Actually Riding the Rollercoaster

Okay, to be completely honest, I was very intimidated when I discovered I would be writing about Munich. I will preface by saying, I am not a history kind of gal. I LOVE learning and can engage in any history that has a direct correlation to something I am genuinely interested in, like biblical or theatre history. However, when it comes to wars and policies, it’s generally a no-go for me. For some reason, I just can’t wrap my mind around all of it. The dates and people get all jumbled up, and I usually end up frustrated.

All that being said, I am about to embark on the historical journey of a lifetime, so I should probably just pull myself up by my bootstraps and give history a chance. Munich is a city that contains an incredibly vast and complex history. The center of the axis party during World War II, Germany has a history that is bloody to say the least. Munich in particular became the home of the Nazi Party in 1930, the base for Hitler’s schemes to imprison and annihilate those who opposed the Nazi regime. Dachau was the original concentration camp for these “political prisoners.”

I recently met with Lance Jewett–a TCU sophomore and CR9 alum–over dinner at the BLUU to talk with him about his experience in Munich. Unlike myself, Lance loves history and finds most of it genuinely fascinating. He knew a good deal about WWII before visiting Munich and was still overwhelmed during his time at Dachau. I wondered if his experience was one in which the students and Dr. P conversed and explored openly or if it was more personal. He confirmed that it was indeed a very private exploration. The suffering that took place in Dachau years ago became very real to the students once they were actually there. It seems like its the difference between watching a video of a rollercoaster and actually riding one… And as I listened to Lance, I found that his experience was definitely an emotional rollercoaster. He explained how he couldn’t grasp that such evil could have actually occurred in such a way as it did in Dachau. In one instance inside the refurbished concentration camp, he went off on his own and found a narrow hallway that ended with a wall… There was an opening in a corner between the wall and the ground, and it became clear to Lance that this was a place where prisoners were taken to be shot… Their blood would drain through the opening and their bodies later disposed of. I could tell this had been a very chilling experience for him, as he described as best he could how he felt when he stood alone against the wall of the hallway, as if he himself were in the place of a Dachau prisoner.

Lance recommended that, throughout CR10, I write down my experiences and feelings as soon as I get the chance. He has gained a lot from re-reading notes he took last year, whether it was a quick note of his current emotional state or a description of an experience, like his at Dachau. He also recommended I brush up on my knowledge of WWII (I agree…) and go into everything with an open and curious mind. I am so thrilled for this adventure though still a bit intimidated by such an experience as I know Dachau will be. I know there is more to be explored in Munich than Dachau alone (like castles and yummy German food!!), but my mind always returns to the concentration camps upon thinking about this city. This summer, I hope I am truly able to keep an open mind and an eagerness to learn from both the beauty and the horror of Munich, Germany.

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