Go with the Flow

Alright, full disclosure: I have not been prioritizing the blog very well. This one’s been cooking for a while… But it is what it is, so enjoy!

Munich, Germany

May 25, 2018

So much has happened these past 10 (more or less) days, it seems like we’ve jammed a whole month worth of adventure into them. That being said, time has flown by, and I can’t believe we are already onto our THIRD city! Germany was a blast! I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy these two cities and learning about their culture and history nearly as much as I have. In fact, I’ve decided to learn German and move into a cottage in the mountainous part of Munich (or I guess I should say, München). Adieu, TCU… I’ve found my new home! Okay, maybe not, but I do hope to return to Germany one day and explore even more.

Thus far, the CRecaders have visited multiple memorials and museums, engaged in meaningful and intelligent conversions, contemplated the horrors of the holocaust in Dachau, walked MANY miles, eaten A LOT of bread and meat, experienced the wonders of a night train, and more. Most importantly though, we have developed some pretty awesome friendships and learned so much from and about each other. I LOVE these people and am pumped to get to know each of them even more.

I figured it’d be fun to share one of many unique stories from the experience. This kind of experience is a “you had to be there” kind of thing, but it’s worth sharing nevertheless.

Day one in Munich (May 21st) was an interesting one… Fun and exciting, but we were all exhausted from the night train and frazzled from a unique wake up call, which is a different story altogether. We were split up into two groups (go Team Neuschwanstein!) and set off to explore the city. Since it just so happened to be Pentecost that day, many of the places and things to visit on our list were closed. We decided to hit all the places we could and then take it from there. By the time we had visited everything we could, it seemed as though most of us had hit a wall, and we hadn’t eaten… Thus, a handful of hangry horned frogs searched the streets of Munich for some good grub. We ended up at an Italian restaurant, which revived our stomachs and spirits significantly. Then we decided to head over to the English Garten and watch some dudes surf the river rapids–it was pretty gnarly. After standing there for a few minutes, one of us suggested that we cross the bridge to the other side of the river and sit on the grass for a bit. The answer was a resounding YES. We picked a spot at the edge of the river and those of us who didn’t first take a bathroom break began to relax. But a thought was brewing in the minds of the few of us at the shore… That water looked especially inviting on such a warm day… And the surfers seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Of course, we weren’t considering imitating them–that could have been disastrous to say the least. But a little dip into the rushing river wouldn’t hurt, would it?

……….

By the time the other half arrived, the few of us were antsy to jump in and had stripped down to shorts and sports bras (I assure you, Marat and Nishu were not wearing sports bras, just in case you were curious). Needless to say, we were ready. The other four joined in and we did indeed jump into the river–the freezing cold river–one after the other, and manage to fight the current and pull ourselves back onto the ledge and then to the grass. We then laid out on the grass, some reading, others listening to music or talking. I was just thinking. It had been an odd and somewhat emotional day for me. I had fought the need to retreat and allow myself quite time. I needed this time to breathe and just think and pray. It was good. After we were mostly air-dried, we headed back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Spontaneous adventures of this kind have been some of my favorite CR10 moments thus far. They seem to happen most when we least anticipate it.

I’ve learned it’s necessary to allow yourself to be interrupted every once in a while… There might be something awesome–and/or hilarious–waiting for you to experience.

Never Again

My time at Dachau was an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging day. For our final day in Germany, CR10 spent the day at the Dachau concentration camp just outside the city of Munich. The Dachau concentration camp was a Nazi instrument of terror for twelve years, and in it, so many unspeakable horrors occurred.

From the moment I walked into the main central memorial area, I felt extremely uncomfortable. The path we took led us straight through the Jourhaus, the entrance gate to the concentration camp. As each prisoner stepped through that gate, they lost their freedom and dignity – set on a path that would lead to their unwarranted death or to a past that could not and should not be forgotten. “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “work sets you free,” is the phrase that was ironically placed on the gate. It made a mockery of the people as they entered. The notion that Dachau was a labor camp and a correctional facility played down everything that really occurred behind closed doors.

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Looking out on the prisoner camp, I began to realize the sheer size of it all. The prison camp was only a small portion of the entire camp, which means the entire camp was ginormous. How preposterous is it that the Nazi’s would devote so many resources, so much time, and so much land to systematically oppress all sorts of people who weren’t part of the “superior” race of Aryans?

