60 Years Ago Today

 

Monday, 28 July 1952:

After getting up at 6:30 a.m. in Munich, I had a quick bath using the basin. My keys to the suitcase and hangers were still missing. I guess I’ll leave them In Germany for a souvenir for someone else. Again I had a continental breakfast. The hotel had a couple of lobbies and it was raining outside. I retrieved my raincoat which was folded neatly in my bag.

Then I walked across to Tele-tel to mail four postcards air mail for 50 pfennies each. We gathered the crew up and took the long way to American Express through Konigsplatz Square. However, I didn’t receive any letters. Dorothy was back from Heidelberg by now. I’ve had it here and I’m ready to move on.

We headed out of Munich through Starnberg and then on to Oberammergau, in the Bavarian Alps. Then we ate chow in Alte Post. I had wienerschnitzel and strawberry pie. Oberammergau was famous for its Passion play that has been performed for over 300 years. It included a cast of over 1400 people who were made up of German natives or people who have lived here for over 20 years.

The Passion story was about Christ and had no pause in the play. It ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a two hour lunch from noon to 2 p.m. There were no artificial effects or makeup in the play and natural light was only used. If it rained, the play would go on.

A middle stage and sliding stage was used. A set was prepared and then slid forward. The supposed Last Supper table had been used in the play for over 200 years. We saw a showcase of costumes that had been last used in 1720 and Oriental costumes 120 years old. All other costumes were still in use. Swords and other objects were in different dressing rooms for each group of characters.

Afterwards I ran down to the café where we ate at the Gasthaus Alter Post Hotel owned by Anton Preisinger, the owner, who had played Christ in the theater in 1950. I got an autograph of Stak at the famous White Horse Inn. We hurried through a typical graveyard to a church. It was a Rococo Baroque church which was ornate and elaborate for such a small church. St. Amanda’s bones had been taken from the catacombs and buried there. The Trinity picture hung above.

Then we wandered around shops and at 4:30 p.m. we met the whole gang at the bus. It was still raining and little kids were there to meet us and take us to their homes. We drew cards to determine which house we were going to stay at. I drew a little girl named Betty Eder that had long dark pigtails and a cute smile. Henry and Dick were in the same house with some of us girls. We met her mother as she greeted us at the door.

As we talked with the little girl in our broken German, she was very hospitable. Alicia and Henry took the lead in the conversation, but I managed to get out a few words now and then. The little girl, Betty, showed us a picture of the surrounding country we would be seeing and explained some of the things to us. Alicia asked her about the Bible and she brought out a catechism book which was a summary or exposition of their doctrine.

There were pictures of the family in the living room. Unfortunately her father had been killed in Russia during World War II. Horns from animals that her father had killed made up decorations around the pictures. They had a beautiful stove with carving on the outside of it. I felt that I had received a really good lesson with the opportunity to stay with these people. I saw the suffering of this German family and their needs were just like anyone else.

My bedroom on the second story was clean as a pin with big feather comforters and two huge pillows. I spotted a huge wash basin and pitchers with a big tall square varnished stove in the corner. The modern toilette downstairs had a picture of an open window and a poem on the wall that said “Machs Fenster auf Lass frische auft herein der nachste wirddin dankbar sein!” At 6:30 p.m. we bid them adieu to go to the hotel post to eat. It was still raining and I had on my Vesuvius Sandles for a free foot bath.

As we arrived we discovered there was a private dining room just for us. Everyone reported each of our own experiences and good fortune. Eloise and Virginia claimed to have had ein bad or a bath. My meal was kind of like a hamburger steak, but it wasn’t cooked quite thoroughly. Sadly there was no dessert but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

We scrambled off to the Oberammergan, the Passion play. It turned out to be in a cute little theatre dealy with our own theatre Passion play guide. He came over to sit by us and tried to explain what was going on. He said it was in a German dialect so we wouldn’t be able to understand it even if we knew German. Since we didn’t know German, we were left to decipher for ourselves with the guide’s help. However, the first part was typical music with three musicians. One person had a double guitar and another had a Zither. Two little girls and four boys sang and yodeled a cuckoo clock among other sounds. Then three funny guys in typical dress with leather shorts did likewise.

Then came the play. The play turned out to be a political brawl and I couldn’t understand any of the jokes so I napped now and then. Our small Oberammergan guide thought we didn’t enjoy it very much cause we were catching up on our sleep. We just couldn’t understand it.

Outside again the rain greeted us as we left the little theatre and headed for the bus. Some of the kids were left off along the way. They were bragging about the baths they had had and we didn’t know whether to believe them or not. Then we stopped in bar for a drink where I got a really nasty orange drink. Those of us staying at the Eder house had a dark trail to walk along to get to the house. Mrs. Eder was still waiting up for us and showed us where the kitchen was located.

