Monday, April 29, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin, Guten Tag Wittenburg

Waking up today we were a little slow moving but we managed to get ready and head down for breakfast.  There was lots to choose from but some was a bit strange for breakfast or we thought. There was some cold cuts and shrimp and some cold pasta and veggie salads that seem more like a lunch or dinner food for us. But there was some of the usual too. Adam had eggs bacon and sausage that sort. I had some of that as well and also a waffle and hard boiled egg. We both had a pastry or 2 and some juice.  Then it was off out of Berlin to Sachsenhausen Concentration camp.   I wish we could have seen more in Berlin but we really just would needed another day there.  It was rough at first getting used to driving and street signs, some things just took a bit longer then they probably would if we were back in the states. So we punched the address in the GPS and we were on our way.  Adam got his first taste of the Autobahn and we saw some beautiful wide open space much different then the streets and buildings of Berlin.  When we arrived in Orienburg we stopped at the information center because our GPS didn't recognize the address I punched in, so we got a map and a little direction and then were able to find it. 

Out on the open road of the Auto Bahn and Adam loving it.
The town of Oranienburg where the camp was.

When we arrived we both were thirsty so we walked into a cafe and asked for bottled water. He asked in return, with gas or without gas. I strange question to us. And the the light went on, I said to Adam,  carbonated or not. Just when we thought we were getting the hang of things. Although it is funny and interesting  to hear the differences in the language. After getting our bottles of water (without gas) we walked into the building to get a audio guide for the camp and started our walk. We saw everything bone chilling and more from the gates of tower A and the death strip (where if a prisoner stepped foot in this 2 feet of ground before the electric fence they would be shot and killed without warning and the shooters would be given pay raises and bonuses for doing so) to the toilet and wash room and the crematorium. The camp seems very wide open space today but they have these metal rectangles in the ground that are filled with ''tinker'' larger gravel, and each one is labeled, barrack 22, barrack 36, barrack 11, they represent all the prisoner barracks that used to stand there.  Probably the saddest place (if you can even pick one) was the mass murder trench and the crematorium. Something that I noticed were rocks placed on memorials all over the camp. Like at the end of Schindler's List how the surviving Jews came and put rocks on Schindler's grave. I was curious about the stones so I looked it up and it is a symbol of respect and I sign showing that the grave is visited and cared for.  And also there were flowers and roses placed all around.  It's hard for me to imagine having family that lost there life in that place.  But seeing those flowers reminds me that even though this is a place of history and the past. it is still like a fresh wound for others. I can't imagine knowing that in this horrible place my great great grandfather or grandmother or uncle or aunt endured the suffering of this place and lost their life there.

Tower A, where the clock remains stopped at the time of liberation, 11:07 am April 22,  1945
Gate entering the camp through tower A, first letter in the alphabet and the first stop in a prisoners journey.  The German, Arbeit Macht Frei means, Work Is Liberating.  

The prisoner barracks no longer remain standing, but the out line of each filled with rock remains as a reminder of all the buildings that held prisoners.

Monument to the people killed at the camp.

This was a stone memorial placed where there was a mass grave found with ashes, and the stones loved ones placed on it to tell their loved ones they were there.

A rose placed on the memorial stone for the victims.

Memorial in the crematorium for all who lost there life there.
The crematorium cynically names station Z, the last letter of the alphabet and the last stop in a prisoners life at the camp.
When we were finished we put the next address in the GPS and headed back through town. We were getting hungry for lunch so we said if we see something we'll stop. We wanted to go food like MC Donald's, which they do have here as well as KFC, Burger King and Subway that we have seen so far.  Well as luck would have it for us we didn't pass any such place before we were back on the Autobahn and decided so wait and have a good dinner in Wittenburg when we got there. One wrong turn, one traffic jam, a boost of speed to 175 km/ hour and threw beautiful country side we arrived in Wittenburg where once again our GPS failed us and having the name of the hotel written down came in handy.  We found our hotel but it was like a ghost town. There was no one around. The door for the reception desk had a note posted that the restaurant staff would check us in.  We were told by her that we needed to park somewhere else then where we told her we were parked, so before we got dinner which we were very hungry for, we had to figure out how to move our car.  No easy task when your talking about having to move around the old downtown shops that have cobble stone roads and several streets with no outlet.  But we finally managed to move it behind the hotel and we were in search of dinner.

Road signs on our way to Wittenburg.
Almost there...
As we walked threw this old downtown there was only a few people and a few shops and restaurants open. We found one that looked friendly and went in to find a very nice waiter that "of course" spoke English.  He helped us read the menu and we both ordered schnitzel, Adams was with ham, cheese and pineapple and mine was with an over easy egg. It was delicious.  I had decided going in that I wanted dessert. I was trying to get Adam to ask the waiter but he was being stubborn so we bantered back and fourth a while about it and then I finally asked.  We got crepes with wild berries. It was also very good.  We talked with our waiter more when he came to get the dessert plate and he asked why we would vacation here? That we were so close to Paris and Proge and Brazil that he would go to those places.  We asked if he has ever been to America and he had not been. He said it is a lot of money to spend but maybe someday. He said we was from Portugal, so he speaks Portuguese, German, and English. I just can't wrap my mind around that.  We also asked him why it was so quite in town and he said it was because it was Sunday and that tomorrow would be a whole different thing.  After dinner we came back to our hotel where there was no wifi and not one English channel. So we went to bed early, and were looking forward to Wartburg castle and moving on to seeing the Martins the next day.

Our hotel in Wittenburg.

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