Out of all of my friends that I have made while in Cork, I've discovered that I'm the only one who isn't Irish so it was nice to be able to explore my heritage while in Germany. We took a train from Zurich to Munich which lasted about 4 hours and was actually very comfortable and easy to sleep on. After checking into our hostel, we headed to the Hofbrauhaus Brewery and indulged in traditional German pretzels and steins of beer. Everyone who went to Oktoberfest spent their weekend in the Hofbrauhaus tent so we knew that was the brewery that we wanted to go to. We walked around the Marienplatz square and the Christkindle Christmas Market for a couple hours that night before heading back to the hostel to get some sleep.
We woke up early the next morning and caught a train to the nearby town of Dachau where the Dachau Concentration Camp was ran during World War II. The concentration camp was actually started for political prisoners who went against Hitler and then held Jews and others deemed unacceptable by Hitler when he started invading countries. There were over 40,000 known murders, but they expect that there were thousands more due to so many people dying on arrival before they were able to be registered into the camp. The entrance gate into the camp has "Work sets you free" inscribed, but our guide said that most prisoners knew that this was the Nazis mocking them and that their death was considered their "freedom". There is a strip of grass that runs along the edge of the camp separating the prisoners from the barbed wire. The prisoners were told that the grass was a neutral zone, but if they were to step one foot on the grass a guard would shoot them from the guard tower. Our guide told us that oftentimes a guard would throw their hat into the grass and tell a prisoner they would be shot if they didn't get it for them, but when they would step into the grass to get it a guard would shoot them anyways. Only one person ever escaped from the camp in all of the years that it was a working camp and he says that he just got lucky. The Dachau camp was the first concentration camp of its kind and was used as a model for all camps to follow. Even though more than 40,000 people died there, it wasn't considered a death camp because they didn't "intentionally" kill the prisoners or use the gas chamber. Our guide told us that the only known time the gas chamber was used was when the camp Doctor wanted to test it out to see how it works, but no one knows how many lives were lost in the chamber at the expense of his curiosity. We were able to see the original crematorium and then saw all of the newer furnaces that were added when the original furnace wasn't able to keep up with the amount of dead bodies that needed to be cremated. It is an incredibly sad and humbling tour, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It is unimaginable how something so horrible happened only 20 minutes outside of such an industrialized city like Munich.
The next morning we took the metro to another side of the city and toured the 1972 Summer Olympic Stadium. We were able to see the swimming pool and the stadium where all the track and field events took place. We also were able to learn about the terrorist hostage attack by the Palestinians kidnapping 11 Israeli athletes who all died in a rescue mission gone wrong. After the stadium, we toured the BMW museum. It was a really cool and innovative museum, but definitely would have been more interesting if I knew anything about cars. We ended the night walking around the Christmas market more and trying the traditional German bratwursts before heading back to our hostel to get some sleep before we left early the next morning for Prague.