Sunday, May 16, 2010


We went to Dachau today, the first concentration camp built inside Germany (it opened in 1933, just outside Munich - pretty hard to miss), and a model for many other camps build by the Nazis. The camp itself was almost totally demolished after the war (to borrow a phrase from Al Gore, it was an inconvenient truth), but starting in the mid 1960's, and prompted by survivor groups, the Bavarian government has restored part of the camp, created a museum in one of the remaining buildings, and erected memorials to the victims. It was not an easy visit.

Dachau, and its history of horrors stands in stark contradiction to the fine German people we have met - the warmth and friendliness, the eagerness to help and the faith of the German people beg the question, how could a civilized people have followed its leaders down the Nazi path of extreme cruelty, torture, murder and genocide. I wish I had an answer, I wish I could simply believe it was a small group of fanatics, or that today's generation of Germans, or today’s world, is somehow fundamentally different, and not ask any further questions.

How could the same German people who built the Cathedral at Regensburg, and who brought much civilization to the world, also build Dachau (and Auschwitz among many others)? Were the Nazi SS killers a different type of German then the Germans we have met? I wish I had more answers, they would make me more comfortable here.

On a lighter note, Claude Lamarre has arrived, it's great to see him. Every day of my life is a gift, having friends with me here is a wonderful added blessing.

Tomorrow we hit the road again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bill; Salut, les gars,

    I just caught up with your blog after a week's absence due to the end-of-semester frenzies. Fantastic stories and pictures. I wish I could have joined you on this trip. I'm there with you in spirit, as are all the folks to whom I recount your trajectory. A group of high school students and teachers, visiting Harvard from Petrolia Ontario, asked me to be their guide on campus, as Harvard doesn't do tours for 55 at a time! As I'd taken the day (yesterday, Saturday) off, and had the time, I gave them the insider's tour. To my surprise they were all music students. You should be hearing from them with mots d'encouragement pretty soon. And, the Harvard Canadians are of course all very proud of you.

    I'm hoping to be back in Montréal when you return on the 3rd to celebrate with you.

    Keep going and keep us blogged in.