the three day weekend between the Oracle University seminars I was giving in Munich – exploring.

After checking in and getting situated at the hotel, we set off for Marien Platz – a nice outdoor shopping area. We started here at the one end:
It is a closed off street with just pedestrian traffic – which is nice (apparently, in Germany – pedestrians do not have the right of way, learned that just by stepping off of the curb when it wasn’t exactly my turn. I’m still not entirely sure they would have stopped…). But it was a bit damp:
As we went from store to store – we picked up some stuff for the family back home (they haven’t gotten them yet, so I won’t talk about it…) and noticed some really strange window decorations:
Still not entirely sure what was up with that one – chickens with needs and hatchets, no idea. As we were walking down the street – someone pointed this out to me as something to been seen:
Those are not real people, just mannequins – and again, I did not entirely get it, but it was unusual to look at. Lots to look at. I found the architecture downtown to be really something to take in.

After spending about 3 hours walking around – it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for some Bavarian food – excellent beers and if you like pork (as I do) this is the place to be. Some friends from Oracle Germany took us out and fed us very well indeed.

On Sunday the weather cleared up considerably and we ventured out for a tour. After some suggestions on the blog and because I’ve read about it much in the past – I wanted to see Dachau. So we arranged for a tour. It started out at the old train station that was added later on (originally the inmates had to walk some 5k through town to get to the concentration camp):
It was a sobering experience to walk through the same gates the victims of Dachau might have, with the saying “Arbeit Macht Frei” staring at you (one translation is “Work Brings Freedom”):
The day we were there was the day after the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the camp by allied forces – we missed the services in the morning, but the remnants were all still there:
We had a pretty good guide, his name was Chaim and he lost most of his family in the holocaust. For him, this is always an emotional tour and you could hear it at times. This is the only “person” picture I took at Dachau – it just didn’t even cross our minds to “pose” for a picture here, we talked about it later – it would not even have felt remotely “right” to do so.
One story I remember him telling distinctly was about the prohibited zone. If one of the young guards (and they were very young in many cases – some would not be able to get their learners permit to drive) was feeling vicious – they might grab the hat of a prisoner and throw it into this grassy strip – the prohibited area. Step into it and the guard in the tower was under orders to shoot, no questions. Fail to obey their order to retrieve your hat and you were failing to obey an order – the hat thrower would shoot you. Not a really good set of choices:
Never Again, indeed, never again:
On Monday (May day, a holiday – no one working…) we went to Füssen, about two hours by train from Munich:
There are a pair of castles to visit there, as you can see by this shot – the weather this day was phenomenal – best of the three days. It got into the middle 60’s (f), 17(c) – it was nice. Had to take the coat off from time to time:
The buildings on site were great. This one was particularly cool looking I thought:
But this was the ultimate target – the Neuschwanstein Castle. Interesting story behind the construction – and if it looks familiar, yes, Walt Disney “borrowed” the idea for his “Sleeping Beauty” castle from this one:
After touring the castle we hiked up (higher up I should say – the castle itself was a climb), to this bridge (where the prior shot was taken from)
The sites around this castle were incredible – This shot looks like a poster if I don’t say so myself (but it isn’t, I took it):
Now, you might be wondering – I kept saying “we” throughout this entry. What is up with that – who is this “we”. Well – someone dropped in for the long weekend, Lori came over and met me at the Munich airport Saturday and I just saw her off to the airport this morning (I’m back to work). I did not have to eat dinner alone (until tonight when my plate exploded!) all weekend – that was nice.


Blogger DaPi said....

I played Horst in a staged reading of the play "Bent" - this character dies through the "hat trick" on the wire of a camp. Portraying him is one of the things I'm proud of.

We need as many people as possible to say "Never Again" in as many ways, places, languages as possble. Tom, thanks for adding your voice.

Tue May 02, 03:32:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Jeff Hunter said....

You've been a posting machine today, eh?

Tue May 02, 03:57:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

You've been a posting machine today, eh?

Oh man, take away the network for a couple of days....

I've two things on the desktop I'm just holding back - and I have that folder full of "stuff"

Tue May 02, 04:10:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

...Approximately four miles from my house last night.

It's not like the US is always very welcoming.

