Archive for the ‘Tales from Abroad’ Category

Today is my last day in Germany. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been here for four months; it feels more like I’ve been here for ages. The day I arrived, all the way back in July, feels like it happened years and years ago. Heading home to Columbus feels almost a little weird. Almost like I’m heading to a place that only exists in my memories. I know that sounds weird, but after being away from home for longer than I’ve ever been before (the record before this was five weeks in Israel back in high school), that’s what it feels like.

I am looking forward to coming home to Columbus.* It’s where my family is, and where I’ve spent a majority of my life. It’s familiar, it’s got a lot of people I know. And our football team is undefeated this season, which is always something to be proud of. Go Buckeyes!

Still, I will miss being here in Germany. I’ve become so used to this nation, it’s become something like a really nice foster home for me. Every day there was something new to learn or see, and I got to go to all these wonderful places while I was here. Germany is filled with such history, and I was lucky to be able to explore that history in so many ways, from traveling to the many WWII-related sites in Munich to a Roman wall in Wiesbaden and everything in-between. I even got to see a castle, something no trip Europe is complete without. No matter what the cost, it was worth going out to see all these things.

The Roman Wall. I'm going to miss seeing stuff like this.

The Roman Wall. I’m going to miss seeing stuff like this.

And the people here are very awesome as well: more than once when I got turned around trying to get somewhere, I was able to find someone who was able to point me in the right direction. Even at the grocery store, people were more courteous than I could imagine: yesterday a woman at the grocery store saw I had just the one item (a bottle of wine for my dad and his wife), and she let me go right in front of her. I usually don’t get that even in the States, so I was very grateful for her kindness. When I heard reports about how Germany was the only European country willingly accepting refugees while other countries closed their borders, I wasn’t at all surprised, because that’s just the sort of country Germany is, a kind and accepting place where you can feel as welcome as you might in your own home.

Plus I got to watch Doctor Who several hours before my Whovian comrades in the Western Hemisphere, seeing as the show airs in Europe before it does over there. That was nice. I will miss that.

But yeah, I will miss Germany. My time here was well-spent and I learned and experienced so much, and one day I would like to return, see old friends and do some more exploring of the country if possible. If I could do that, I’d be one very happy horror novelist.

Here's looking at you, Germany.

Here’s looking at you, Germany.

So thank you Germany, for being my home away from home. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been here (even the more stressful minutes) and I can’t thank you enough for all you, your people, and the other guests who call your lands home have done for me. It has truly been a wonderful experience getting to know you firsthand. So auf wiedersehen, and I hope we can one day meet again.

Until that day comes though, you will be alive in my thoughts, my memories, and in my stories (horrifying as those are).

*And apparently Columbus is preparing for me to come home as well. Already the National Guard has been called out, people have been praying for salvation like mad. There’s even been strange activity reported amongst animals, like a bridge full of spiders (not kidding, it made the local news). I guess they know I plan on jumpstarting the Apocalypse, huh?

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So in five days I’ll be getting on a plane and heading home (cue the patriotic Neil Diamond music). Since my time in Germany is running out, I figured that I’d go over the highlights of my trip, the things I’ll remember and talk about for years to come.

And that will make their way into a story or two, because that’s what happens when you’re me. Everything is fodder for my dark, twisted imagination.

So here they are, the highlights of my time in Germany:

Working for the US Army

Me at the office.

Me at the office.

Obviously this has to come first. It’s the whole reason that I’m here in the first place. I got to work for three months in the US Army Civilian Corps, working in the Equal Employment Opportunity office on a variety of projects, including a few articles and newsletters. I gained a lot of experience that will no doubt help me with future jobs (can’t confirm anything on that front yet, but I do think good news is on its way). I also made a few friends while on base, and I got to experience firsthand what it’s like to live and work for the US Army. Sure it was only three months, but what a period of three months! You can definitely expect a story or several coming out of this experience.

Living in Germany

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a foreign country beyond a vacation of a couple of weeks. I got to do it for four months! And you know, it’s a lot of fun, as well as very educational. Sure, my German still sucks (though I find a lot of people here speak enough English for me to get by), but that didn’t get in the way too much. From trying the train and bus systems, to learning that bakeries here have a weird tolerance for letting flies or bees crawl over their food in the summer (yeah, I found it a little gross too), to even getting lost and learning to rely on the natives for directions, every week seemed to have some new adventure for me, and I can’t wait to tell everyone about some of those adventures I couldn’t talk about here in more detail, either in person or through stories.

