One of the most confusing experiences in life is being speechless. There are times I have so much to say but absolutely no words to describe my feelings. The Webster Dictionary needs to add a few more words to explain unique cities like Munich. This German city made me speechless in many different ways.
Our train from Munich took us through the countryside of Germany where we were awed by our window views. Little did we know that our worlds would soon be rocked by the sights hidden behind the mountain. We approached some “modest” vacation homes in the hills of Germany, know as the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. Let’s just say they were FAR from modest.
Mosaics lining the floors and intricate paintings on the ceilings were just a few features that added to the beauty of the interior. However, the true beauty in my eyes was in the view outside the small castle windows. There were endless fields of green and still fog that made you feel as if you were on top of the world.
After touring the interior of the castles, we hiked up to a scenic bridge. This was no ordinary bridge. If we are being honest nothing we do on CR is ordinary. This bridge hung over a massive waterfall that overlooked the Neuschwanstein castle. Right before I took my first step onto the bridge, I looked over to those around me and said, “this is about to be the most beautiful view I have ever seen.” I was not wrong. This breathtaking view left me absolutely speechless. In that moment I just thought about all the amazing parts of our world. How could we have conflicts and stress if places like this exist? Life just seemed so simple in that moment and I was left speechless.
After a calming day at the castles, we were shocked back into reality the very next day at the Dachau concentration camp.
Our visit to Dachau concentration camp left me speechless in a very different way. I entered the gates of the camp and immediately felt a pit in my stomach. This was the real space where innocent people faced evil every single second of their day. I wandered around the concentration camp trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who experienced this pain. Of course I will never be able to understand the true horror of this time, but feeling even a sliver of their pain was overwhelming.
A small board hidden behind one of the buildings was where I felt the power of this experience. This board described the barriers that trapped thousands within the perimeter of the camp. I gazed up at the fences and walls that set barriers to the outside world. These physical barriers represented the millions of other societal barriers that people deported to camps faced. Their human rights were ripped away the moment that Nazis arrived on their doorstep. There was a picture of a woman who had tried to jump the fence and was shot before she could get over. She was one of the many who ran into the fence knowing that the guards would shoot. This was an easy escape from their life controlled by Nazis. I looked at the picture of the deceased woman and time stood still. How could humans do this to other humans? How can a country that has the beauty of the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles be so incredibly evil at the same time? Bunkers, gas chambers, and religious memorials all added to the emotion and confusion that I was feeling.
7 hours passed at Dachau concentration camp and I did not have answers to my questions. I accepted that I will never have answers to my questions. I found a tree near the side of the camp fences and sat down to write in my journal. I was speechless in a very different way. Finding words to fit my feelings was impossible.
If anyone has the opportunity to visit Dachau I highly would recommend. This is not because it is a fun and exciting location, it is because of the heartbreak one feels when visiting. The murder of over 40,000 people on these grounds is something that is hard to fathom. But the heartbreak makes you realize that there is hope in this world to be better and to stand up against evil. We all have the chance to make a positive impact on the world, even in simple ways. So take action on the little things so that we never have to face something like this again.
Until next time,