Tue May 02, 04:37:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

It's not like the US is always very welcoming

I concurr, I'd like to think that we would do more today but... (this is about as political a statement as you'll get me to say like this) I'm not sure "we" would.

Tue May 02, 05:03:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

It must be an extraordinary thing to be a guide to such a terrible place, especially when you have such a close personal connection to it. It practically redefines what it means to have a passion for your work.

Tue May 02, 05:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

redefines what it means to have a passion for your work.

one word...


Tue May 02, 05:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger jimk said....

Read Shindler's List and saw the movie. Wife won't see it, she says it is too disturbing. Yes, it is, but that's the point. It is disturbing, if one doesn't find it disturbing then it would have been a lousy movie (which it isn't) or something would be wrong with us.

My Alma Mater called asking for dinero the other night. I asked if Professor Butz was still there. Professor Butz wrote a book and gives lectures on how the Holocaust is a hoax. He is still there, and no I am not giving the school money.

There is an excellent book called "A Man Called Intrepid" It is about the OSS and precursors to MI 6. It starts prior to WWII and continues through it. Very interesting historical information about America Firsters and the personal position of the Ambassador in London at the time. (rather anti Semetic)

Yes, hopefully never again for any race or culture of people.

Tue May 02, 07:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Andy C said....

Great pictures. The BBC ran a fascinating series about Auschwitz last year. I would also like to visit Dachau and similarly pause for thought.

Tue May 02, 07:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

Visited Mauthausen back in 92. To this day the place is imprinted on my mind, as clear as if it was yesterday. Visiting one of these places is a very sobering thing I think everyone should do once in their life, if and when given the opportunity. Puts a lot of things into perspective.

Anyways: that castle is just a fairy tale thing, isn't it? The road from Munich to there also forks out to Innsbruck, on the other side of the mountain ridge.

This whole area is a postcard at every turn. It took us longer to travel from Austria to Munich through here than to cross the rest of Germany, we were stopping at just about every lookout and filling our eyes with the joy of that panorama.

Such a beautyful area, such a troubled history...

Tue May 02, 07:53:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

On the subject of movies, "Life is Beautiful" is another great one. Who would think of making a comedy about life and death in a concentration camp? And it actually works, both as a comedy and as a drama of incredible intensity.

I'll not spoil the ending ... *ahem* ;)

Tue May 02, 09:00:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Volker K said....

The window decoration with the chickens, needs and hatchets obviously was some kind of joke about the bird flu, which is quite an omnipresent topic in germany.

Wed May 03, 03:47:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Dallas Deeds said....

Nacht und Nebel ("Night and Fog") is a very interesting (and graphic) documentary on the concentration camps. I saw it in German class in high school.

I fed geese where you and Lori had your picture taken (17 years ago).

Did you have time to go through Hohenschwangau?

Wed May 03, 12:06:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Excellent pictures. I guess you take pictures as well as you know Oracle.

Wed May 03, 12:30:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Did you have time to go through Hohenschwangau?

No, just the other castle, we arrived at just past noon and had to leave at 4:30pm - just enough time to walk way up the hill, do the tour, get out to the bridge, shop, walk down the hill, have some cold bacon/bread/beer (cold bacon is very good, lots of horseradish - hit the spot) before getting back on the train.

It was a long day from 9:30am to 7:30pm - but a very good one.

I guess you take pictures as well as you know Oracle.

I blame that all on the camera - and luck. You are seeing 17 out of 198 pictures as well - I picked the cream of the crop to help tell a story... You don't get to see all of the bad shots :)

Wed May 03, 12:38:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I visited Auschwitz ten years ago this August. The gate also had the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" logo. In addition, there was a wall with a multilingual quote from George Santayana: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Despite all of the reading I've done about the Holocaust over the years, nothing could possibly have prepared me for the emotional impact of the place. Our tour guide, a young Polish woman, was also very passionate about the topic. It felt like she was talking directly to me and Mom, no doubt because we couldn't conceal the look of horror on our faces.

I can't imagine how anyone could visit such a place and doubt that the Holocaust really happened.

Bob Shepard

Wed May 03, 02:51:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hey Tom,

Looks like you've been moonlighting.


Wed May 03, 03:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Bloody Imposters!

Wed May 03, 06:29:00 PM EDT  


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