The building where Kristallnacht was planned.

The building where Kristallnacht was planned.

I’m telling you, I had quite the day yesterday. Besides spending half the day traveling between my apartment in Wiesbaden and the train station in Munich, I mean. That was just a pain in the butt, as well as a strain on my wallet (I will not be traveling for the next few weeks because of it most likely).

Well, let’s skip over the long, mostly uneventful train rides, and get right into my day in Munich. I got there a bit before noon despite several delays along the way and managed to grab a bite to eat and some extra water before meeting up with Taff Simon, my tour guide. Taff, a Welsh archaeologist who works on WWII-related sites when not in the midst of giving people tours (and whom I highly recommend for a tour if you’re interested in WWII stuff), was the best tour guide. Since we both were well-versed in Nazi history, he didn’t have to spend a lot of time filling me in on basic Nazi history. Instead, he took me to various locations around the city that had Nazi history attached to them.

For example, our very first stop was the place where Kristallnacht was thought up. Yeah, that place still exists, it’s an old, church-like building with two arched tunnels built into it for through-traffic. Kristallnacht was thought up during a dinner party for the fifteenth anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch being held inside. To this day there are memorials in one of the tunnels commemorating what had happened.

The coffee shop where Hitler would come up with his speeches. The Devil's Column is in the back.

The coffee shop where Hitler would come up with his speeches. The Devil’s Column is in the back.

I also got to see the places where the German Worker’s Party, the forerunner of the Nazi Party, met, as well as the meeting place of the Thule Society and the building where the SS was founded. We also visited the spot where the Beer Hall Putsch was stopped by police and an alleyway that was used to avoid the memorial that would later be set up there and became pretty famous consequently. We also visited a few beer gardens that had some history with the Nazis (though no one likes to admit it), including the Hofbraushaus, where Hitler would often give speeches after writing them in a coffeehouse down the street (to this day, the column in that shop he’d sit next to while preparing his speeches is known as The Devil’s Column).

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The Hofbrauhaus, where Hitler gave some of his speeches in Munich.

Really, one of the big things you take away from this tour of Munich is that Nazism really was born here. This was the city where the German Worker’s Party grew and evolved into its more terrifying form that we know so well today, where major events shaping the party took place, where the Thule met and where the SS was born. You even see pieces of that history today, not just in memorials but in buildings and architecture, in pieces of art, and just in the stories told about certain places. It’s quite fascinating.

Taff also took me to the University District of Munich, and brought me to the place where the White Rose, a small resistance group that operated during the early forties, would distribute leaflets hoping to get their fellow students and intelligentsia to resist the Nazis. To this day there are stone copies of their leaflets embedded in the courtyard in front of the medical school and memorials to the group within for their heroism and martyrdom.

He also took me around that area of town, showing me a building where the Nazis used to hold offices and where Hitler signed the 1937 “peace accords”, a square with Greco-Roman buildings set up where rallies were held, the remains of a temple decided to the people who died on the night of the Putsch, and quite a few others. Believe me, when he showed me the building where the Gestapo used to be headquartered, I had a bit of a chill.

One of the stone leaflets in memory of the White Rose.

One of the stone leaflets in memory of the White Rose.

By the end of the tour we ended up back where we started, in the square near the building where Kristallnacht had been planned. As I was hot and nursing a small headache by that time, I thanked Taff for showing me all that I described above and more and asked him to send me information of any future tours he might be doing (including one about some rather gruesome witch hunts and other nastiness that had happened in the city). Taff also directed me to the Hugendubel, a five-floor bookstore that had several books on Nazism and Munich’s history within its walls. I bought a very large tome and headed home after that, feeling like I had definitely made the most of my weekend.

All in all, it was a very exciting and edifying tour. I took somewhere between sixty and seventy-five photos in total, most of which I deemed good enough to send to myself (uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is going to be a pain in the ass). I also got to see locations I didn’t know existed, let alone were still standing, and I felt like I was getting to step right into history thanks to Taff’s expertise and storytelling. And I got to see the city of Munich, which in itself is just wonderful.

The old headquarters of the Gestapo. Actually took a step back in fear when I found out what it was. You can guess why.

The old headquarters of the Gestapo. Actually took a step back in fear when I found out what it was. You can guess why.

And I even got some help with my writing here. As you can imagine, I’ve got plenty of ideas for stories that involve World War II and the Holocaust, including a book series I plan to write someday that I think could be my Dark Tower series (though probably not as complicated). Going to Munich yesterday certainly helped to give me a sense of what living back then was like and helped flesh out the setting for those stories, and I even had an idea for a new short story based on the info Taff told me.

It was just a wonderful trip and I’m glad I went. I’lm definitely going to try to do another post or two about my day in Munich, one showing some more of the photos I took and one about some of the really cool souvenirs I got from the city (trust me, that’s worth doing another post about).

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to get off the computer and get some other work done. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, my Followers of Fear.

And if any of you are ever in Munich and want to go on a tour like I did, I highly recommend giving Taff Simon a call. He’s a great guy, he knows what he’s talking about, and you’ll definitely come away feeling it was worth the trip.Here’s the link to his website if you’re interested.

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Comments
  1. segmation says:

    Is it a little scary to be in Germany for you. I think it would be for me. By the way, we have moved and we are now. http://segmation.com/blog/

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