3 December 2012

Emotions in Berlin + Munich

{ Touching a piece of history - The Berlin Wall }

{ Wondering all the stories and secrets this particular piece of wall held - Berlin Wall }

It's been a little quiet around here for a week but there's a good reason for that... Germany needed my full and undivided attention, and, when we were done for the day of complete & utter living & being in the moments, I would curl up with Morgs at night and need to have a red wine, watch a movie, journal or read something inspirational, I couldn't sit & write. Why? Because Germany was so immensely emotionally intense for me. Not in a bad way either, in almost a necessary, it was always going to be that way, kind of way.

This trip, I was by far most excited about my dream destination Santorini, and then my be all and end all country, Spain. However, there has been excitement and anticipation for every day and city along the way also. Every city we have visited we have adored, loved, lived it up, drank it down, belly laughed, explored till our feet hurt and just totally and utterely vibed off the different energies each city has offered - all different, unique & amazing energies at that. But Germany was always going to be a little different for me. Morgs was really, really excited for it, and I was totally as well - for me though, it was alllll about the history, the same can be said for Morgs but he was also excited about the food & beer - understandably. Even the cities we picked in Germany were to make sure we got the most out of what we wanted which was to learn about this countries rich rich history, and oh, oh my did we get just that.

The two most energy zapping, emotional days for me on this whole trip by far came from Germany. Day 1 was in Berlin visiting the Topography of Terror, which is the site where the SS during WW2 had their headquarters and gave the most terrifying orders and tortured people in holding cells. Today it is a well laid out museum that goes through the history of what exactly went on in those inexcusable years through the war (& before) and names and shames the men behind the orders, torture & terror that went on. We thought we'd only spend an hour or so but ended up there all afternoon and in to late evening and heading back to our hostel that night we talked and talked about how could any of this truly have happened.

The second and most emotional day for me however came in Munich when we visited the Dachau concentration camp. It was here that thousands and thousands of innocent men died from execution, starvation, disease and even sick medical experiments. There were moments walking around the site the energy almost felt too strong, too horrifying that it made me have to stop to catch my breathe, or focus all my might to not vomit. There was one particular spot I became so overwhelmed and nauseous and covered in goosebumps I had to leave the area. It came as no surprise moments later reading plaques and information boards around the area I discovered it was the place that 90 Soviet Union prisoner of war men were shot  dead execution style. 

The videos, photos, feelings, and buildings still standing you can walk through today made me sob like I had lost a loved one, the heartache was that bad. I couldn't understand how man had inflicted such torture and terror upon his fellow man all in the name of ... of what? 

There is some good to this story though I promise and it came in an unsurprising manner. 

This is the part where I tell you what was so remarkable to me though, which gave me goosebumps of a different kind, which made my soul soar and heart leap that good did triumph over evil after all. Amongst all that terror in the camps, all the prisoners suffering and pain and inhumane treatment, I saw solidarity amongst prisoners. I saw smiles in photos when the men would gather in what tiny free time they had. I saw brotherly love. I saw men risking their lives for fellow prisoners, picking them up when they'd fallen from exhaustion and carrying them when they had nothing left to give. I saw a fight in their eyes. I saw a determination to not give in, no matter what, even with no rights or dignity. I saw and read of hope, that it would end for them and what they went through wouldn't be for nothing. 

I saw the human spirit in its most rawest, extraordinary form in every one of those prisoners who supported their fellow men and fought against the indignity.

So I left each of these days, feeling sad and regretful for what had been and what they suffered but inspired that against such evil and injustice there was still freedom in the mens minds to hope and support and hold on. 

With every experience comes lessons however which is the beauty of experiences themselves, no matter how emotional or amazing they are..., and this is what I learnt - I learnt that even though I couldn't and can't understand how it was man inflicting terror upon man, soldiers against prisoners, I also saw that it was man who supported man and got each other through. And that was a beautiful thing I got to take away from each of these days. I learnt that it's so important to have a strong mind, to believe, to hope, to keep human spirit alive even in your darkest days and hours.

I learnt more in those days at the museums and memorial sites than I have ever absorbed from a history lesson in school or test or book or movie and as heavy and committed I got emotionally, I would do it again to further honour the lives that were taken and absorb even more. 

But that's where I've been .. relaxing and recovering from an intense few weeks in Germany, learning in person about our worlds history. It's been draining but amazing and necessary and I will take away what I felt & learnt and remember it forever. 

