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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

GERMANY - Post #6

Germany - Day 5

On Friday morning Jeannine dropped me off at the Fire Station where I met up with the guys. Stephen Voelkner (without hair) drove us back to Hochheim where he lives and hosted a lavish breakfast with his daughter Stefanie and his wife Ines.


Steffen collects antique fire helmets...which he doled out to the guys as a gift.


The Voelkners were our guides for the day and took us to the city of Weimar (pronounced Vi-Mar) ... and just outside of Weimar the Buchenwald Concentration Camp was located during between 1937 - 1945. Our tour guide walked us through only a very small portion of the camp and that took us 90 minutes. What occurred here was absolutely unimaginable, and is a piece of history that many people don't like to acknowledge or want to see first hand. However, I feel fortunate to have had this experience. It truly put a light on what people had gone through...and just how screwed up the whole thing was.


This road was where the prisoners began their experience at Buchenwald. It was here that they ran down the middle of the road while SS dogs chased them, or soldiers spat, kicked, or threw things at them. It was where the SS made their first impression, scaring the prisoners immediately so they understood their place within the camp.

The clock on the main entrance building into the area where the prisoners were kept has been stopped at 3:15pm to signify the time of day on April 11, 1945 when the Americans liberated the camp and the prisoners were FREE!


The prison within the prison...this is where the SS tortured those that were not abiding by their rules...however, all the prisoners within Buchenwald were being tortured just by being there.


This was the gate that the prisoners entered in to the camp...you are actually viewing it from the inside...the text on the gate was spelled so that you could only read it once you were inside..."JEDEM DAS SEINE" which meant To Each His Own or Everyone Gets What He Deserves. This was yet another item that the SS thought would break down the prisoners. They wanted to make it clear that the prisoners were getting what they deserved in this world. Like I said...it is unimaginable that there are people in this world who strongly believed that by eliminating those humans that were 'supposedly' beneath them, it would make the world a better place. And this wasn't that long ago...


Reconstruction of the electrical/barbed wire fence that stood between the prisoners and the outside world.



This was a Zoo that the SS had built to be enjoyed by their families who also lived within the 300 acre camp. And it only sat a few hundred feet from the crematorium.


The Crematorium



In 1997, while doing work on the crematorium, they found over 700 urns still within the attic.




This is the memorial plaque on the site of the first monument to the victims of Buchenwald. It was here on April 19, 1945, the survivors held a mourning ceremony at which they commemorated their dead comrades and swore the Oath of Buchenwald.

Turns out that many people living in Weimar had no idea, or claim to have no idea what was going on just a few miles from their city during this time. They knew there was a concentration camp, but had no idea what was going on there.

When the Americans liberated this camp, they randomly picked 1000 Weimar residents and made them walk through the camp so they could see first hand what had occurred there.

For more information on Buchenwald...check out some of these sites...

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Buchenwald/index.html


http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/buchenwald.html



After our visit to Buchenwald we ate lunch in Weimar...turns out right after we sat down the construction workers in the area cut a line and there was no electricity...so we drank a few more beers and Stephen went out to the Bratwurst Stand and brought back lunch! As soon as we were done...the electricity came back on!


This is the famous balcony where Hitler gave one of his speeches...turns out that at the same time we were looking at this, the clock struck 3:15, same time the Americans liberated the concentration camp...kind of a strange coincidence.


Weimar City Hall



After our trip to Weimar, we headed back to Hochheim where the Volunteer Fire Fighters threw us a BBQ dinner.




We spent the rest of our evening meeting the rest of the Kazek Family! We miss them already and can't wait to return!

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