I spent most of the morning walking the entire course of the camp and trying to take it all in, wondering how in the world this could have happened. I tried to imagine placing myself in the prisoners’ spots. Attempting to place myself in the prisoners’ shoes helped to make sense of all that was around me. I tried desperately to imagine myself walking through the entrance gate. I tried to imagine standing completely still during roll call, having to keep still even when a neighbor collapsed to the ground or seeing a dead man dragged to the position next to me. I tried with all my will to understand the gravity of the situation. Yet, I am fully aware that I can never even come close to truly understanding without being put in a situation like that. All I can do is try.

What got to me most was the final section of the camp, the crematorium. Harry Zaslow, a Jewish-American soldier, took part in the liberation of Dachau. In a recorded interview, he mentions smelling a putrid stench coming from somewhere and looking up to see smoke coming from two buildings near the back of the camp. He approached the buildings and opened the door to the larger building to discover a room full of dead bodies, piled on each other to the top of the ceiling. After already witnessing the hundreds of bodies laying around the camp, this only added to his horror. Harry continued on and opened another door to find another room of bodies also stacked to the ceiling. At this moment in the recording, I stood in the middle of the two chambers, unable to put together any coherent thoughts. TWO large rooms filled with dead bodies?!?!? Not to mention the significant number of those dead in the box cars on the train tracks. How horrifying!! The recording continued and Harry described stepping into the furnace room,  and looking into one furnace. What he saw must’ve shaken him to the core. There, in front of him, lay bodies slowly being roasted going into the furnace. Only then can I imagine did this US soldier fully grasp the barbarity of the Nazi regime.

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In the large crematorium, I also got to see the gas chambers. Here, one hundred and fifty prisoners were stuffed in a room under the belief that they would be receiving a shower for once! This small room was then heated up and filled with noxious air that would cause those inside to suffocate for fifteen to twenty minutes and then die. In the past, whenever I had heard any mention of gas chambers, I had assumed that it was a quick death, not realizing that it was meant to be a slow and torturous process for the people stuck inside. Words cannot describe how quickly I ran through that room, knowing all that had occurred there. The few seconds I spent scampering into and out of the room were enough to make me feel its heavy weight.

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Even days  after visiting this haunting memorial, I can’t help but feel anger towards the injustice, sorrow for the so many lives lost, and shock for the extent to which the Nazis cruelly dealt with the thousands that were brought to the Dachau concentration camp. Despite my reeling and despair, I was able to leave the site not feeling completely overwhelmed and depressed.. The Protestant Church of Reconciliation provided a feeling that had evaded me all day – hope. Its design stands in stark contrast to the design of the concentration camp. This church was created with different sized rooms and a lack of any ninety-degree angle – a symbol of the Nazi murder system. Another design created random protrusions along the church walls to emphasize the importance of depth.

“Depth can frighten or threaten you, but also be a shelter or protection. It’s important that experience of depth doesn’t destroy you. Out of the depths a person may complain, may weep, may cry, may pray.” – Helmut Striffler (the architect)

We can’t run from depth; we can’t run from the things we find gruesome and horrifying. If we don’t choose to face what we find deeply disturbing, we fail to honor and acknowledge the suffering so many people went through. Failing to address past atrocities can lead to an unwanted repeat in history. We also CANNOT let this sickening experience destroy the hope we hold. This quote brought me so much comfort in realizing that I absolutely needed to feel despair and anger to better understand all that went on in Dachau. With this quote came a bible verse from Psalm 130: “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord.” I cried out to the Lord while praying, utterly devoid of hope. He was attentive to my cry for mercy for my unrestful soul, and in that moment, I felt some solace. This religious memorial actively fights against the belief of discrimination and causes me to actively fight against it too. The Dachau concentration camp is meant to honor those who died and to show the world how the Nazis were able to carry out their plans. With this information, we have the responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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NEVER AGAIN can we stand for discrimination, racism, homophobia, and prejudice that led to the brutal murder of so many innocent lives. NEVER AGAIN should the entire world be blind to the maltreatment of entire groups of people. And NEVER AGAIN will we allow a tyranny to extinguish the lives of millions.

– Marat Rosencrants

The Influence of One

Germany has given us a really hands-on experience with its history, and I’ve learned so much! But something that has really stood out to me is how Hitler was able to create and lead this huge Nazi Party. He carefully crafted this horrific history, and his carefully crafted image greatly influenced the world.

How can one influence the world, creating life-changing movements? And how can we be influential leaders who help the world grow?

Let’s begin with the history that inspired this thought.

The Beginnings

I learned so much between Berlin’s memorials and Munich’s Documentation Center.