My Trip to Munich

German silver mark from 1937. Cool, right?

German silver mark from 1937. Cool, right?

That was my first big trip in Germany. Before that I’d explored parts of Wiesbaden and made trips to Frankfurt and been to nearby Mainz once or twice, but this was really going out to see the country. And it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of being here in Germany, especially since visiting Munich was top of my list of things to do while in Germany. I was given a personal tour of Munich by a WWII scholar who showed me how Munich was such an essential part of the rise of Nazism and some of Nazi Germany’s most formative event. I had such a great time that day, and I would gladly do it again given the chance and maybe someone to share the experience with. In any case, I will have to look up my Holocaust Studies professor once I get back to Columbus and talk to her about my trip. I bet she’d be very interested in seeing some of my photos and souvenirs, including an actual German silver mark from 1937! Now having that is scholarly street cred right there.

For a fuller account of my trip to Munich, read my post here.

Seeing BABYMETAL in concert

BABYMETAL rocking it out in Frankfurt.

BABYMETAL rocking it out in Frankfurt.

If you have no idea who or what BABYMETAL is, they’re a Japanese pop-metal fusion band fronted by three teenage girls. Yes, it is kind of weird, but it is really awesome and they’re making tons of waves in the metal world (if you want to sample them and see what the big deal is, I highly recommend their Road of Resistance video). To say the least, I am a gigantic fan, and this was my second time seeing them in concert. The first time was at the Rock on the Range music festival in Columbus this past May, but they were on a smaller stage and allotted a shorter performance time, so it wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped. When I heard they were going to be in Germany while I was there, and that they’d be doing a full concert, I immediately got tickets to go.

And you know what? I had a blast! They did their whole repertoire (easily enough when you only have one album and a digital single) before a crowd of about a hundred and fifty people, and I just had the best time. I got really close to the stage by the end of the concert, which was good because in addition to tall fans seeing the show from several yards back is no fun, and I got to see a ton of the action up close. Honestly, when they played my favorite song, “Doki Doki Morning”, I nearly died from happiness. At the end of the concert, I felt drunk despite having not had a drop of alcohol all day, and couldn’t help but sing the tune to some of their songs for quite a while after the concert was over. It was just a magical night for me.

Me and my new friend Itamar.

Me and my new friend Itamar.

That concert was also special because, besides a T-shirt I got as a souvenir, I made a new friend at the concert, an Israeli named Itamar who had recently been discharged from the IDF and was traveling around Europe and going to BABYMETAL concerts whenever he could. To him, those concerts were fun and relaxing (considering my own experience and the studies that show heavy metal is a mood lifter for fans, plus the fact that plenty of the band’s songs feature positive messages, I didn’t find that too surprising). We started talking before the show started, realized we had a lot in common, including a thing for horror stories, and hit it off. After the show we found each other and promised to stay in contact, and he said he’d check out my books. The very next day we became Facebook friends. Isn’t that nice?

I also had a great idea for a novel while I was at the concert, but I think I’ll wrap up this entry in the list and say this was a big event for me and I had a ton of fun. And if I get the chance, I hope I can see BABYMETAL in concert again someday.

And I’m jamming out to them while I write this post, but does that surprise you in any way?

Wewelsburg Castle

Wewelsburg castle.

Wewelsburg castle.

A trip to Europe is not complete without a castle or two, in my opinion. Last year on my study abroad trip it was the Tower of London, and this year it was Wewelsburg Castle, a three-sided German castle in Paderborn that was once the seat of the local Prince-Bishop. During WWII, the SS used the castle as a training center, and some say it was also where they did mystical rituals meant to empower themselves as Aryan men (there’s both evidence to support and oppose this theory, but I wouldn’t discount it). Ever since last year when I did a paper on the connections between National Socialism and mysticism and I discovered the castle in my studies, I’ve wanted to check it out, and being able to do so on this trip was a very big deal for me. I learned a lot while I was there, and I even got a story idea while I was there. Wewelsburg is definitely a place I’d recommend anyone visiting Germany visit if they’re in the mood for seeing a castle with an interesting and dark history.

For a fuller account of my trip to the castle, you can read my post here.

German food and drink

Love that German beer!

Love that German beer!

