Sunday, February 3, 2013

Concentration Camp, Carillon Bells, and Concert

I decided to do my "heavy" sightseeing today with a tour of Sachenhausen Concentration Camp. I joined a small walking tour of 6 others and Michael, our guide. We took the train to Oranienberg and then walked to the camp, just like the prisoners would have done. I will spare you all the details except two which were surprising to me. First, the prisoners would have ridden the same 34-40 minute comuter train that citizens would have been riding home from Berlin. Second, the prisoners would have been working in the village alongside residents living their normal lives: moms cooking dinner, children playing in their yards, etc. I'd always thought these camps were out in the middle of forests or isolated places that would be inconspicuous to residents so the proximity to Berlin of this camp really surprised me. I should note that this camp was primarily used for prisoners of war or traitors to the Nazi regime and that the relatively small number of Jews that stayed in this camp either died early on or were shipped to Poland.

After the approximately 3 1/2 hours walking around at the freezing cold camp (I would have died just having to line up for roll call 3 x per day in the winter) we headed back to Berlin.

By now it was 5:00 pm, just enough time to take in the free special exhibit to remember that 80 years ago Hitler took power. The exhibit explained the rise of Hitler's power in the early 1930's. The exhibit helped me understand the conflict between the communists and social democrats in Berlin as well as the extreme disparities between rich and poor..sounded liked the Great Depression in America..only once Hitler took power, (he supposedly won an election) he changed all the rules and became a dictator.

I exited the museum just before closing time at 5:45 pm. Bundled up for a brisk jog to the subway, I was greeted with a glorious carillon bell concert ringing from the towers of the Berlin Cathedral. This got me to thinking that possibly there would be service at 6:00 pm so I changed direction and headed over. Sure enough, just as the bells faded, I entered the very gothic, very ornate, very beautiful cathedral to the glorious sounds of an organ prelude: Andreas Sieling at the organ playing Cesar Franck's III. Chroal a-Moll 1. Teil: Allegro. It was fantastic! The service was all in German, but close enough to English that I could follow it. We sang great hymns by German composers: Johann Peter Schultz, Johann Walter, and the ancient Tyrol tune  Oh Welt, Ich muss dich lassen. The organist played 2. Teil: Adagio as a offertory and 3 Teil: Allegro as the postlude. It was magnificent.

The memorial at the concentration camp and the music at the cathedral served as reminders to me that courage, hope and love will conquer evil.


No comments:

Post a Comment