I am sharing such honesty and stories with you today because throughout every museum we went too, but particularly the concentration camp the message was clear and the story was the same from the men who died or survived - "we will get through this and when we do, it won't have been for nothing". And they did, and it wasn't. I am sharing my experience to always look back on my opportunity to visit these sites and in my own way, honour & remember the lives lost in both the camps and for our men women who fought the war outside of the camps for freedom. 

With all of that said and done however I have this final thing to say ... Even with all the sad things you can learn whilst travelling the world I still say ... 

Here's to traveling.... for the uplifting moments, the sad moments, the extraordinary moments .. and every other moment in between.

{ The gate that prisoners walked through that is said they never knew when they would exit it again ... "Arbeit macht frei" - Work will set you free ... It was sick but Hitler & the Natzi's said that concentration camps were 'protective custody camps' & 're educational camps' ... }

{ The tunnel that was in between the two blocks of prisoner blocks ... the pictures of prisoners chatting and hanging together in this exact path is what gave me hope. It is where the prisoners spent their tiny amount of free time keeping each others spirits high }

{ The massive courtyard area in which every prisoner had to stand for hours and hours at a time twice a day for 'roll call', even the dead would be dragged out to make sure their numbers were correct. The sick would be marched through here once a day, mainly naked, even in -20 degree weather to ensure their dignity stayed lost, and they stayed sick - tormenting to even think about how horrific this all was }

{ A photo of a packed prisoner block of where they all slept. It was documented that the prisoners had to keep their beds spotless - no spots of blood, sweat, nothing, for that would incur discipline such as being hung on a stake for hours on end in freezing cold. It's said the level of cleanliness the prisoners had to upkeep in the camp was a form of torture in itself}

{ Standing in one of the rooms, overcome by emotion trying to fathom just how horrific it really was, the view from this window back in 1938 - 1945 was of a concrete wall, as the next prisoner block was just outside the window. There are only 2 blocks standing today with concrete slabs to indicate where the others had gone in a row }

{ A watch tower off in the distance that would shoot to kill any prisoner who crossed in to the escape zone. Where the snow starts and goes for about 5 metres is the zone. If prisoners couldn't bear the terror any further its documented they'd run in to this zone to be shot deliberately. The other atrocity was that soldiers would throw prisoners hats in to the zone and make them 'go and get them' knowing they'd be shot dead' }


  1. This was such a beautiful post and although I can't imagine what sort of emotions you felt during this, I'm glad you came out stronger and more determined than ever!

    1. Thank you Cinday! I think when you have any kind of experience in life we can always let it spur us on instead of get us down. Hope you are well xo

  2. What a moving place to visit. Like you I think I would be overcome with emotion imagining what life was like for those poor people. Iv read many books about the war in Germany but nothing could take you back to those days like visiting this place. You are a very brave girl x

    1. Michelle I always love getting your comments. I don't know about Brave, it took me until almost 25 to finally allow myself to see the graphic photos & videos (I think I wouldnt have been ready any age sooner though). Anything we do though, be it through books, or audio or film, or actual visits to the site is honouring the peoples story though, I am actually wanting to read more books when I get home about it all. Look forward to catching up on your blog when I'm home in less than 2 weeks xx

  3. I can't imagine the emotions of visiting the actual place where all this happened. I have been to the holocaust museum in Wash DC and I cried and cried. My hope is that history does not repeat itself!

    1. How fantastic Washington actually have a museum dedicated to this! As far as I know, we don't have one in Australia. There is a moving, graphic memorial on the site and as you get to the very end, the words "NEVER AGAIN" are displayed in about 8 different languages. Its our turn as a people and generation now to never ever ever let history repeat itself, and it comes with education and being interested in politics to not let them make big decisions without the peoples consent!! Can't wait to catch up on your blog once Im home & see what you have been up to :) x

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  5. Hi Anna, I must admire you for having the courage to go to such places. For me Holocaust is really the most painful part of the European history and it´s still present here in the Czech rep. There are signs on houses were people were kept before transports etc., Brno (where I live) was actually a Jewish city before WWII. I wouldn´t probably find the strength to go and experience any concentration camp myself. The emotions would probably be too much for me so I think you are a truly brave person ;)
    PS: Thank you, I´m fighting school in any possible way and I hope it´ll turn out fine. I´m honored you were thinking about me while you were in Paris ;)
    xx Eve.h

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