Hitler’s rise to power began with learning how to reach people and fulfill their desires. After WWI, Hitler went back to Munich to learn how to speak to crowds and wealthy families, raising supporters. Any great leader and movement needs supporters, so Hitler was very smart to go after them first. This experience also shows that Hitler had to learn first. School is an incredible place to learn and I want to open my eyes up to all that TCU and the next three years have to offer.

Hitler also got put in prison, and while I don’t think every great leader needs to go to prison, we all face hardships. It’s the leaders who overcome obstacles and use hardships to grow that powerfully influence the world. During his time in prison, Hitler used this time to plan his new world and wrote Mein Kamph. This prompted me to ask, what hardships am I going through now and how can I use these challenges to grow?

Lastly, fun fact: Hitler wouldn’t allow anyone to take pictures of him until after 1923. He wanted to stage his photos to go with his movement. This just goes to show how much influence social media has. He even created Köningsplatz as the perfect background to his speeches and events. He carefully thought out his whole movement.

What image are you creating for yourself? And, why?

Learning, creating relationships, overcoming hardships, and crafting a social media presence are all steps to building clout and influence. But the power to choose if this influence is positive or negative completely rests on the individual.

The Choice

Hitler chose to try to create a ‘perfect’ society by destroying a whole group of people, but you could use influence to positively impact the world like by creating a world movement to live healthier. I know I want to craft an open, loving, enthusiastic influence to positively impact this world, influencing people to love others and themselves better.

Power Plays

The Nazi Party began in 1920 and Hitler focused the party on creating a perfect world without Jews. But come 1921, Hitler became the social chairman and changed the Nazi Party’s focus to follow himself, the Fürer.

After this turning point, the Nazi Party destroyed so many lives by using their influence in a negative way. In 1933, Munich was made the capital of modern art, pushing reactionary art over modern, persuading people propaganda was the truth. Parties other than the Nazi Party as well as sports groups who wouldn’t conform to the Nazi’s requests were banned. Hitler even created a secret police, making people so afraid of the consequences of resisting or not conforming. These steps slowly took away rights from those persecuted by the party. Hitler’s influence even grew so much that governmental permission was needed to buy houses and go into air-raid shelters. One had to have Nazi Party affiliation and the ability to produce racially desirable offspring to buy houses. There were even physical signs saying “No Jews Allowed.”

But how much different is this discrimination from the influencial standards surrounding us today? Do we value extroverts over introverts, certain body images or even specific job titles more than others? What restrictions have we put on people today?

Hitler clearly worked to create his own name and the perfect society, using the influence he crafted to kill millions. But something to be learned from him is how he was so dedicated and prepared to create a huge impact on the world. Then he was successful in making change. Unfortunately this took so many innocent lives, creating immense negative repercussions. But we each have the power to influence.

The Future

We can choose to stand up and stand out. We can choose to be the one to influence others. There are so many dreams present on CR10, and we each have the opportunity to enormously impact this world.

Emma has such a passion for helping others and she potentially wants to pursue law! Brooke has an incredible story that has led her to potentially do neurology. Jacob so passionately wants to help all people have access to life-saving healthcare! How cool!?! There are so many of us with enormous dreams to positively impact our world. The Crecade is unstoppable. We can learn and start using every single aspect of our lives to create an influence to positively impact the world.

We are truly learning to change the world. Let’s influence the world starting right now!

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen

Goodnight (Moon)ich

“You are without rights, dishonorable and defenseless. You’re a pile of shit and that is how you’re going to be treated.” -Josef Jarolin, 1941

This was the first quote that I saw in the museum on the grounds of the Dachau concentration camp, and as I read it I felt something inside of myself that I had never felt before. I was not mentally prepared for the horrors that Dachau had in store, and that quote just affirmed what I already new in my heart; this experience would be difficult.

“What really stirs up in our hearts is the helplessness, the complete impotence, the feeling of being at the mercy of anyone who comes along. To be a plaything of his mood, and without having the primitive right of being considered human.” -prisoner account of Rudolf Kalmar

It was easy in Berlin and earlier in Munich to attempt to rationalize the things we were seeing. But when faced with the overwhelming imagery and quotes and videos and standing on the ground where tens of thousands of people died, my need for rationalization went out the window and I just felt empty. People were murdered where I stood, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I saw where they slept, where they ate, where they walked, and where they died.