Now, because I keep kosher and because I can’t read German, my access to German food was limited. Still, when I could have it, I found that it was pretty good. They definitely know how to make some tasty baked fish dishes, the Germans do. They use plenty of spices to give it flavor, I think.

And German beer and wine is definitely some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I know Germany is known for its beers, but the wine is pretty extraordinary too. In fact, Frankfurt and plenty of other German cities and provinces make a lot of money off wine, and there’s even a university in Frankfurt where they teach wine and beer making. If I wasn’t such a writer, I might consider applying to that school and started a winery or something.

Definitely don’t miss out on eating actual authentic German cuisine while you’re here. You’ll miss out on a central part of the country if you do.

And finally…

All the story ideas!

Last year when I was in Europe, I kept track of how many ideas I had while I was abroad and came up with 40 ideas. This year I did the same, and after four months and so many experiences, the amount of ideas I had was staggering. 81 ideas as of this past Saturday. Yeah, that’s a lot of ideas. Novels, short stories, articles, even a video game or two, inspired by anything from dreams to stories I read and shows or movies I watched, to all these experiences and several more experiences I had while in Germany. Yeah, it’s definitely been a good time for me creatively while I’ve been here. I just wonder when I’m going to write all these stories! Hopefully not never.

 

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I have to say, I’m going to miss Germany terribly. It’s been quite an experience while I was here, and I hope that maybe someday I can visit again, maybe see a few things I didn’t get the chance to see during my four months here (I probably would’ve seen more if I could, but time and money are always a factor in these sort of things). And who knows? Maybe in the future I’ll get that chance after all.

One can always hope. Right my Followers of Fear?

As you are probably already aware, I’ve been spending the past three months here in Wiesbaden, Germany, working as an intern at the US Army base here in the Army Civilian Corps, specifically in the Equal Employment Opportunity office (we handle stuff like equal rights for everyone and discrimination complaints and that sort of thing). It’s been a crazy, fun, exhausting, edifying adventure. I’ve been able to live in a really amazing European country–one taking proactive measures to help refugees in the current crisis, by the way (take that, Hungary! Nobody likes you right now!)–get some very valuable job experience, see some things I’ve only read about (SS castle of mysticism and the birthplace of Nazism, anyone?), and even learn a few words of a foreign language.

Plus seventy-something ideas for stories and articles and everything else creative too, by the way. That is something I’m very happy about!

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, as they must. And today was my last day working as an intern. Yep, today was the last day. Sad but true. Did some work in the morning, went with the folks from my office to a beergarten for a goodbye lunch to commemorate all the hard work I’d done, did some more work when we got back, met with a few people to discuss this and that, and then headed home. All told, it felt pretty quiet. I almost expected a somber air or something, just a heaviness in the atmosphere to signal that today was my final day working in that office. No, just a normal day, minus the fact that I’m not getting ready for bed at this point because I have an early morning tomorrow (yeah, I’m sleeping in!).

I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this possible. The folks from my office, for guiding me every step of the way, working so well with my quirky nature, and giving me lessons I’ll carry with me for years to come. My family and friends, for supporting me and being just a Skype call away when I needed them. The many people who helped me get into this internship in the first place, including Ohio State’s Office of Disability Services and the Workforce Recruitment Program, and especially the US Army for willingly taking in a budding horror novelist who proved with his mother that he has demonic abilities. And of course, I have to thank you, my Followers of Fear. No matter what mood I was in, you were there to support me and share in my triumphs and my failures.I can’t thank you enough for that.

Now, this is the part where I tell you my plans. Unfortunately, I can’t. You see, some opportunities have arisen for me here in Germany. I can’t say what they are at this point, though I can assure you that I’m not on tour with Taylor Swift as her live-in boy-toy or breaking into a haunted pizzeria with killer animatronics (if you got that reference, then you’re hip. If you didn’t, click here and get hip). What I can tell you is that these opportunities mean I have to stay in Germany a bit longer. So yeah, I won’t be flying back home at the end of the week. As things progress and we see what happens, I’ll let you know what’s going to happen.

For now though, know that I have some time to myself to clean the apartment, write and edit, and catch up on TV in between working on making the most of these opportunities.

That’s all at the moment. I’ve got stuff to do, so I’m going to do it. You have a good night, my Followers of Fear, and thanks again for giving me so much support and love. I couldn’t ask for a cooler audience.

Wewelsburg castle. Magnificent to behold.

Wewelsburg castle. Magnificent to behold.

