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Three Nights and Dazed in Germany, Part II

June 26-29, 2004

Bacharach | Rothenburg | Wieskirche

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

"Never Again"

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak out for me--Martin Niemoeller, 1892-1984, a Protestant pastor in Nazi Germany and prisoner of the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps.

More than 200,000 Jews imprisoned and tortured here, near Munich, between 1933 and 1945. More than 43,000 of them died. A chilling place, even on a hot day.

Across a bleak roll-call area, imprisoned Jews were forced to stand motionless for hours. International memorial by Nandor Glid, built in 1968. Camp fencing of electrified barbed wire with grass strips, ditches, and a camp wall. Guards in seven towers shot at prisoners who stepped onto the grass.

Camp road with the poplars planted by prisoners, their meeting place during their few free hours. Two of the 34 barracks remain. Built to hold 200 prisoners each, they eventually were crammed with up to 2,000 each. Horrific medical experiments conducted by the Nazi Third Reich in three of them.

Not shown: two crematoriums, which included four furnaces for murdered prisoners--and a gas chamber for exterminating them, apparently never used.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country--Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering, April 18, 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials.

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Disturbing displays explained the Nazi rise to power and war: Fear of a vague enemy ... Fear of what people looked like ... Fear of their religion ... Attacks on minorities ... Charismatic leaders ... Vengeance ... Courts overturning human rights ... Government propaganda and lies ... Feeding untruths to the news media ... Limiting access to information ... Setting examples of "critics" ... Stifling dissent ... Rounding up "enemies" ... Spying on ordinary citizens, on one another ... Torturing to get information ... One-party rule ... Merger of state and corporate power ... Flouting international law ... Attacking, invading and occupying sovereign countries ...

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it--George Santayana, 1863-1952, from Life of Reason, "Reason in Common Sense," 1905.

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Wieskirche

Follow-up respite at a Baroque rococo-style "church in a sweet meadow," on the way to Bavaria near Oberammergau. Jesus rides a rainbow in the ceiling painting. Originally built 1746-1754. Lunch at the Bier-brewing Andechs Monastery with German spam ... uh, meatloaf, powerful cheese, and other people gnawing pig knuckles.

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Photo of group members in Andechs.

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To Germany I: Bacharach and St. Goar in The Rhineland, Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Bacharach | Rothenburg | Dachau | Wieskirche

Auf Wiedersehen to Germany! Danke to the beauty, history and inspiration.

Home | Netherlands | Germany | Austria | Italy | Switzerland | France | Useful Links | Rick Steves | Garbl's Writing Center

Copyright Gary and Donna Larson, Seattle, Washington. Updated Feb. 17, 2007.