Looking at images of people who were denied their most basic human rights struck a cord within me. They were victims to whoever wanted to exert power over them, and they couldn’t resist. I have a strong moral compass, sometimes to a fault, and looking at that people being deprived of something as basic as being considered human made me feel weak. 

Walking out of Dachau, I didn’t feel right. I wanted to cry, or be angry, but more than anything, I wanted to be able to do something about what I had just seen. I didn’t want to feel helpless against the crimes against humanity I had just witnessed.

I went back to my journal from a few days before and found what I was looking for. It came from the Documentation Center in Munich:

“Where is the guilt of the

innocent-

Where does it begin?

It begins there,

Where he stands to one side

Unperturbed, with arms relaxed

and shoulders shrugged,

Buttoning his coat,

Lighting a cigarette and saying:

There’s nothing we can do.

Look here, that’s where the guilt

of the innocent begins.”

-Gerty Spies

In reading this, I realized what had made me so uncomfortable in Dachau— the feeling of helplessness. The feeling that the worst of crimes had been committed here, and I was just a witness to the aftermath. Seeing all of the people who perished in such an unjust way, I felt guilty. I wanted to bring them justice, I wanted to fight for them, I wanted to have had their back.

The Documentation Center brought me great joy for this reason. It showed me the people who resisted, to the best of their ability, and took action against the injustice they saw. I felt filled with pride when learning about the incredible things Anita Augspurg and Lida Heymann, along with many other women, did to fight for women’s rights and pacifism. Toni Pfülf and the Social Democratic Party’s work to call upon people to fight the Nazi party was admirable.

The feeling that I had in Dachau of helplessness stemmed from feeling as if these tens of thousands of people had no help. I saw victims, I saw injustice, and I wanted to fight it. But remembering the documentation center was vital— it showed me that there was resistance, there were fighters for justice and righteousness. I felt proud to see people standing up and facing almost certain death because they knew what was going on was wrong.

I’ve always stuck to my convictions and called out anything I don’t agree with. It’s something I would consider both a strength and a flaw. I realize now what I couldn’t wrap my mind around—the idea that no one saw what was happening and thought it was wrong. But after going back and seeing that there were people who stuck to their beliefs, I felt hope. There’s a reason the Nazi’s lost, and it’s because of those people. Be it the small acts of resistance or the large ones, they all made an impact and they all helped in the end. And while many of those protesters died, they died knowing they were doing what was right. They died on the right side of history. These people give me hope, they give me inspiration, and they give me purpose. I strive to be like these passionate leaders, and I will never forget the good things they did.

“Engage in passive resistance. Resistance wherever you are. Disrupt the running of the atheistic war machine before it’s too late. Before the last of our cities live in ruins, like Cologne, before the last of our youth had bled to death for the hubris of a subhuman. Do not forget: Every people deserves the government it tolerates!”

-excerpt from White Rose flyer, 1942

Thank you, Dachau, and thank you to the documentation center, for showing me that there were good people doing what was right and standing up to the evil taking over. And thank you for reminding me to never stand to the side when I see injustice. The guilt of the innocent will remain in my mind and my soul forever.

There’s always something we can do.

Goodbye, Munich. You are one I won’t forget.

The Sun Will Come Out

When team Hohenshwangau was in the Residenz museum in Munich, we met a nice guy who worked there. We must have looked totally lost because he asked us, “Ausgang? Exit?” After a bit of small talk, we told him we were going to Dachau the next day. He warned us that weather conditions feel more extreme there. A bright, sunny day becomes a smoldering hot day; a cold, raining day becomes a freezing day.

Dr. Pitcock proceeded to tell us it was going to rain, so prepare for the cold. So naturally I wore chacos, shorts, and a T-shirt. While my mom would probably freak out if she saw me walking out into the cold in what I had on, I’m so glad I made the choice to not dress warmly. Even when being in the physical location of such atrocities and injustices, it can be hard to wrap your mind around what went wrong. It’s hard to understand the reality of what happened. And while I may have been shivering, I don’t think being comfortable in a concentration camp would feel appropriate. One of the ways the SS would torture prisoners was by making them stand outside in the elements. That’s it. They would stand there and endure hours of role call as a form of torture. That’s how horrible the conditions were: even standing outside was unbearable to them because they weren’t properly clothed, fed, and were constantly on their toes to make sure nothing they did would get them killed.

Standing in the location of where Roll Call occurred was difficult, but I’m so glad I took the time to stand there and absorb the environment around me. Just beyond the walls of the camp were trees, a flowing creek, and the beautiful nature of Germany. It reminded me of how often we take naturally beautiful things and pervert them into dangerous and painful places filled with hatred.

