Sunday, August 26, 2012

Berowne's 132

(Also for Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "G" is for "Gemuetlichkeit")
The prompt this week reminded me of the German word “Gemuetlichkeit”…
A word that, freely translated, can mean a sort of coziness; for example, a room in a home that induces a calm mood and peace of mind.
I found a town like that when I was making a film in Munich, back in the sixties. I had hired a very capable young woman to act as translator, facilitator, production assistant, etc. Once I asked her where in Munich she lived and she said she didn’t live in Munich, she lived in Dachau.
That brought me up short. Do people live in Dachau? It was as though someone had said "I live in Auschwitz." I was to learn that Dachau is a very pleasant, Gemuetlichkeitish sort of town, just north of Munich. That is what it is today and that’s what it was in the darkest days of the famous concentration camp.

It was in 1933 that Nazi bigwigs chose this village as the location for the very first of their concentration camps. Over the years, until 1945, it was a place where some 42,000 people were killed.
I asked my production assistant if I could visit; I’d love to explore Dachau. She volunteered to show me around.
Dachau is indeed a pleasant town, with a history that goes back more than 1,200 years. A hundred years or so ago it was an art center, famous for its impressionist painters.

But right down the road is this ghastly death factory. It’s still there. My assistant told me that, well after the war’s end, when she was in grammar school, there was a referendum that became a national affair: What should be done about the Dachau concentration camp? Should it be destroyed, all traces obliterated? Or should it be kept as a memorial to those who died there?
They have kept it as a memorial. You can visit it. It lives up to expectations; it is a powerful, moving experience.
Here’s a picture of some of the camp inmates, joyfully greeting the American troops who liberated them.
At this point I’d like to post a photo that I think is fascinating. One day in the thirties or forties a man who lived in Dachau took a picture from his window. I don’t know if he was pro or anti-Nazi. (I imagine taking such a photo was a rather dangerous thing to do.)

It shows a solid mass of people being herded along the main street of the town, heading toward the camp, just down the road, where so many of them would die. This must have happened a great many times over the twelve years of the camp’s existence.
If you visit the Dachau camp I’m sure you’ll be moved, as I was, by the phrase at the entrance – a phrase in five languages.
“NEVER AGAIN.”
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

57 comments:

Irish Gumbo said...

Fascinating what light can inspire. This taps into a current in the Wyeth painting that I sensed: a room with a fireplace, a tray with what appears to be fruit, curios, all of these 'cosy' things belied by the sepia coldness of the painter's light. Your take on it is possessed of a quiet power, subtle but inescapable.

Grace said...

I must visit the place one time. I can imagine the ghosts and blood spilled during this terrible times. Never again ~

Jinksy said...

Another sobering post! Tess does seem to choose pictures which bring out the darker side of life...
But 'Never' should have been the operative word, let alone 'never again'

Tigerbrite said...

Eloquent and moving.

Roger Owen Green said...

'Never again,' and yet it happens again and again, somewhere in the world...

kaykuala said...

A page of history opened up. Cruelty of man to other men had been painful. Thanks for sharing!

Hank

Linda said...

Lest we forget....

Oppression of people by a state continues today, in parts of the world, on a smaller scale. In my opinion, it is never okay for any reason. Perhaps one day we will be human enough to respect others and value life. Thank you for sharing this reminder, Berowne.

jabblog said...

Never again - though it happens still, in other regimes, in other countries. Very moving, Berowne.

Sandra said...

I certainly hope "never again". I have seen documentary and read books and seen movies about this, but I can even imagine how it would feel being there where it happened. thanks for your comment tody

Ritva said...

Thank you for reminding us, Berowne.

Berowne said...

And my thanks to all of you for such fine comments...

Kathe W. said...

Thank you for this moving post -especially the photo of the Jews walking down the road. I still cannot believe what happened and how the world stood by for awhile before finally doing something.
It took Pearl Harbor for us to be involved.
Never again - we have to remind ourselves that it could happen again.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I have visited there, the impression remains strong within me thirty years later. One could still sense the shadow of death in that place, while life went calmly on at the gasthaus in town.

Tess Kincaid said...

Thank you for the introduction to the lovely word Gemuetlichkeit...touching post, Mr. B...

Wayne Pitchko said...

this is very good...well done and thanks for sharing your words

Brian Miller said...

man i can hardly imagine...visiting the museum in washington rocked me to the core....

Lyn said...

Never Again..as if. The last photo is mythical...
What was done,thanks for not letting us forget.

Berowne said...

Lyn: "Mever again...as if."
I fear you may be right.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Strange that a cosy picture should remind you of a very un-cosy time. All very vivid.

Ginny Brannan said...

"Absolutely "Never again!" The herding of the Jews, the atrocities that took place at these camps perpetrated by the warped visions of a madman. May we never forget, may it never happen again. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kutamun said...

Thanks Berowne, it is true, the empty room can be an abysmal experience, until some light comes to fill it. It always amazes me that all that killimg was instigated by a gay , socialist , vegetarian artist . Go figure.

Helen said...

Pure magic, the way you were able to weave the painting, the word, the photographs with your true story. I am overwhelmed.

Little Nell said...

