A visit to a concentration camp…so much more than just that.

I know it has been a while, but time has seemed to fly by the past few weeks and I have of course fallen behind on my blogging. If you can find it to forgive this fact, the following blog promises to provide enough entertainment and knowledge to make up for it. I hope.

I guess I should get things started by warning you that I will be doing things a bit differently in this post. As I was jogging along the Rhine this morning I realized that I don’t in fact provide much entertainment or information that you as readers can’t pick up and get in the typical travel book at Barnes and Nobles.

The past blogs have merely been a play by play account of what things I did, what buildings I saw, and what food I ate. While much can be said for keeping the readers in the loop and up to date with the activities of Jennifer and I, there is more to be said about the people, culture, and traditions that we have been experiencing most of which I have failed to accurately relay to you!

Given that I have set the bar quite high for this blog, if you do in fact like the new style or would rather the play by play approach feel free to go to the Millsaps College Facebook and tell me what you think!

Traditional Bavarian band inside one of the Frühlingsfest tents.

Here goes…  Last weekend Jennifer and myself added yet another city/country to the “visited” checklist: Munich, Germany (or München as in German). The trip was of course organized by the wonderful Buddy Program at the Uni and was filled with bonding, sight seeing, relaxing, and overall enjoyment. The purpose of the  visit was to experience the Frühlingsfest, or in other words a “miniature” Oktoberfest. Bavarians from all around travel to Munich for weeks of beer drinking, dancing, music, and overall merriment.

Our trip to Frühlingsfest was nothing short of merriment. We had out fair share of 1 liter beers of course, and even resorted to the table tops with the rest of the tent when the Liechtensteiner Polka was played by the band. Whoa before you get all shocked, let me assure you the old couple at the table nearby were up and dancing on their table as well…at Frühlingsfest or really any other Bavarian festival for that matter, it is simply expected of you.

Good Morning Munich!

Other than the Frühlingsfest we of course saw a good bit of the city, most of which was in a walking tour, one of the most memorable parts of the trip wasn’t a building or even ordering a liter of beer, but instead was located in a small clothing store. This store is where one of the best purchases of my life took place…a dirndl. In case you are wondering what a dirndl is picture the most traditional German woman yodeling on a mountain. That outfit that she is wearing? Yep THAT is a Dirndl.

Yes feast your eyes on one of the BEST purchases of all time!

The dirndl is worn by each and every Bavarian woman as the female equivalent to the men’s Lederhosen, and if you think I am exaggerating literally all of my German friends at the Uni have a pair and do in fact wear them to Oktoberfest, Frühlingsfest, weddings, parties, clubs, you name the place they have worn it there! Of course Jennifer and I are not ones to miss out the latest trends (or rather century old) so when we stumbled across the store we just had to go inside for “just a look”. Well a look turned into a purchase, and a purchase will turn into years of Halloween costumes (don’t tell the Bavarians I said that) and many memories. Yea just wait and see what my formal dress is next year…

Gates of entry to Dachau “work frees”.

Following the purchase of our Dirndls came one of the most eye opening experiences of my life, a visit to Dachau Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Munich. Ever since I can remember I have sat in my Dad’s lap and later on the couch next to him watching countless movies, documentaries, and television programs about World War II and the gruesome battles between the Allies and the Axis Powers and those humanity battles that took place inside the gates of concentration camps throughout Europe. Perhaps the my most vivid memory is watching Life is Beautiful, an Italian film which I of course “read” more so than “watched’ and being enthralled by the events that took place camps such as the one I have now visited.

Movies, television, books, and even pictures can never do justice to the feeling one gets while roaming the former location of “roll call square”, or walking through the barracks originally built for 200 which would end up housing 2,000. I learned about the events of the Holocaust in school, and even as someone who enjoyed history and learned more than the average student, nothing can ever match laying one’s own eyes on the original crematorium where so many innocent people met the end of their lives. This was in fact a frightening and intriguing moment wrapped up in one.

Roll Call Square

As I walked the paths that so many others had before, I thought about just exactly how such an awful moment of human history could be allowed to take place, and then I remembered it is STILL taking place. In countries around the world thousands of human lives are being claimed by the hands of government forces, and yet we are allowing it to take place. Will this too be an event that 60 years from now young International Students visit and think just how was this allowed to happen? As the thoughts of how such gruesome events are “allowed” to take place, another emotion came to mind…that of pride. Pride to be from the country that did indeed liberate the inmates of Dachau Concentration Camp and so many more throughout Europe.

The country that today remains a superpower amongst the world, and that truly is the best birthplace a young girl like myself could ever ask for. Surely I have stated that I am one blessed and privileged person to have the opportunity to spend five months of my education in Europe, but that experience itself would not have been possible had I been only born in another country. The United States was and will remain to be a world superpower if the younger generation continues to have experiences like mine, and realize there really is no place like home.

The visit to Dachau not only ignited in me emotions I never knew I had, but it also ignited in me a fire…one that will lead me back home in two months to begin my task of keeping the US just as big and bad as she really is. So Capitol Hill…this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Politician not quite, but I will find my way to serve maybe in future weekend travels I will discover just what exactly that will be! Stay tuned my friends…oh and God Bless the USA.

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