Well, I finally did it! I got to visit the castle I’ve been dying to see since I first heard about it while researching Nazis and the occult prior to last year’s study abroad trip. And today, I spent a good part of my day uploading most of the photos I took to Instagram and Facebook. Honestly, it sucks when that ends up taking a longer time than it should, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Wewelsburg Castle, it’s a triangular castle in the small village of Wewelsburg, part of the town of Buren. During the Nazi era, the SS, led by Himmler, began doing renovations on the castle with the purpose of turning it into the ultimate Aryan production center, a place where the Nazis’ ideological beliefs could be made real. Some people even believe that Himmler, who was a big believer in all that Nazi mysticism stuff, conducted ceremonies in the castle, and hoped to make it into a sort of SS Hogwarts. I personally think that the SS could’ve been doing some magical rituals while they were there, and there is some evidence to suggest that’s what they were planning on doing or did there.

Of course, if you ask the museum staff about it, they will deny that anything like that occurred at the castle, but maybe they want to keep the right-wing nuts and the Satanists and pagans away (yet they still have a small display in the museum to the mystical side of the SS in the exhibit). The staff also deny any sightings of ghosts or anything else paranormal, but maybe they want to keep away ghost hunters too.

Weird occult stuff. Don't ask me what each stands for, I couldn't give you a definitive answer.

Weird occult stuff. Don’t ask me what each stands for, I couldn’t give you a definitive answer.

Anyway, the castle is divided into two permanent exhibits. One exhibit, the Ideology and Terror of the SS, is mostly housed in a separate building, with a path leading to the Crypt and the Group Leader’s Hall in the North Tower (more on that below). It’s very similar to the exhibit at the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin, which I visited last year: lots of white columns and display cases, with photos and artifacts talking about the history and the beliefs of the SS. Some of it was in English, but most of it obviously was in German, so I didn’t spend as much time there as I might have liked.

Still, it was interesting to be there. I got to see a lot of artifacts, including a few books on mysticism and some occult memorabilia, some uniforms, and a lot of other cool stuff. And at a certain point, you could walk along a footpath to the North Tower, where two of the rooms the SS renovated are available to look at (sadly, no photos are allowed in those areas). The Crypt is a dark and eerie space, and definitely had a ritual purpose, though not necessarily a magical one. The walls are covered with paintings of stylized depictions of victims of SS tyranny, as if to say that the space is now a memorial to them than to the SS and the Aryan man. On the floor above is the Group Leader’s Hall, which was incomplete at the end of the war and was probably meant to be a meeting room of some sort (but for what purpose?). The most interesting part of that room is that in the center of the room is a Black Sun symbol, which has both esoteric connotations and–because the SS used it as a symbol of power–neo-Nazi connotations. I stood on top of it as if to say, “Yeah, I’m Jewish and you’re worth shit.”

Entrance into the castle proper.

Entrance into the castle proper.

The other exhibit discussed the castle’s history, when it was the second home of the Prince-Bishops of Paderborn. You basically go throughout the whole castle–down hallways and up and down staircases–seeing its history from prehistory to the early 1900’s. That was interesting too. Part of the exhibit displayed what creatures lived in the area in the Ice Age or earlier, and another area talked about how important agriculture was to the area. In one room they had the actual road traders used displayed where it had been uncovered during renovations, and in another section there was a small tribute to the Jewish community that lived in the area. And in one part of the East Tower is a basement room where witches were kept and tortured during the one recorded set of witch trials in the area. Believe me, I’m definitely going to email those photos to my History of Witchcraft teacher in the morning.

The castle courtyard, facing the direction of the North Tower.

The castle courtyard, facing the direction of the North Tower.

At the end of it all, I had a really great time and was really glad I’d gone (though before I ended the tour of the castle I had to take off my coat because I was starting to get really warm from all the physical activity). It’s definitely going to be one of the highlights of my time here in Germany, and I took a lot of photos so that I’ll remember it long after I’ve left the country. I even had an idea or two for stories while I was there, and I bought a few books in the gift shop so that I’ll have plenty to reference should I ever need to look up some info. Definitely check out the castle if you ever get the chance. It’s well worth the trip.

Of course, I doubt this’ll be the last adventure I have in Germany. While my time here is becoming limited, there’s still one place I’d like to visit, and I think I might have the opportunity this coming weekend. Oppenheim is a town not too far from me, with an underground ossuary and labyrinth, which sounds a lot like the Paris catacombs, and they have a wine museum too. With Oktoberfest starting, sounds like the kind of place I could have a bit of fun before I say goodbye to Deutschland, don’t you think?

