Visiting my friend Johanna in Munich has been great. I love the city. It’s big, but not too big, and it is clean, beautiful, and safe. Even though there is so much to like about Munich today, the city does have a somewhat dark past. Munich is actually the birthplace of the Nazi Party. Interesting, eh? This fascinated me, so I tried to learn as much about it as I could. Unfortunately the museum I wanted to go to was closed on Mondays (the only day I could go), so I missed out, but I still was able to learn a lot by talking with Johanna and going on a city walk tour.
As you walk through Munich, you can see important Nazi buildings that have been converted into everyday buildings. My favorite example of this is in the Munich music academy, which used to be Hitler’s office. That’s right, music students today can actually rent out Hitler’s office to practice the saxophone. Sometimes Neo Nazi groups rent out the room as well to hold meetings, but the school tries to avoid supporting that (for obvious reasons). It’s weird though, for as beautiful as Munich is, there is something depressing about that building. It is not dirty or run down, but there is just something about it that is off. I can’t put my finger on it, but it just gives off a weird vibe, especially considering the other beautiful buildings all around it.
Germany has this very complicated, fuzzy line that seperates freedom of speech and anti-Nazi support. For example, it is illegal to reproduce copies of Mein Kampf. You can have access to copies that were already published, but you can’t reproduce more copies. However, next year marks 70 years since Hitler’s death, and by German law copyright laws go away after someone has been dead for 70 years. This means that by law people should be able to reproduce the book as much as they want. But German government doesn’t want them to. Johanna told me it is somewhat of a hot topic right now and it’s not really clear on what will happen.
I think my favorite thing I learned about the whole Nazi/Germany thing was how Germans deal with it today. My tour guide from the City Walk Tour that I did told me that there is this saying in Germany, that is roughly translated to mean “Always learning so we never forget,” meaning that Germans are pretty open about their past and are ok talking about it, because they never want history to repeat itself. They also place memorials all around the city to keep discussions open and commemorate the people who resisted the Nazi movement. My favorite memorial are these gold bricks laying in one of the ally ways.. Here is the story:
Right when Hitler was put into government, he made a memorial to commemorate the 16 Nazi party supporters who died during the Beer Hall Putsch. Along with the statue, Hitler hired 2 guards to be with the statue 24/7. These guards were hired to make sure that EVERYONE who passed by the statue would give the Nazi salute. In order to retaliate, people started going around the statue, down this alley way, basically taking the longer way in order to resist giving the nazi salute. Eventually Hitler caught on to this and placed a guard in the alley way as well, and if you were seen going down the alley, the guard would stop you and you better have a pretty valid reason for going down the alley and not the street or you would be beaten, fined, or charged with treason or something. Pretty scary stuff. But these gold bricks are there to commemorate the people who were bold enough to walk the alley way. I love it!