Monday, July 27, 2009

Nick's European Tour -- Video Call from Munich

Nick called me from an Internet cafe in Munich a short while ago ... we spent a few minutes chatting about his time there. He visited Dachau yesterday, one of three remaining gas chambers used by the Nazis. He took a train there and was guided by a nice fellow who does this all the time.

Apparently, Dachau was designed to hold 6,000 political prisoners in 1933, but by the time the allies liberated them, there are approximately 66,000 there. The rooms were small and had to hold 500 people, so they slept on top of each other. The weakest were placed at the bottom, and approximately 500 people suffocated across the whole camp some nights.

He walked through one of these rooms and through the gas chamber, and said that he felt physically ill. The psychological torture was also horrible ... months of waiting for paperwork between being notified of punishment and actually having it; being forced to choose between running into the escape zone to pick up a hat that was tossed by the SS or being punished for not wearing your hat (could result in death) ... this was one of the SS's favorite sports. Many such things ... it really brings home the brutality of that period in our collective history.

He was only able to recover with the help of a pub crawl. He is off to Amsterdam tomorrow ... my guess is that he will be feeling a whole lot more mellow in 24 hours ....

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