A model of the synagogue that used to be in the village, located in the small Jewish display in the castle.

A model of the synagogue that used to be in the village, located in the small Jewish display in the castle.

Well, I wanted to write more posts today (I’ve got plenty to write about), but it’s getting late and I’ve got an early morning tomorrow. I guess I’ll just say goodnight for now and see what I can post tomorrow.

Goodnight Followers of Fear! Pleasant nightmares!

Yesterday was the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I had the day off, but unfortunately no one could take me to the chaplain’s house that day, and while I tried to go to the nearest synagogue, I couldn’t find it even though it should’ve been in front of me (I found out later from the chaplain that you have to walk into the building where it should’ve been to find it. Otherwise it’s hidden behind businesses. Not sure why that is, but I’ll go with it). So with the day off and nowhere else to go, I decided to do what I promised to do my first week in Germany, and go explore some more of my temporary home.

If you head down to the Marktplatz on a Tuesday afternoon, certain areas will be busy while certain areas won’t be. The main plaza was pretty empty save for some pigeons, while further back you’ll find plenty of people strolling and shopping. It was into these back alleys I went, armed with a map and a general idea of where I was going. Needless to say, I got turned around more than once.

The smaller half of the Jewish Memorial in Wiesbaden.

The smaller half of the Jewish Memorial in Wiesbaden.

The first stop I went to was the Jewish Memorial in Wiesbaden, which was a pretty moving experience. The memorial stands where the old Michelsberg synagogue, which was a magnificent building with domes and spires that was destroyed during the war, used to be and is dedicated to the German Jews from Wiesbaden who died during the Nazi era. Today a road bisects the former grounds, so the memorial is split in half as well. The smaller part is an L-shaped, two story structure made from black stone, with a white display detailing in German and in English the purpose of the memorial. A small touch screen contains more information on the Jewish community of Wiesbaden (all in German unfortunately).

The second half, on the other side of the street, is much bigger. It’s in the shape of a giant rectangle with one side missing and along the walls, there’s a band where all the names of Wiesbaden’s Jews who were murdered during that period are listed. When I crossed the street, I felt the atmosphere change.

The larger, more emotional half of the Jewish memorial in Wiesbaden.

The larger, more emotional half of the Jewish memorial in Wiesbaden.

They say that certain places can hold certain emotions. I’m not sure if that’s true in this case, or if that was just my own associations affecting me, but the moment I got to the other side of the street, I suddenly felt very melancholy and started walking around the memorial, my hand running over the many names listed there. I found myself talking to the Jews listed there—I knew they probably couldn’t hear me, even if their souls were hanging around that space—but in that moment I talked, and I felt really sad because these people had lived and then had their lives violently and tragically ended, and their stories would never be known because the Nazis had done all they could to erase them. I cried a little while I was there, and I felt like something was with me in that memorial (though not necessarily the spirits of the dead Jews…maybe the spirit of the synagogue itself, if that makes sense), and it was very pleased I’d taken the time to talk to it.

The Roman Wall, with some additions from the Germans.

The Roman Wall, with some additions from the Germans.

After that I left (and felt much better once I was outside the memorial space). I then headed to something I’d wanted to see but had totally forgotten about looking for that first week in Wiesbaden: the Roman wall, known as “die Romantor” in Deutschland. Right down the road from the Jewish memorial, the wall has been reinforced and repaired and even built upon by the Germans (hence why there’s a wooden bridge connecting two parts of the wall). Nearby there are statues and reliefs that are either relics of the Roman age or they were created to resemble Roman works of art, and behind one apartment’s driveway there is a small alcove that might’ve been a storage area. These are all that remains of what might’ve been a Roman fortress against barbarian hordes. It was actually pretty cool, and I couldn’t help but think of a friend of mine from my study abroad trip who would’ve loved to see the wall.

Possibly a storage space for weapons and supplies?

Possibly a storage space for weapons and supplies?

You know thinking about it, I should write a story or two involving the ancient Greeks or Romans. There are already plenty of horror stories involving their mythologies, but involving them? I don’t know of many, though a few Anne Rice books do take place in ancient Rome or thereabouts.

