Monday: Spent extra reading time, which seems to be the best way for me to build a list of words to memorize. For the last hour of class Goethe paid for us to get some Hagen Daz ice cream around the corner in honor of one of our classmate’s b-day. The teacher told us that we had a €6 limit! I was like, who can spend that much on ice cream. Little did I know–a 2 scoop bowl with a topping was €5.80 (~$7)! But is was good.
Tuesday: Meine hübsche Frau arrived from Durham this evening! We’ve got a couple of days together to explore the city without kids thanks to her grandparents taking care of them.
Wednesday: We took the opportunity to take it easy. I went to half of class while Heather went on the New Berlin ‘free’ (tips) tour. She was pleased…I caught up with them at the end, and Charlie did a little better than Per, but we’d recommend them without hesitation. We got dinner, and then went to the Reichstag–parliment building. It was practically unused once Hitler took power. In fact a fire set there was the flash point that he used to consolidate power as a dictator. After German reunification, a glass dome was added to its roof so the people can walk in and look down on their representatives. It’s a symbolic show that the government is for the people as it was intended. In fact the phrase from the original building still stands: ‘Dem deutschen Volk’ (For the German People).
Thursday: We went to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp (KZ: Konzentrationslager) just outside Berlin, with the New Berlin tours. It was one of the first planned camps (vs one that was just thrown together), and it served as the headquarters for the whole camp system. The experience is hard to describe. It was cool and rainy–seemingly appropriate to fit the mood. As we went from building to building, it just got more depressing. At first you hear they did A, and you think that is horrible. Then you go to the next building and you hear they did B, and it’s even worse. Then the next and so on. It’s all things I’ve heard before but when you are in the actual place it happened, it’s a bit more real. Eventually it just made me sick–especially when we got to the extermination part, where they perfected the way to kill people without harming the guards’ conscience. (This was a concentration camp–a work/prison camp–not a death camp, where they just killed people, but most there ended up dying from the conditions, though they did also just exterminate people as well.) I doubt I’ll ever go to a camp again, unless I’m taking a group or my kids there when they are older.
In the end, the thing I took away from it is that no matter what negative reprocussions that we think may fall on us, we must stand up for the rights of all. Most of the German people seemed not to know much of what went on in these camps at first (do we question what goes on in our prisons?). Then when the truth started to get out, they didn’t speak up for fear of being put there themselves. It really makes me question things like the Guantanimo detentions where civil rights are redefined and ‘limited’ applications of torture are used. Shouldn’t we distance ourselves from any hint of injustice and totalitarian activities against people? I’m also moving more towards a pacifist position. Maybe there are just wars, but I think more and more that we must be defensive with military force rather than offensive.
Camp Gates: ‘Work makes (you) free’ — a bit of a lie.
Soviet Memorial for all the oppressed socialiasts and communists. If you look closely you’ll see the red triangles at the top–they signify mark the socialists had on their prison uniforms. Others: Jews-gold, gays-pink, concientious objectors-purple, criminals-green.
Most of the camp dormitories were wooden and have fallen apart, so they have these markers to show where they stood. Many have stones on them–a Jewish method of remembrance.
Den Opfern des KZ Sachsenhausen, In memory of the victims of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. This is at Station Z, the extermination area.
Friday: Dropped Heather off at Tegel Airport. They check you in there by flight–that is, you don’t just check in with KLM, you go to the flight checkin for KLM’s 10:15 flight to Amsterdam. It seemed a bit slower, and not the most efficient, but from what I could tell there were no delays with security checking. I did a little catch-up on homework before class, and just chilled at the house afterwards since I was tired from the last couple of days of running around the city.
Saturday: It was raining, and I was tired of sight seeing, so I just hung out in my room all day. Since I goofed off watching too much TV last weekend, I turned it off all day until about 9pm when Die Hard 2 was on (or Sterb Langsam 2). I got most of my HW done and read thru Romans 1 in German. All those sin words near the end of the chapter took on new meanings when I thought of the depravity of man with regard to my Thursday trip to the KZ at Sachsenhausen.
Sunday: Headed back to the International Baptist Church. I was going to visit a third church to see the differences but as I said I’m tired of sight seeing. I would rather go somewhere not new and where I already know there are friendly people waiting on me. Last Sunday I hear that I missed Jimmy (J.D.G.) Dunn speak at our church back in Durham. My wife said he preached on legalism and things that we do to add to the gospel. I asked Heather if he ever used the phrase ‘boundary markers’ and she said no.