Going to Germany was a good experience. I found the trip to be a good length (6 weeks) because I was constantly learning knew things about the city, but I didn’t get tired of the city life and noise until the end of the trip. It was neat to experience a different culture and see how the German people live. The food was good (mostly because of these wonderful things called Dӧners. Google ‘em for more info) but German food lacks fruit and vegetables, a major staple of my diet, so that was something to get used to. We always spent a fair amount of time on school work, but it was never overwhelming. The group seemed to have a good dynamic and homework was usually a social event, allowing us to all check methods and results with others. The professors did a good job keeping us busy on the weekends while still giving us some time to travel independently or just relax. Overall, the trip was great and I would definitely recommend it to others.
With our German class, we visited the Olympic stadium built by Hitler’s regime for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hitler’s goal was to build a great stadium for propaganda purposes, one so great that it would last longer than the Coliseum in Rome. I had the privilege to travel to Rome one weekend with my friend Clay and see the Coliseum in person. The Coliseum was built in the area where the roman emperor Nero had the Domus Aurea built: an artificial lake surrounded by pavilions and gardens. Nero snatched up much of the land after the Great Fire of Rome in order to do this, so when his Domus Aurea was torn down for a pubic amphitheater to be constructed, it was received as a populist movement to return the land to the people. However, the construction was funded by the spoils taken from the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD and built by many of the 100,000 Jews brought back to Rome as slaves. I found this to be an incredible parallel: two monumental complexes built to please and fool the people, in the midst of the persecution of another group. It seems that when we as humans and nations always want to be remembered, even at the expense of someone else.
The third picture is a photo taken in the church that originally held Martin Luther’s 95 theses on its entrance. There was a statue hung from the ceiling displaying what appeared to be Luther taking flight. It seemed like an odd place and position for Luther to be remembered, but I figure on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, just about anything goes.
The highlight of our trip to Cologne was the Cathedral. We visited the Cathedral twice, once as tourists and once to worship. Attending High Mass at the Cologne Cathedral was my first time attending a Catholic service and there were some similarities that I noticed with Protestant services. Continue reading “Blog Post #4”
Visiting the Holocaust museum and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp initially left me shocked at the horrors committed by the Germans against Jews, homosexuals, and other minorities. Initially I wanted to blame the German people for the Holocaust, but I must believe that the problem is deeper than that. For me it served as a display of sin’s hold on humanity and our desperate need for a savior. Unfortunately, this genocide, while extensive, is not unique. As long as we as humans remain “fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) we will continue to do evil against one another.
Even if the problem is not specific for the German people, there have certainly been historical consequences for Germany. This event has not only shaped the German stereotype, but was a factor in the Allies’ occupation of Germany following the end of WWII. People believed that Germany, after provoking two global wars and attempting to “ethnically cleanse” their nation, needed to be controlled, at least temporarily. Also, as a result of the war, most historical buildings in larger cities are damaged or destroyed, leaving a constant reminder to those passing by.
I realize that I could only scratch the surface of the true horrors that were experienced by those caught in the Holocaust. I also realize that although this experience was sad and dark, it was good experience as well. It gave me an objective view of an important time of recent history, as well as showing me the true depths of human sin and our desperate need for Jesus.
Berlin is a neat city. I have never been a huge fan of cities because they are lacking in elbow-room and fresh air, but… Continue reading “One Week Later…”