Anyway, after that I headed back to the Marktplatz, where I discovered a costume shop with all these different masks and costumes and accessories available. Apparently Oktoberfest here in Germany involves costumes like Halloween does in the States (fun fact: only a fifth of Germans practice Halloween, as the holiday was mostly discouraed up until the 1990s by the Lutheran church. It’s becoming a growing trend, but still pretty small here except among Americans). I tried on a few masks and took some photos in a full-length mirror in the shop for kicks, then left while thinking about maybe getting a mask of some sort later on.

Mother always said I was a werewolf. I guess we now have proof. Awooo!

Mother always said I was a werewolf. I guess we now have proof. Awooo!

All in all, it was a pretty interesting and fun afternoon. I got to connect with my heritage in a very personal way, as well as immerse myself pretty deep in German history and culture. And I got to see some more of the city I’ve been living in for the past three months, and which I’m going to be sad to leave. Guess that means I’ll have to come back someday, right?

Of course, my adventures in Germany are far from over. I’m trying to arrange to go to this castle with a very interesting history called Wewelsburg over the weekend, and I would like to go to Oppenheim, which is not too far away from where I live, because they have underground labyrinths you can explore (sounds a bit like the Paris catacombs). Hopefully I’ll be able to do both and have fun at Oktoberfest too while I’m at it.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

I’ve entered my last month of this internship. It’s been a crazy time here in Germany, working with the US Army Civilian Corps in the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. And it’s been fun, and a learning experience too. Sure, it wasn’t always easy, and there were times that really tested me. But overall it’s been a very good experience for me, and I’m glad I got to go and do all I’ve been doing.

And if I got the chance, I would love to stay here in Germany.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the States. That’s where I grew up, it’s where my family is, it’s where you can get most YouTube videos without having to worry about American copyright issues (that’s an annoyance I’m learning to live with here in Wiesbaden). But I’ve gotten used to living in Germany. Sure, my grasp of the language is still pretty bad, and you would not believe how expensive just simply living here can be sometimes, and there are a couple of other things that sometimes get on my nerves (you would be surprised how much bakeries tolerate bees crawling over their wares), but overall, I like living here. The people here are very nice, a lot of them speak English and are willing to give you help if you need it. The places I’ve been to are very scenic and calming, and I even feel safe walking home in the dead of night from the train station after a long day traveling to another town or to a rock concert (imagine trying to feel that way in America, where paranoia is pretty big).

Not to mention I really like living and working on the base. It’s a nice place to work, with plenty of different people to meet and interact with. You’re always learning or discovering something new there. And the folks you work with are super-nice! I’m not kidding. One time I was waiting at the bus stop for the four o’clock shuttle bus to the commissary, do some grocery shopping, and then get on the bus home at 5:30. However that week the number of buses going my way had to be reduced due to some of the drivers getting sick, so I thought I had to wait for the five o’clock bus home, which also happened to be the last bus home, which meant no grocery shopping. However, some new soldiers on the base, whom I had never met before, offered me a ride in their car and dropped me off right by the commissary. I was able to get my grocery shopping done and catch the last bus home because of those folks. And like I said, I’d never met these people before, but I knew I could trust them once they offered me a ride. I think it’s because we’re all connected in a common mission of America’s defense, and that makes us willing to trust each other and help each other out when we can, when in other environments people would be…a little less trusting and helpful, I guess. But that sort of environment really makes you want to stay in a place like this, and I would love for that to happen.

Of course, I’ve said before that I don’t think it’s likely that i’ll be able to stay in Germany longer than the three months I was given for my internship. I’ve already bought my plane ticket home. I’ll be leaving October 3rd and arriving back in Ohio the same day (almost like time travel). I didn’t want to buy the plane ticket (mainly because flying anywhere is super expensive), but I have no choice.

Still, there’s hope. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been applying to a variety of different jobs so that I won’t become some freeloader in my dad’s guest room after I get back. As of Friday, the number of applications I’ve sent out are 75, with more likely to be filled out in the coming weeks, and quite a few of those jobs are placed in Germany and other parts of Europe. Who knows? If I keep applying and I keep trying, some of those jobs are going to want to interview me as a candidate, and maybe one or two will want to hire me. It may not happen till after I get back to Ohio, but it could still happen.

So I’ll keep applying, I’ll keep hoping, and above all, keep enjoying what Germany has to offer while I’m here. Who knows? I may get my wish and end up staying just a bit longer than I planned.

I wonder if they’ll let me stay in this apartment if I do get to stay. Boy, would that be nice!

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.