Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dresden Excursion

What a fun few days! On Wednesday we took a trip out to the city of Dresden, meeting of Janet's friends, Helmut. I don't have words to described this wonderful man! I could call him awesome, sweet, incredible, or friendly, but none of those encompass his personality and accurately describe this man. He is a 70 year old German, who has lived under a total of FIVE, yes five, different governments and regimes in Germany. He also has lived his entire 70 year life walking and biking from place to place. He has never driven a car in his life. This man has so much energy and humor, it really made his several hour tour through Dresden so much better. And he is incredibly knowledgeable! (If the mentioning of a several hour tour of Dresden with wasn't enough of a clue to this fact) During our tour we had the privilege of seeing and learning about some of the architecture of the city both before, during, and after the bombings of WW2. Among such things were castles, churches, and how demolished the city was and how much has been built in the last 10 years alone! And Dresden is such a beautiful city! Between the incredibly fascinating architecture and the river that flows through the city, I was able to take, what I would call, some beautiful pictures.

Then on Thursday we took another trip from Dresden to Terezin, a town used as a Jewish Ghetto during WW2 and the holocaust. What I felt during the tour of this was, though it is part of the Holocaust and the ghettos of that time period were horrible places, compared to everything I had learned in history classes during my schooling and the focus on concentration/death camps of the holocaust, this ghetto felt a little happier and had a little more hope than those other places. Now I'm not saying "oh the ghetto was the place to be and it was wonderful and happy!" I agree and understand that the living conditions in these ghettos were horrendous and that many died in them simply due to those conditions and not from being put into gas chambers. But they had chances to live to an extent here. They were able to write and perform plays. They could receive packages from family and friends outside the camp. It gave a small spark of hope in one of the darkest times of human history. But while walking through that town, now inhabited by some 6,000 people or so, the sadness and despair from many years ago still lingered. There was a ghost town feeling to it, with very few people traversing the streets. The town felt almost empty, and many of the buildings were preserved or were modeled to look like the buildings of the ghetto time. It was like the city had been kept in this time bubble. It was quite an experience to be there, and I was happy to go.

Now it's time to stay in Berlin for the next few days and enjoy the city again!

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