The question asked again and again at the Nuremberg trials. Why?
The partition of Germany after the war with fences and guard towers as seen in Modlareuth. Why?
NOTE: Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can find more information here.
I have had an interest in Germany and German history ever since high school. My world history teacher (1962-63) was German and, when it came to history, she spent a lot of time discussing Germany in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Since then I've had an interest in understanding how three first cousins could go to war (WWI) against each other: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George V of Great Britain, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. And then have their successors repeat the war just 25 years later.
World War I had no winner. It ended out of sheer exhaustion of the participating countries. Germany put Lenin on a train and sent him into Russia to put the latter's focus on the home front situation. I previously reviewed the book "To End All Wars" which deals with the war, mostly from a British perspective.
On a previous trip to Europe I viewed the palaces of the Hapsburg Dynasty that ended with the first World War. When I planned this trip, I was particularly focused on seeing those areas of the country so pivotal in World War II - Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Nuremberg, Dachau, Potsdam, Dresden... Many of these I have already mentioned in this challenge.
The guides I had were all well-versed in German history. Every time I turned on a TV in Germany there was some station showing a program about the World Wars (in German so I had no idea what they were saying, but the topic was clear). The motto everywhere seemed to be 'Never Forget'.
I heard the question asked again and again about "Y" did people listen to Hitler? But think about it. We hear what we want to hear from whomever is delivering the message. If a country is struggling, they look to blame someone for their problems. Hitler gave them peoples to blame. They look to a leader, any leader who will tell them what they want to hear.
It seems rather inconceivable that they would follow so willingly. But ask yourself this: Do I follow willingly what my political party leaders, religious leaders, social contacts, or even my boss says without any independent thinking? How many people watch TV and follow whatever Dr. Oz has to say without verifying his sources of information??? (this is a pet peeve of mine, sorry folks)
On this trip I marveled at the German people's ability to rebuild their country after the war, even though it took many, many years. (And no, I have no German blood lines on either side of my family. As a matter of fact, my mother's family had their farm in northern Italy taken from them by the Germans in World War I.) The Germans have an intense enthusiasm and national pride. I was in Berlin during the Reunification Day ceremonies and the city was packed. It was like America on the 4th of July.
In the following pictures I will cover some of the areas dealing with the war. I'll let the photos do my talking for me.
In Berlin we visited the Bendler Block courtyard to see the outdoor memorial to the German Resistance:
The plaque with the names of the men who lost their lives after a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.
The story was made into several movies, most recently 'Valkyrie'.
There are many memorials to those who died in concentration camps including this Holocaust Memorial in Berlin:
And this sculpture in Frankfurt:
One could spend an entire day at the Topography of Terror Museum. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits. This is part of the wall outside:
While I may do a future post about the City of Nuremberg, for now the place to see there is the Documentation Center on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds.
This is what is left of the outdoor area:
The exhibits here and at the Topography of Terror are well worth the time it will take to adequately understand what was happening if you were not living at the time or have not studied this era in history. Nuremberg is also the home to the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg Trial verdicts were handed down:
And if what had happened in World War II wasn't enough, the Russians put barriers up around East Germany and in the case of Modlareuth, split the town right in half, separating families for 24 years (1966 - 1990). Imagine seeing this in your backyard:
Truly war has no winners, only survivors.
On my Bucket List: Yangtze River cruise