Friday, September 21, 2012

Exploring Deutschland

Back when I was in high school my family and I took a trip to see some relatives we have in Germany.  They all live around a small area that is kind of inbetween Nuremburg, Munich, and Prague.  We stayed in a small town named Lagenbach with my great aunt.  The town is very small (probably just a few hundred people) and everyone knows everyone else.  Her home is just across the street from a barn that houses a few cows, with a manure pile as high as the barn itself!  The smell wasn't as bad as you would think.  Since it was so long ago I don't quite remember the names of everywhere or the order we visited in, but I'll do my best to give you a good idea of the places we saw.
The first area I have picutures for is a church somewhere in the countryside.  All I remember about the church was that the inside was very ornate and pretty and the reason why it was constructed there was that a bunch of angels (7 I think) appeared to someone on this hillside.  I tried to find the actual name, but googling for "Church of the Seven Angels" didn't bring up any correct results.

The next pictures (I think) are from a town called Bamberg.  Bamberg is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site ( here ) and was an interesting little town.  The part I remember most about it was that some resident took us around on a sightseeing tour ( I don't think our relatives knew who he was ) and they are known for their rauchbier (literally, smoke beer).  I was underage, but tried some and didn't like it very much.  Now that I am of age, I still don't think I would drink a whole lot of it.  The town seemed nice, but I think I spend most of our time there trying to figure out what our guide was doing.

During the Cold War my family was always kind of worried that something might happen to my German relatives because they were so close to the border between East and West Germany.  Fortunately nothing happened to my relatives and part of the wall defenses have been preserved not too far from them.  It was really neat to see all of the fortifications so well preserved, but it was also scary to think about what it would have been like dealing with such an ominous structure splitting our country in half.

Next on our tour was the town of Dresden, which is a few hours north of my relatives.  Dresden is famous because of how fiecely the allies fire-bombed the city during World War 2.  On our way into the city we drove along a river and there were many large homes overlooking the river and some park land in front of us.

Eventually we got to the city's central square which has an impressive cathedral and many other structures.  One thing that was really surprising to all of us was that there is still visible damage from the bombings, even to this day!  Many older buildings are still black from the fierce fires that raged after the bombings and other buildings are still bombed out from the war.

There was a church in Dresden that I had heard about in my German language class before going to Germany called the Frauenkirche.  The church had a large dome on top that was shattered during the bombings, but there was a large effort underway to repair the church to its former glory.  I have read that after our visity to Germany the church has been completed, so whenever we get a chance to go back I would love to see it finished!

We also visited the site of the concentration camp Buchenwald.  It is certainly not a happy or exciting place to visit, but it is important for us to remember and prevent anything like these atrocities from ever happening again.  Most of the buildings from the original camp are gone, but many of the foundations of the barracks and other places remain.  The kommandant's headquarters and creamatorium are the only 2 major buildings that I remember as being intact.  Even though I am a little older, it is still difficult to look at these pictures and think of what occurred there and not get chilled to the bone.  We must strive to never let something like this ever happen again.

Finally I have some pictures that I know are from Germany, but I'm not sure where.  I think they are pretty neat, so I'm just going to put them at the end here.

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