With the end of this program drawing to a rapid close, I’ve now begun to consider what I hope to take away from my time spent traveling so far. This also allows me to consider what I expected from this trip in relation to what I hoped to gain, and I can’t say with any certainty that I know how to answer that question. I could say that I hoped to gain a new perspective, but what does that even mean? In the most fundamental way possible, I feel as though this trip has made me critical of everything. I feel as though that I’ve begun to question everything and even myself. Tomorrow as we head to Auschwitz, I want to really get a grip on what my expectations were and what exactly I’m going to leave this program with. 

Today we visited the Warsaw Uprising Museum that honored those who vigilantly attempted to save their country from the impending Nazi-occupation. It was incredibly intriguing to see an entire museum dedicated to the resistance movement. While here in Poland, I’ve begun to notice that the pervasive narrative Poland would like its visitors and residents to remember is the victim mentality. They were victims to the Nazi occupation, and for that we should feel sorry. However, in Germany, the country has taken to laying out all the facts for one to gather their own opinion. While they accept the blame as perpetrators, to an extent, there were some victims residing within Germany as well. The juxtaposition regarding memory in the two countries is one thats interesting to examine.

stephynow:

Balance the mind, balance the body. #forearmfridays
22nd Jul 201415:452,887 notes
22nd Jul 201415:452,388 notes

I feel as though its necessary that I write a blog post entirely dedicated to Berlin because damn what a city. I mean really, if you’re ever wondering if you should go, please do. My best description of that city is that its if you bottled all of NYC’s lower east side and made an entire city out of it. There is an amazing food scene, its multi-cultural, everyone loves riding bikes, the transportation system is incredibly comprehensive, and its very walkable. What else could anyone want in a city? Theres so much to see and do always that a week in Berlin wasn’t nearly enough time. Truthfully, I couldn’t even begin to sum up my time in Berlin or even in this program because its just been so incredible, we’ve seen done and learned so much that its impossible to articulate it honestly.

I can’t believe it ya’ll. Ive been traveling for 3 weeks already, and have made my way to Warsaw, Poland. Germany was fantastic, and Berlin was definitely amazing. Someday, I will make my way back there. 

We’ve only been in Poland for two days so far, so we haven’t seen much. This evening, we had the opportunity to walk with the community to commemorate the 72nd liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. The walk was special because we started in reverse, meaning we went from the point at which they were deported back to where they had lived. 

I look forward to what Poland has to hold!

The history of National-Socialism is so pervasive throughout much of Germany. However, what interests me is the ways in which Munich and Berlin as cities have both decided to deal with their Nazi past. While walking through Berlin today, I noticed that Berlin’s attitude regarding National-Socialism is similar to “This was us, but this is us now.” They’ve, for lack of a better word, embraced their role in the development of national-socialism, created monuments and memorials when it was appropriate, but have otherwise decided to pick up the pieces and move on. For example, on the grounds of the former Reich Chancellory and bunker where HItler committed suicide now stands a parking lot and and an apartment complex. For some, this might seem quite odd, however, personally I believe that it is justified. There is no right or wrong way to move on, and at some point you have to. In contrast however, is Munich. A city that has had a far more troubling time dealing with their part in the development of National-Socalism. Allow me to make one observation: the demographic of both cities is incredibly different. Munich caters to a more wealthy and older crowd which quite obviously possess different feeling and emotions regarding the Holocaust and for lack of a better word might feel more ashamed for it. In subtle ways, Munich has also moved on however they are still quite hesitant. For example, the much anticipated but highly controversial development of the Documentation Centre on National Socialism or even erecting a modern art museum in a place that was influential for the party, and deciding to make it a modern art museum because the Nazi party disliked modern art. Additionally, the demographic of Berlin is very young compared to that of Munich and ostensibly more progressive. The younger demographic who probably and approximately two generations removed from the Holocaust has an easier time dealing with the Nazi history than their parents or grandparents which could be an explanation for the shameless embracing of the National Socialist history. Another thing to note is that much of these monuments and museums were developed in the 2000s. Very recently. 

These are the thoughts that have been running through my mind all day, and its just been such an interesting comparison.

Earlier this afternoon, we arrived in Berlin! So far, Berlin reminds me so much of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Its as if someone captured the entire LES of NYC and created an entire city that encapsulated just that vibe. Berlin is one part hipster, another part fun, and another part funky. Its a pretty interesting city, and I can’t wait to spend my next seven to eight days here. After a pretty long day of travel, touring and finishing a paper, I am very ready to relax and have the day off tomorrow to root for Germany in the final game of the world cup! 

Today, again, we ventured into the city of Nuremburg where the Nazi party held their rallies during the second World War. In addition to that, we also spent time exploring the Nuremburg Documentation Centre on National-Socialism which seeks to illuminate the history of the party by revealing the truth and the ways in which Hitler and his regime came to power and categorically took possession over most of Europe. 

After the museum, we spent some time walking and engaging in brief discussion about what are the appropriate uses, if any, to the former party rally grounds. Should they be used? Should they be preserved? Should they decay? Should we just leave them alone? There is no right or wrong answer here, however this is quite an interesting notion to think about. It sure did give me a lot to contemplate.

Yesterday, we arrived in Nuremburg/Erlagen which is a short two hour train ride from Munich. 

Today, we spent the day in Nuremburg proper at the Palace of Justice. The historic sight of the Nuremburg Trials in 1945. It was fascinating to see and hear about the proceedings of the court as well as the defense and prosecution strategies. Where does one even begin in regards to determining a just sentence for the countless lives that were lost during the Holocaust? Not the loss of a Nazi life could bring back the millions of those they killed. Its so thought provoking to think about whether or not these trials were successful, and if the party leaders didn’t admit to guilt or involvement with the near genocide, were they actually successful?

8th Jul 201417:163,516 notes

So far, I have had an incredible time time in Germany. A few of the things we’ve done so far are walking tours of Munich, interacting at different seminars, and having some fun by spending the day in the Bavarian Alps seeing Neuschwanstein Castle, biking, and even stopping for a swim in a lake. 

I’ll be sure to post pictures soon of what I’ve been up to here in Germany! 

Today is my second day within the city of Munich. The day started off with a large assortment of traditional breakfast fair followed by a morning into early afternoon walking tour. During the tour, we walked through the main city centre of Munich, Marienplatz, and viewed several churches along with many historic sites. The afternoon was followed by a short lunch break that included pizza, because why not, and gelato. I couldn’t resist the fact that it was only 1,20 euro! During the afternoon, we had a tour of a socialist museum in Munich that touched briefly on the period after the first World War and before the second World War. The title of this post was taken directly from our tour guide this afternoon—its something that resonated with me. Traditionally, your family are the people that stand by you. They’re the ones that are supposed to love you unconditionally. At the point during our tour, the guide was discussing that political opposition was strictly punished and more often than not one was sent to a concentration camp, condemned to hard labor. Even if you had opinions that went contrary to the Nazi-party, it was in your best interest to not share that with anyone. Not even your family for fear of being disowned and sentenced to a life of hard labor. In addition to this, we also had the opportunity to view photographs and propaganda posters used during that time. This is all quite fascinating to me. The Holocaust is a difficult piece of the heritage of Germany, a piece that they would most assuredly like to forget. Its a piece of their history that they as a country have tried to move past and somewhat erase. However, the question of whether or not something so widely known and so widely taught can ever be effectively or even some what erased and/or forgotten….

29th Jun 201414:408,740 notes
28th Jun 201422:59218 notes
Opaque  by  andbamnan