Germany 1. Dachau concentration camp

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In February of 2019 I went to Munich Germany to meet my friend.    There was several places I wanted to see and also to go from Munich southwards to some other places towards Switzerland.

While in a youth hostel in Munich I was recommended to visit Dachau.    As the name of this blog suggests, I lived in Jerusalem Israel for a few years.   I’ve worked with Jewish people in Israel and in the UK for a good while.    I took a train that 30 mins from Munich and another 2km to this place wondering how do I prepare myself to see a terrible act of wholesale murder mainly aimed at one particular religious group.

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Dachau was the first of all the Nazi concentration camps.   I only got maybe 1 1/2 hours here as I had to an appointment to see my friend at for lunch so I didn’t see all of it.  I’ve been to Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem a few times to see the grand scale of tragedy inflicted on Jewish people during WWII.   This was a bit different as it was up close.

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I thought as well as Dachau, Auschwitz, and a couple of other places in Poland, just these were the main centres of death by the Nazis.    I was wrong, this map here shows more like a couple of hundred places of Hitler’s infrastructure of industrial-scale murder.

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“work makes you free”

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What are the hoists above the ovens?   Maybe its better I didn’t know.

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Copies of monuments from different parts of Europe and Israel.    There were school children on a trip here.    A chilling reminder needed this should never ever happen again.

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  1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. Neuschwanstein Castle – 4. 1972 Munich Olympics village.

 

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Holocaust remembrance day

At work, we were asked to stop for a few minutes when the siren goes off to remember the six million who perished in the holocaust, so me and some colleagues walked about 200 yards into the centre of town.

Just 10 minutes from my office is Zion Square, a junction between Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Street, which more recently is now completely car free, just an electric rail system passes through.

People just stop what they are doing, when the siren goes off.

In other parts of the country, people stopped their cars in the middle of the highway and stood on the road with doors open.

The noise is a chilling drone, probably coming from two directions, aimed mainly at alerting the public if a threat of war necessitates people needing to get into a bunker.   Its an awful noise, but serves as a reminder of the worse tragedy in history.

 

 

 

Yad Vashem uses Google to document the holocaust

I have always been a big admirer of Google, they always have exciting projects on the go, I like the fact they are the most innovative company on the planet, driven by creativity, leveraging a vast number of talented people to make all kinds of large records accessible to everyone previously not possible.

One of the ugly sides of the internet is hate groups.  Quite a significant amount of this is antisemitism, and quite a significant portion of antisemitism is holocaust denial.

Google are now inviting those who had family lost or survived the holocaust to submit pictures and data to this site as a big collaborative project, to stop history from being forgotten or revised, especially as the number of people survived this ordeal are getting few.   Google use a fair bit of their own OCR software to turn scanned text into searchable data.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/explore-yad-vashems-holocaust-archives.html

Caesarea revisited

On the away trip with the staff of the charity I volunteer for, we first stopped off at Caesarea.

I have blogged on this place before but only very briefly, really only touching on the theatre which hosts live music and TV shows today, this time I got to see this place in a bit more detail.

The museum park is mostly outdoors and is a beautiful place to visit.  It is probably the most important piece of Roman history in the Middle East.

This sign shows how the harbour looked like:

Here you can see only a portion of the harbour is still here, the rest disappeared into the sea, although not so much through war, actually it happened by earthquake.


Today there is some flags out as a sign of countries in battle – this time the world cup football.

By the way the name ‘Palestine’ was invented by the Roman emperor Hadrian long before any Arab people populated this land.  Caearea was built by Herod, but there are signs here showing it was inhabited by Greeks, Crusaders and Muslims.

Outside a cafe at this place I ordered a hot dog with some french fries and sat outside.  The elderly man who ran the cafe had a strong New York accent brought out some pizza to one of my friends at the table and I noticed a small green tattoo on the man’s arm, not a particularly interesting design but when I went up to get some mustard I saw it again, it was about six numbers.   This was the unmistakable sign the Nazis used on Jewish prisoners in the holocaust camps, where as most people were rapidly slaughtered in the gas chambers not long after they had arrived by train, the ones with the tattoos tended to be those that were younger that were deemed suitable for working in the camp in unspeakable conditions.   Still today there are people who try to revise history and say it never happened. I would imagine the man is probably Polish and moved to the US in late 1940s and came to Israel not so long ago.  On one of the other tables he got chatting to one of the other staff, I didn’t hear what was said apart from he said he was from New York.   Its a sobering thought that history has come full circle, as the Nazis closely modeled themselves on the Romans to some degree and now as this small fragment of the Middle East is now owned by Jews again and some of them have reminders of tragedies gone by.

There are two films that can be watched in separate screens that show how Caesarea was restored by archeologists as you can see today.  Some other people on our trip went to scuba diving as there are parts of the ruins that can only be seen underwater.

People fishing, although I think this sign probably says you aren’t supposed to.

It perhaps doesn’t ‘go’, but I really like this wooden Caribbean style bar :o)

Current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lived here in the town and so did Russian-Israeli Billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak who used to own football clubs in Jerusalem and Portsmouth UK, its incredible this location has changed hands through so many people.

This is an absolutely must see for any visitor to the holy land.

I will cover the Kibbutz where I stayed next…

Holocaust memorial day / 62nd anniversary of Israel

This week in Jerusalem has been important week for two reasons.   One is holocaust memorial day.   This mean a war siren sounded, and people just stopped what they were doing in the middle of the street.  Cars just suddenly stopped in the middle of the road.  After a minute or two everything just carried on as normal.

Each year not only Israel but many nations remember how the terrible tragedy of many men, women and children lost their lives in concentration camps in Europe, mostly Jews, but also disabled, homosexual and Romany people were killed in a meticulously planned death assembly line by the million.   People should today should remember this event and be vigilant that it should not happen again.   With frequent hateful rhetoric spoken by nations like Iran, it should be taken seriously there are still people with an aim to destroy and should be stopped.   Having peace talks with the Islam republic of Iran, is like trying to stroke and make friends with a huge aggressive dog with toothache, its just not possible.   Also despicable is holocaust denial, especially when it comes sometimes from the church occasionally.

The other event of course, is the 62nd anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel, I went to Gan Sacher Park today with some friends from church and had a barbeque and played a kind of unusual variation of volleyball which was fun.   Interestingly enough was some people giving away Tshirts for free (they only had children’s sizes left)  this was a freebie from the government but logos also on showing it was sponsored by a local car rental business.  I didn’t realise how big this event was, as I missed out on some fireworks and entertainment out in the city centre the night before.   But some enterprising people took advantage of the thousands of people out in the parks and provided snacks and food for sale, including a rather novel mobile candy floss machine on a trolley which had a petrol generator underneath running it!