I decided it was time to move into the building with the sort of museum portion of the camp inside to give myself a break from the rain. This museum was the culmination of everything we had learned from the last two cities. I was able to see the Nazi’s rise to power, the persecution of anyone who posed a threat to or disagreed with the Nazis, and the torture the Nazis put their prisoners through.

The Nazi ideology viewed Jews as objects without rights or dignity, or intrinsic value. Every nasty joke was met with applause, every bit of indecency was met with vile laughter. Health care was a joke, the only viable explanation for how the medical system worked inside the camp was “the more Jews that died, the better off the Nazis were”. Life became savage for the prisoners. A spoon or a plate could be the difference between life and death, and they were valued much more than we could ever imagine. Punishments ranged from whipping, to tying a human’s arms behind their back and hanging them from their wrists, to executions. Nothing was too inhumane for the prisoners because the prisoners were not viewed as human beings.

Human beings are not tools; and whipping them does not change their physical capabilities. A certain guard asked a prisoner to operate two machines at the same time. When they told him it was not possible, he replied with “then I’ll just write a few reports – after a few of you get whipped, the rest will work.” Everything the Nazis did was to achieve death of Jews: either in spirit or in body. Prisoners were not allowed to seek shelter during bombings, medical tests were conducted on them to see which organs fail first during hypothermia or how malaria affects the body, the list goes on and on.

Eventually, the Nazis realized that the conditions were so bad for the prisoners that they were not going to be able to achieve the work they were counting to win the war. Imagine that. Conditions were improved not because of some great revelation that what they were Doing was objectively wrong, but because they needed the labor of their prisoners.

They eventually had a reward system set up for the humans inside the camp. What crushed me was that the highest reward a prisoner could receive was a visit to a brothel. Labor trafficking thus fed into sex trafficking during this time. Nazis were rewarding their prisoners with more brokenness.

It took me about four hours to get through the the building. Needless to say, my spirit was crushed after reading everything I read in the building that many of those atrocities took place in. But as I opened the doors, something remarkable happened: the sun came out. The cold and the rain disappeared, and the air was warm. I didn’t understand at first what God was trying to tell me, and I still don’t think I fully understand it, but I think it has to do with the fact that human beings are seeing this information and being hurt by it. That hurt allows us to remember what happened and stop it from happening again. The purpose of visiting a concentration camp is not to feel sorry for all of the pain and suffering that happened to all of those people. The purpose is to pass down the memory of injustice so the small things like racist jokes, sexist comments, bullying, and a lack of empathy can be stopped before they take root and become something much worse.It’s on the people who have walked in the footsteps of the oppressed to remind the world that “it has happened, so it can happen again.” The sun came out when as I exited the building because the informed can bring light to the darkness and warmth to the cold by having empathy and heart.

There is Hope

As I sat in the Carmelite chapel in the very back of the Dachau concentration camp, I reflected about the power of faith. So many aspects of Dachau left a pit in my stomach – the roll call area, the barracks, the crematorium and more shattered my heart into pieces. I cannot fathom how humans are capable of treating other humans in the way the Nazis treated the prisoners of the concentration camps, and I had to pray a lot to find a way to come to terms with everything I saw in Dachau.

The most sickening aspect of any concentration camp is the dehumanization of people. Not only were the victims of Dachau starved, tortured, beaten, and brutally murdered, but they were stripped of everything that makes them human. They lost all free will, all individual human rights as soon as they entered through the gate inscribed with the words “work sets you free.” Pretty ironic, right?

I reflected on this a lot as I stood in the Schubraum, the room in which the prisoners are registered, told to remove their clothes, and forced to give up every possession they own. As I walked through the room, I paused in the place where the prisoners stood as they removed their clothes and turned in their belongings. This is the room where prisoners became nothing more than a number to the SS officials. Looking at the tables that contained personal items from various prisoners broke my heart. Every item told a story. I saw a prayer card, likely carried by a priest or a person dedicated to his faith. I saw a small photo of a young couple laughing and hugging. My heart shattered when I realized that these items are the ones that people couldn’t leave at home when they were deported to the camps, the ones that they carried in their wallets and looked at when they sought comfort. These items carry stories that define the person who carried them, and they were stripped away.

