After a great win last night, the group got early this morning and headed to breakfast (which is pretty fabulous at our current hotel). There was a lot of coffee slurped as everyone had stayed up for the big game but we all put that aside for our eight-hour walking tour today.
We met in the lobby and was introduced to our tour guide for the next few days named Greta. She gave us some background information on Berlin and German history in the conference room at the hotel for about an hour. We then left for our Nazi Walking Tour of Berlin. We saw so many historically rich, moving and beautiful sights. From memorials to museums to the Wall-it was a day with a lot of pictures and a lot of note taking.
The most moving spot for me that we visited was the Holocaust Memorial. There is a lot of controversy over whether this memorial feels impersonal or not. The memorial is full of granite blocks. They are all different sizes and on different parts of land. It looks like I can go on forever. There is no graffiti or writing on the memorial. Although this is great because it looks like the blocks have gone untouched, the very chemical that is used to keep off the graffiti is produced by the same company that made and distributed the chemicals in which the Nazis used to torture the Jews in the concentration camps. Walking through this memorial I became very emotional. You feel trapped inside of it even though it is outside. It is almost as if you are enveloped and lost within the blocks. Although there are no names or dates, this was the most intensely moved and saddened I have felt so far on the trip. That memorial really made me think as did the Nazi Book Rally sight. I had recently seen this reenacted in a movie so it was very meaningful to be standing in front of the library in which the books to be burned were taken was in a way terrifying. We heard the story of the author who attended the rally who’s book was being burned, although nothing happened, I could not imagine attending something in which my work was being thrown into a fire. It would feel as if part of me was being thrown into a fire. The quote “When they have burned books, they will end burning human beings”, has really stuck with me, and there lies a plaque with the very saying on the ground near the library. He was right to say the least.
We ended the day with a trip to the supermarket, we all need some super food for these exhausting days but incredible nonetheless. We will be visiting a concentration camp tomorrow and I am not really sure what to expect. I am a little nervous as I get the impression it is different from Dachau-so I am not sure how I am going to feel, but I do know I need a good night sleep to get ready for it. And thus I say after a wonderful day, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight!