"To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom....Since our office is with moments, let us husband them."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Concentration Camp and Berlin

Today was the beginning of the long study tour, and it was quite the start. First, I was operating on 1 hour of sleep, as I stayed up the entire night watching the Indians beat the Red Sox (minus the 1-hour nap I took during the uneventful 7th, 8th, and 9th innings). It was awesome seeing them put seven runs on the board in the top of the 11th. Pretty much 2 minutes after the game ended Michael and I were in the car heading to Frue Plads, where he dropped me off to catch the bus. Unfortunately, bus seats aren’t that conducive to good sleeping so I wasn’t able to catch up on my sleep. We then spent 2 hours on a ferry to go from Denmark to Germany, which was followed by another 3 hours in the bus.

Our first stop was at Sachsenhausen, outside of Berlin, which was a Nazi concentration camp, and then a Soviet camp. This was the second concentration camp I’ve visited, as I went to Dachau during my family vacation to Germany two summers ago. **Unfortunately my immediate thoughts were lost, so this will now include my thoughts 3 weeks later.** In comparison to Dachau, Sachsenhausen seemed to have a greater effect on me personally. I'm not exactly sure why, but it just seemed to be a more emotionally draining experience. That might have to do with my state of mind, the weather conditions, or perhaps just the people I experienced it with. Whatever it was, it really brought out feelings that coincide with my personal connection associated with my own Jewish heritage, cultural upbringing, and familial ties.

We then drove for another hour or so into Berlin. Initially, when I found out my tour was going to Berlin I was less than thrilled, mostly because I spent two months there two summers ago, and would have much rather seen another European city. However, with that said, once we were there I was so excited to be back in Berlin. It is unbelievable what a factor familiarity plays in a person’s outlook on a place. It was great to know where we were, to be able to point out places of interest to other people on the bus, and to be able to navigate the city’s public transportation.

The highlight of the evening by far was dinner. We ate a restaurant called Unsichtsbar, which has a rough literal translation of the unable to have sight bar. This was a dark restaurant. That means that the eating area is pitch black and all the waiters/waitresses are blind. It was an unbelievable experience. Not being able to use your eyes while eating adds such a different dynamic to a meal. You end up focusing more on the smell and taste of the food, as well as its texture. Then, the darkness also makes you focus more on other people’s words and not on their physicalness. The food was good too, as an added bonus.

This restaurant was also awesome because it was in a neighborhood that my friends and I loved to hang out in (when I was in Berlin previously). This allowed me to show my DIS friends our favorite hangout and I was also able to get a beer that I had been craving since arriving in Denmark, but that can apparently only be bought in Berlin. It’s nice to be on vacation. I think that is the theme for the next 3 weeks.
two summers ago), but it was still quite the emotionally draining experience. We were provided with audio guides and set off on our own to explore the exhibits and buildings. I spent most of the time with another girl (who is also Jewish, and spent some of her summer on a birthright trip to Poland (seeing all the Polish concentration camps) and Israel) discussing the impact of the Holocaust on our outlook on life being of Jewish descent. For whatever reason this camp seemed to be a little more emotional draining than Dachau, but I’m not quite sure why.

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