Despite the atrocities of the Holocaust that I relived as I walked through Dachau, I did not lose all faith in humanity. As I prayed and reflected in the chapel, I realized that the Holocaust represents the two extremes of human nature. The Nazis, the SS, and those who prided themselves in persecuting, torturing, and murdering other human beings committed some of the worst crimes against humanity in all of history. On the other hand, the survivors and victims of the Holocaust prove the strength of humanity in the face of evil. Even when they are chained by the colored badges on their uniforms and are suffering the worst tortures imaginable, they did not all lose faith. The victims banded together and depended on each other and on God to survive, which is reflected in the religious memorials in the back of Dachau. These ultimate survival stories give me hope. If hundreds of thousands of people were able to trust God to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, I can overcome anything I can set my mind to. My problems are much less significant than those who were prisoners of Dachau, but I can learn from their inner strength and courage and apply it to my life. Good outlasts evil, faith outlasts hopelessness, and love outlasts hate. All we have to do is depend on and trust in each other, and we will overcome.

Dandelions

 

“There are other things you can eat. First there are dandelions. You simply pull out the whole root, shake off the soil and stick the whole thing in your mouth. Unfortunately there are only a few of them at our work site.”
-Jean Bernard, prisoner in Dachau concentration camp from 1941-1942.

 

I have never been one to take a lot of pictures within a museum. Occasionally I will snap a picture of the room as a whole if I find it striking, but not usually many individual pictures of boards, paintings, or even sculptures. But this time was different.
We arrived at Dachau concentration camp early in the morning and rain was in the forecast. We all split off on separate paths and entered the gates of the camp. The museum was to our right, which contained artifacts and the history of the camp, and the barracks and crematorium to the left. I chose to enter the museum first. The museum was located in the old maintenance center of the concentration camp. When I entered the building, I felt a physical weight fall over me. Learning about concentration camps at home and now actually being in one are two vastly different things I came to find out. I wandered through the rooms, trying to put myself into the shoes of the prisoners, although I could never even come close to understanding, who would first enter the camp through the exact room I was standing in. I read every bit of information I could, trying to process all that was being thrown at me. Halfway through the museum, I read a quote on one of the boards, not a rarity seeing as I was reading literally everything. But for some reason, I felt compelled to take my phone out and take a picture of this quote; the only quote I took a picture of out of the entire museum. It was in simple black and white font, and barely took up any space on the gigantic wall. If you weren’t looking closely, you may even miss the quote completely. But this is the one I chose to take a picture of.

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I continued walking through the museum and when I was done I walked outside into the center of the camp, feeling almost numb to all the information I had just read. I sat on a step right outside and my gaze was focused on the ground, reflecting on the museum. I got up and was about to make my way across the main center to the barrack, but I stopped when I noticed something. Dandelions. Tons of them. The sign of hope for hungry prisoners was once nonexistent within the camp and now there were dandelions scattered everywhere throughout the grass surrounding the camp. I felt a feeling of fate as the only picture I had taken within in the museum was a quote about dandelions. Chills went up my spine. What touched me the most was how it comes to represent hope. Those trapped within the concentration camp had to hold on to any sign of hope they could, and today hope remains. The hope is that something this hateful and atrocious will never occur again. But there is also fear in that hateful things consistently occur/are said in the world today. As I looked around, I observed everyone else visiting the camp. I had hope that everyone there was educating themselves to ensure that history does not come full circle. I had hope that everyone there respected the horrific acts that had occurred. What terrified me was the amount of people who showed blatant disrespect for the grounds of the camp. It sent a different kind of chill up my spine, the chill of terror, that the Holocaust may be disappearing in the minds of some. I walked along the dandelion filled grounds and walked in the barracks and the crematorium, which was extremely difficult to say the least. But everywhere I looked dandelions, my new sign of hope, was scattered where I walked.

 

After the we left the camp, we all sat in silence not knowing exactly how to put our feelings into words. But there was a comfort in simply being together, even without words being spoken. This shows exactly how bonded we all have become. Munich in general has definitely been a turning point in the relationships built on this trip. Even Dachau created so much conversation regarding religion and salvation and how it is often in conflict with the Holocaust. These are the exact conversations that create bonds that simply cannot be recreated. There have been hard and (very) hangry days, as well as days filled with laughter and spontaneity. My team in Munich, Hohenschwangau, even jumped into a freezing cold river with quite a swift current. Waking up that morning, I could have never seen myself jumping into a freezing river in Munich, but that is exactly where I ended up. My team was absolutely incredible and exploring Munich would not have been the same without them.

 

Hope is everywhere. It is in our everyday lives, relationships, and even the unexpected.
Munich, you were absolutely amazing.