Tag Archives: concentration camp victims

A Pilgrimage to Dachau

 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Sunday, I made pilgrimage to the Concentration Camp at Dachau outside of Munich. I took the S-Bahn, a local commenter train from the Ostbahnhof near the hotel I am staying at to Dachau. Then I walked the approximately two and a half miles from the Dachau Bahnhof to the camp, following the same route as the  men and women, Gentile and Jew, that arrived at the camp following its establishment in 1933.

The weather suited the occasion, while not cold at all, there was cloud cover, sometimes thin enough to let a little bit of the sun shine through. As I walked down the streets I noted that many were named for victims who were either imprisoned at Dachau, or later killed at the camp, or sent to Auschwitz, Buchenwald, or other places where they were murdered.

Dachau was initially established as an extrajudicial place of incarceration and punishment shortly after Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933, by the local Munich Nazi Party and its SS under control of the Nazi Police President of Munich, Heinrich Himmler. The first prisoners were political prisoners transferred from the Stadelheim prison in Munich, and the Landsberg prison not too far away. However, under the initial administration of Hilmar Wäkerle, managed to engage in practices so disgusting that Himmler relieved him and placed Theodor Eicke in charge. Eicke, was certainly cruel, but he insisted on controlled violence against the prisoners. Under his command the camp became the model for all other concentration camps, and many of his subordinates went on to command some of the worst of them. The rules for guards and prisoners alike became the regulations for all concentration camps.

The cynical motto that Eicke placed at the gate of Dachau, “Arbeit Macht Frei”  found its way to the notorious camp at Auschwitz, under the command of Rudolf Höss who had served under Eicke at Dachau.

While not a “death camp” per say, an estimated 30,000 prisoners were murdered there and tens of thousands of others sent to the death factories in Poland, including Auschwitz.

Unlike the past I did not go to the museum. Instead I walked, meditated, and remembered the evil perpetrated at Dachau and the other camps. Of course there were many people from all over the word there. Some were on guided tours, others  using the mobile device for tours, but there was a certain respect for the dead and what happened at Dachau that I have seen at many of America’s historic sites, including Gettysburg.

I will continue to walk, remember, and bear witness even as the perpetrators, victims, and bystanders of the times pass away. In fact I need to get back to work on that book and my proposal to my agent for it.

Tomorrow is already here for us in Munich, so I wish you a good evening.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, holocaust, nazi germany

Rest Recovery and Reaction- Thoughts on Returning Home

The events of the past week have been a blur.  The trip was non-stop action with a lot of stress built in.  I am thankful that I was able to get a few moments to catch up with my brother and old friends over a couple of beers.  The day on the links was really enjoyable.  The pain of my sunburn is slowly going away.  I hope to get out a couple of times in the near future here.  If I actually play more than once a year I might actually be pretty good.

I have received much support from my friends and for this I am grateful. To know that one is not alone in times like these is a great comfort.

I found that I still have some of my PTSD reactions to noise light and crowds, especially in airports or crowded airplanes.  I get anxious and can actually feel the anxiety.  When I get trapped in a big crowd in a confined place it is really noticeable.

I wrote something else over the past few days regarding the way people on the political right and left use and abuse the military and veterans.  I’ve been stewing about it after the remarks of a prominent former elected official about a retired General with a distinguished record last week.  I’ve put off publishing it because I want to make sure that when I do it that I haven’t said something that will piss everyone off.  I’m sure that there will be some who take offense, especially when I criticize certain media personalities who are iconic.  I want people to see that it is wrong to in one sentence to praise the military and in the next criticize it when either the institution or members of the institution active or retired disagrees with their agenda, no matter what it is.  I have been pleased with President Obama protecting our troops by blocking the release of photographs which the ACLU wanted published.  Of course he realized that the photos could only put our troops in danger and inflame an already volatile region.  Likewise he is continuing to increase the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps and has halted the reductions in the Navy and Air Force.  I think he gets the picture and is looking out for us.  I do not know when or if I will publish that article but I am going to hold off on it at least for a while.  I have become a lot more prudent about such things than I was in times past.  That being said I don’t care if the person being an ass and treating honorable men who serve faithfully in a shabby manner are liberals or conservatives.  If they want to criticize honorable men who have served the country faithfully in peace and war and they have never served I will not hesitate to call them on it.  My brotherhood with those who have served is deeper than any political party. I don’t serve Red States and Blue States but the United States.  I’m tired of people who use their influence in the media to stir up hatred and discontent and question the manner of how we do the jobs they send us to do.   Likewise for them to  question our honor and integrity, especially when most of them have never served a day in uniform is way below the belt.  May the Deity Herself preserve this miscreant Priest.  To quote Colonel Nathan R Jessup in A Few Good Men:

“Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? … We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

Peace, Steve+

Post Script:  I didn’t get to recover last night.  About midnight I had to take Judy to the ER.  She is not one to usually need to do this but she developed some kind of infection that was keeping her from swallowing and possibly threatening her airway.  After a bunch of IV antibiotics, steriods, pain meds and a CT scan they decided not to admit her, though that was a near run thing. She should be fine but I didn’t get home until 0400.  To those not in the military or Germans that means Mickey’s Big hand is on the 4 and his little hand on the 12. Following this I had to go to the DMV to replace my license plates which had been stolen off my car from in front of my house.  This was not the way I thought the return would be.  God bless and thanks for the kind words, thoughts and prayers. Peace, Steve+

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Filed under alzheimer's disease, Military, PTSD