 

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60 Years Ago Today

Sunday, 27 July 1952:

I gloriously slept in. However, I missed breakfast which had been already paid for. Rats! Then I walked to church for several miles it seemed, cause I had on heels and a knit suit. It wasn’t cool and a little treacherous. There were missionaries and servicemen at the gate to meet us.

Opening exercises were in German while class was in English. We remarked on the trip at church and all said a few corny words. Many servicemen and English speaking people were at church with American kids born in Germany. Bruce Neville helped me load my new camera. I snapped my first picture in front of the church. Then we were back to the hotel for dinner.

Next we went sightseeing on the bus with a soldier who was a convert. He used to be a Spanish Pastor. I caught sight of the Nymphenburg Palace again, but was disappointed because we didn’t get to see the botanical gardens. All of us drove around town and saw the bombed out buildings. We journeyed past the Kurst House, English Gardens, and saw the Bavarian Band playing at Beer Garten. I noticed kids bathing in the Isar River. Later we passed the Deutchen Museum and then back home to our hotels.

We had an early dinner with the serviceman convert. Dinner consisted of cold plates of food that had been prepared for five. Afterwards, we caught a cab to church because we were late. I quickly dashed from the church to the opera and barely made it. Opera Electra had one set that was two hours long. It was a superb performance with the lead singing in every imaginable position. There was a twenty minute ovation.

Dear Folks,            27 July 1952
Mail stop in Munich was wonderful because I had two newsy letters from you. You just can’t imagine all the wonderful things we’ve seen and done. I just wish you could all be here with me. I have to write at the funniest places and times. We spent a wonderful Sunday today with the members and missionaries here in Munich. We have the program again tonight, but I didn’t have to talk this week because I had my turn twice last Sunday and get it again next Sunday in Vienna. It’s really a thrill. We only have a little over a month left, and I really hate to see the time go so fast. Last night we heard a wonderful concert in the Nymphenburg Palace and tonight the Opera Electra, the most wonderful I’ve seen.

60 Years Ago Today

 

Friday, 25 July 1952:

I woke at 2:30 a.m. having fallen asleep and left the lights on. I stirred again at 7 a.m. since the bus was coming to pick us up at 8 a.m. As our day started, we dropped Marilyn in town, who was going to Berlin. Then we crossed the Blue Danube into the Bavaria section of Ulm. I spotted a tractor and combine and wondered if they were part of the Marshall Plan to help Europe recover from the war.

Soon we stopped in Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities, which was founded in the 1st Century a.d. We found the Fugger house which was historically a prominent group of European bankers and parked in the midst of a cathedral. There was a monument to Bavarian soldiers and the foundation of an earlier church.

Next we went in a Catholic Cathedral where mass was being held with inside scaffolding to repair the cathedral all around us. It was huge and massive inside with only a few stained glass windows left. The Gothic south portal was unusual.

On the wooden streets, I talked to an officer about buying some cameras. I missed seeing the place where Martin Luther, a Protestant Reformist, made the Augsburg Confession. It took place at a little St. Anne’s Church in order to resolve religious controversies between the Protestants and Catholics. The Catholic Church tried to get him to recant here, but he wouldn’t.

Today St. Anne’s Church was used for either Catholic or Protestant members and the benches were able to be turned around. Half of the group was late seeing St. Anne’s Church. Henry came running back to let us know about it and everyone got excited about this fine deal. However, some of the kids had to pay this morning.

Then we went on to the Dachau Concentration Camp that was the first camp opened for political prisoners. It opened in 1933 where 70,000 people were killed. The town had spotlights with a little girl playing with a doll in the streets. Families of the refugees from East Germany lived there now.

During the tour I saw a German MP and the crematorium where the Jews were forced to dispose of their own corpses. Big ovens were used to burn their bodies and I glimpsed wreaths on the furnaces. What an eerie feeling to be where there had been so much suffering during the war.

There was a crematorium tombstone by the gate with flowers around it. The entrance gate stated “Arbeit macht frei” which was a German phrase that means work sets you free. Denket Daran Wie Wie Heir Starben. In front of the crematorium there was a monument of a skeleton like a man that represented all unknown prisoners and stated never again. Din Toten Zurchr Den Lebenden Zur Mahmung.

Farther on we went into a building that had a map of all the prison camps. The whole of Germany was dotted with prison camps. There were almost more camps than cities it seemed.

On April 29, 1945 when Dachau was liberated 31,432 persons were interned here. Along the walls were pictures of the appalling conditions during that time. There were gas chambers where prisoners were told to take a shower and then they were showered with gas instead of water. It was a death chamber. I also noticed a large tree that was used for hanging in the cemetery for prisoners who were then put in mass graves.