In some ways that picture of the doomed people shuffling down the street being 'snapped' by a villager from his presumably 'gemütlich home', is the most disturbing. We've seen images of the camps after liberation many times and perhaps have become numbed by them, but this clandestine photograph brings new chills.

Berowne said...

I agree, Little N. That pic struck me as one of the most unusual I had seen of that era.

Berowne said...

Helen: "I am overwhelmed."
What a comment! Usually the most I ever get are a couple of readers who are just whelmed. :-)

Karen S. said...

Oh surely one can only hope that the ghosts are at ease today, after such heartships...your post was very moving, and deeply felt. Amazing how life can have such beauty and painful evil in the same space....long live life.....and goodness for all.

De said...

This is so powerful.

Berowne said...

Karen S: "Your post was very moving, and deeply felt."
As, indeed, was your comment - thanks so much.

Sue said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. Can you imagine seeing such a view from your window?

Unbelievable.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for this reminder of what we as humans are capable of.

Anna :o]

Yvonne Osborne said...

Moving photos. Thanks for taking me along. Though one doesn't have to go that far to find such sobering images. A great deal of courage indeed to stand up against the machine.

izzy said...

Very brave to visit. I would be in tears from beginning to end...thanks.

Roy Schulze said...

You ABC entry this week, oddly enough, shares some of the same themes as mine—film, horror, and a visit to Germany—but as usual, whereas yours is profound, mine is flip. But then your generation was the greatest, and mine the most cynical.

photowannabe said...

I have to admit that I never thought of Dachau as anything but a hideous place of death.
Fascinating post. Thank you for posting it.

joanne said...

neither did I....ever think of Dachau as anything but a horror - never a place where ordinary citizens lived through a nightmare not of their own creation...and that good people still inhabit this lovely town...thanx

Carrie Burtt said...

Such a tragedy....thank you for taking us back to something that should not be forgotten.

ds said...

Very powerful stuff, sir. That photo is...inexpressible.
Thank you.

Margaret said...

I recently visited the museum in Washington DC and highly recommend it to everyone. So many people tell me they couldn't go to such a place and see the sadness, the horror and I get so annoyed. I have read many moving books on WWII and the Holocaust, the latest being "Sarah's Keys". It's the type of read that helps form one's inner core...

The photo from the window FASCINATED me! And there are people out there that don't believe it happened! Thank you for this moving post. I too only thought of horror when I heard Dachau.

Berowne said...

Margaret: "The photo from the window FASCINATED me!"
Yes, it struck me the same way...

rallentanda said...

Very interesting post. Plus jamais let us hope. So many must have seen the nightmare from the window in the reign of terror.

Linda Jacobs said...

A very moving post. Made me choke up.

Vaishali Jain said...

I was a bit oblivious of this part of history. Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

Powerful story, I hope it doesn't get repeated. Still many have to learn from history and this is one of them.

christopher said...

This is the world. Just like this. And it is interesting that the three words Thom chose this week for Three Word Wednesday lead one into the outlaw side of things. However, the horror of Dachau resides in the bureaucratic center of the whole thing. It was so completely organized, tracked, managed, just like any other successful government or business endeavor. Now that is true evil.

Ann said...

The marching prisioners is a truly chilling photo, my heart is heavy seeing them. I am pleased they kept the camp as a reminder of the evil that produced such a place. When you hear Dachau it's hard to imagine a quaint place to live today.
Ann

Sheilagh Lee said...

thank you for sharing this.This should never be forgotten or repeated.

Lmkazmierczak said...

You continue to impact us with your life experiences... Fascinating post♪

Berowne said...

Lmkazmierczak: "You continue to impact us with your life experiences."
I'm humbly grateful if they're of interest - thanks.

Carola said...

Thanks for your visit.
Thanks for your great reminder with some very special photos.
How to start? I visited Dachau as a teenager (you know I'm German). The cruelty from this brutal people, inhuman, is imposssible to put in words. Shocking! An experience I will never forget. Everybody should see this.
In 2008 we visited with our children the former concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria. Smaller, but cruel as no one can imagine. To walk around in this death maschine is unbelievable shocking, sad.
Some photos I have to show on my blog.
I don't have the right words in english. Just hundred meters away from the entrance is a Gasthof and farm, and we were allowed to pitch our tent there. Our thoughts: How could they have lived here all the time so close to?

Nie wieder - Never again!

Gemütlichkeit ? ! Maybee it is the right word to this one photo, looking out of the window and watching the prisoners walk by. It has a bad sound in this context. Everybody just looking for there own comforts, don't care about the bad around?

Gemütlichkeit, as I understand it normally, is something nice and cosy. This is a warning: don't get caught in it. The live around us is more important.

Berowne said...

Wonderful comments, Carola. Thanks so much.

˙·٠•●❤Sh@KiR@ ❤●•٠·˙ said...

Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to explain. I learn a lot today.
Auf Wiedersehen
Mine is here
Have you an AWESOME WEEK!
hugs
shakira

RMP said...

I had the opportunity (just out of college) to visit Europe. One of the stops was a concentration camp. It was one of the most profound experiences.

I imagine the decision (tare it down or let it stand in memory) was a hard one to make. Lovely write.

~T~ said...

Very interesting. Thanks!

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