Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Day with Hitler's Ghost

Today I stood where Hitler stood. Probably stood. Most likely stood.

I started at the "Haus der Wansee Konferenz", which was absolutely and completely beautiful. Lush gardens covered the grounds with beautiful sculptures and gorgeous flowers, completely kept up. In fact, two gardeners were working on the upkeep as we entered the gates. (Excuse me, what?) The back of the house opened up to a beautiful, serene lake. Really, the entire image of this place was what I would imagine heaven would look like. Please, step back and check out this fantastic irony.

As soon as we stepped inside, to the free museum, we were bombarded by so many images and plaques regarding the Wansee Conference, the Holocaust, Eugenics, and the various deportations of Jews. It was a completely different world, but one of the most interesting aspects of this trip so far! A couple of years ago, I watched the film adaptation of the Wansee Conference and that is what made me want to go to this museum so badly when we arrived in Berlin. I wasn't banking on being there and seeing the exact same set, except real.

If this didn't blow my mind enough, I hopped on the train to go to the Olympic Stadium. For those who don't know, this was the home of the 1936 Olympics, which fell beautiful during the time of the Nazi regime. Hitler tried so hard to make this a successful showing of Aryan dominance and German dominance, but then Jesse Owens, a black man from Ohio, screwed it all up by winning 4 gold medals. This stadium was also completely breath taking! There were sculptures of Aryan athletes that marked the East and West entrances, a bell tower, and a gigantic mural-- I couldn't necessarily tell you what it was commemorating, but it was pretty. I saw where the Olympic flame was held and the small swastikas that marked the bell that originally sat in the bell tower.

As Helmut, our fantastic Dresden tour guide once said, "You can't be proud of your country without accepting the crimes it has committed. Otherwise it's not being honest." I believe that by keeping the stadium virtually as is and still holding games within it Germans are doing just that.

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