On the tour we passed a new crematorium which was used as another death chamber. Jewish prisoners were used for crematorium workers to perform the dirty work. Then they had their turn at death after five to six weeks. Afterwards, new workers were brought in and kept separate from the rest of the camp to supposedly keep the secret of what really was going on.

On the walls was a picture of Ilse Koch, who was a wife of the commandant and a guard. She was known as “The Witch of Buchenwald” by the inmates because of her alleged cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners at the Buchenwald Prison Camp. She embodied a woman that did not esteem the dignity of mankind. A sign stated: “Dignity of Mankind Entrusted to you. Guard it! It is you who degrades it. It is you who elates it!”

Afterwards, we proceeded to Munchen or Munich. Once getting there we traveled into town by the Bahnhofplatz train station plaza. In Königsplatz, a city square, we looked for an American Express for mail. It seems Munich has had better days. There were many beautiful buildings that were in ruins. However, some of the buildings had been restored.

We passed the obelisk that was erected in commemoration of 30,000 Bavarian Soldiers that had fallen in Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. Finally, we found the American Express at the Odeonsplatz, a large square in central Munich, which was named after the former concert hall Odeon. Our mail was in a whole big wad of letters. With anticipation I joyously received two letters from Mom and Twila. I tried to buy some script. Ha ha! No luck again.

While we got our luggage from the bus we found out there were two main hotels for our group. Half the mob would stay at Three Lions Hotel and the rest of the mob at Esplanade Hotel just around the corner. Well, what do you know? We found ourselves right back by the Bahnhof, a former railway terminus in Berlin.

At the hotel I had room 27 which was nice and clean. The bed had sheets that were stuffed with a blanket for a cover and one big pillow. There was a window door opening onto the balcony that overlooked the station Platz. I discovered hot water and a door leading to a bath that was locked. I checked with the desk and found out that the bathroom was open for 6 marks 24 hours a day. I’ll have to see what I can arrange.

After checking about what was going on, I ran across the street to the ticket office to get a clue about concert tickets. There were only a few expensive tickets left for the concert. So I decided to rush down to Karlsplatz, a large square, to another ticket booth. Only two tickets were left for 7.80 marks. I dashed back to give Herr Rogers the dope and then went to pick up Carol.

I searched for the military PX and I couldn’t find it. Meanwhile a small nice serviceman helped us find American Express, but it was closed. Then we went back trying to find the military PX. And it wasn’t across the street where we had been told it was and where we thought it was. Everyone we asked said it was just five minutes farther.

As we continued looking we passed the Art Museum and Officer’s Club with English gardens behind. Then we spotted a sign down the street. Yea! We found it. We couldn’t go in but we checked to see if there were any cameras that we wanted. The PX had them, but we didn’t have any script. So we decided to give up for today and try again tomorrow.

As we walked back along the route we came on, we had a conducted tour of the American Way. It was situated in a bombed out building. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel for dinner. Dinner was good but quite meager.

I chatted with a desk clerk from Cologne, Germany. He told us to see the Hoffbrau House or Famous Beer Gardens. Carol asked him if he would take us there and he said he would be glad to at 10 p.m. when he got off work.

So we wandered out to take a look at the city by night. The ruined buildings didn’t have quite the harsh look as they did by daylight. We wandered through the Beer Gardens near the hotel to see what it was like. The beer was served in great big mugs. There was a band playing inside and out wearing native costumes. I observed German Frauleins with colored US Soldiers and other US Soldiers looking for other Frauleins. A serviceman told us that the Frauleins who associated with the colored soldiers would be branded for life after the troops left.

We hurried back to the hotel to wait for Mike. He seemed to be very well educated and was interesting to talk to. He came out with a briefcase and light blue sweater over a shirt with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up over his sweater. On the way to the Hoffbrau House, we discussed nationalities and how he felt about Americans. We heard a little of his life history where he apparently hadn’t suffered too much during World War II. His parents had sent him to a private school near where we saw Rommel’s house. He was 24 years old and seemed to have quite a superior air as we had been told to expect from the better educated in the German cast system. He claimed he liked Americans and was going to visit some relative in Boston next year. As we walked he told us the Marshall Plan built the hotel where we were staying. He pointed out all the landmarks, like the clocks, to us on the way down.

When we arrived at the Hoffbrau House, it was filled with people. We wandered past the band and had to sit at a table with some other people. Unfortunately, the band played only one tune after we got there. This was the low brow part.

It was an interesting crowd. All the people came to the Beer Gardens and everybody seemed happy and gay. We talked to a German who had been to Argentina and discussed how Hitler had been here and talked. Bombs had exploded here as well. On the way back we saw the place where Hitler was captured in 1923 in the early days of the Nazi party when they unsuccessfully tried to seize power. Hitler had hit the ground after being wounded when his group was fired at and then fled.