-small town of Dinkelsbuhl
-Dachau Concentration Camp
-Meeting up with Dick and Brenda, Robbie's aunt & uncle
-Dinner with the Miles' and a Romanian friend!
Today has been such a whirlwind, we never even had time to eat lunch! And this is us! Biggest food-lovers of all time! Luckily we had a HUGE, delish German breakfast at our castle like the royalty we are. Seriously just what we needed to get a good start. We did a lot of driving, and it was mostly on the autobahn which was AWESOME because we totes went 180 km/hour and it's legal! (180 km sounds cooler than its equivalent in miles, but it's still pretty dang fast).
We were thinking of going back to our dear town of Rothenburg to see the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum, which I think would have been crazy and also super interesting, but in the end we realized that we wouldn't have much time bc we woke up so late (thanks to that 3am adventure). So instead, we hit the road toward Dinkelsbuhl, next stop on the Romantic Road. This place was adorable (again) and I wanted to take a picture every five seconds (again). I also almost bought lederhosen and a dress for our future children to play dress-ups in one day, but Robbie talked me down, much to my dismay.
We were super bummed to realize though that the BIGGEST FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR in Dinkelsbuhl is happening one day too late. Every year the city puts on what is called the "Kinderzeche," which is a big festival that commemorates an event during the Thirty Year's War. Apparently, in 1632 the Swiss were invading and many German cities had already been desolated by their troops. They had surrounded the town of Dinkelsbuhl for several weeks and the people were terrified of what would happen to their beloved city. So the story goes that a group of children from the town decided to approach the Colonel of the Swiss army and beg him to spare their city. The Colonel was so moved by their courage and purity (and was also mourning the death if his own son) that he decided to show mercy and the town was saved. So this festival commemorates those children and their bravery. There is a big parade with kids all dressed up in period clothing AND a re-enactment of the event. What?! So cute and such a cool story! Too bad it all starts....tomorrow. Anyhoo, it was still a beautiful city.
Then we hit the road again in our swagger wagon. We had to skip the last town we'd planned to see, for lack of time (it goes by so fast here!) so that we could make it to a more important place by five. Dachau Concentration Camp.
I've learned a lot about the camps and the Holocaust through college and I've taught it in my classroom. But it is a completely different feeling to stand where it happened. One thing that really surprised both of us was how huge it was. There were just rows and rows of foundations where the barracks used to be. It was one of the first camps built (in 1933, well before the war started in 1939) and was actually one of the largest camps for the first few years of the war. It was intended to hold 6,000 prisoners, but when it was liberated in 1945, it was holding 32,000.
For me, one of the most overpowering parts was walking through the gate, into what they call the "Roll Call" area. First of all, the gate says, "Arbeit Macht Frei," which basically means "Work Makes You Free." From the start they wanted prisoners to believe that submissiveness and obedience was their only chance of survival here. Then they enter a huge dirt yard for roll call. This is the first place prisoners see when they step inside the camp, and all I could think about standing there was how confused and scared they must have been while standing on that very spot. Not having any idea what was to come.
Something I found really interesting was how much trouble the Nazis went to to make the camp "seem pleasant" to the public. Their propaganda was insane. They had huge heating systems installed (very advanced for that time) just for show. They never actually used them for prisoners. They also had the prisoners dig a big "swimming pool" to show the public that the camp encouraged sport and fitness. But in reality, it was a nasty pond that no one could touch for fear of disease. So much effort spent on trying to "look" generous, instead of actually being generous. Dark times.
But the camp also showed cool moments of bravery and spirit. It told the story of one man from Luxembourg named Albert Theis who served in the military there, and when it was taken over by Germany he was forced to join the German police force. He and several others refused, so some were killed and others sent to camps. He made it to Dachau, where every year the officers would try to make him swear allegiance to Hitler by any means necessary. The story read, "They refused the oath up to the very end." Wow. That is an incredible spirit. He survived the camp and lived a very long life.
So the camp visit was sobering, of course, but so powerful. We left with such a feeling of respect and reverence.
After the camp, we finally made it to Munich where we had to drop off our rental car (which turned out to be a nightmare trying to find the place) and then we saw some familiar faces!
Robbie's aunt and uncle, Brenda and Dick Miles, are serving as mission presidents in the Alpine German-speaking mission, which basically just means they get the most beautiful parts of four of the most beautiful countries in the world. Paradise. They live in Munich, Germany and are letting us stay with them for two days, because mission presidents and mission moms don't have anything better to do with their time, right? Haha, they are some of the most genuine, kind people I've ever met, and totally made room in their crazy, busy schedule to spend some time with us while we are here. So they came to pick us up from the car rental place and brought with them a surprise! A woman Robbie taught in Romania now lives in Munich and is good friends with the Miles' so she came with them, total surprise to us! It was so fun. Robbie was so excited. I had never met her but we became quick friends and chatted all night. (Chatted IN ROMANIAN! I haven't completely forgotten everything! Yay!)
The five of us went to dinner at this outdoor restaurant by the river and it was beautiful and (of course) SO delicious. I had real German schnitzel and Rob had some pork knuckle and sauerkraut. We're gettin our bucket list of the only German foods we have ever heard of knocked out one by one. The real winner of the night though was dessert. I think it's called Kaiserschmarn? Basically, it's pieces of lightly fried French toast dipped in sugar and cinnamon, with sliced plums mixed in and apple sauce on top. Holy crap. It was SO good! Fo sho gonna be recreating that when we come home.
It was so good to catch up with Svetlana (Romanian) and hang out with Dick and Brenda. What a fun couple to have as mission presidents! I would have loved them as a missionary. Exhausted, we finally turned in for the night and Robbie got to sleep in a full-size bed. Like a big boy.