Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pictures From Our Trip to Germany and Austria: Munich

Munich was the last stop on our trip. Since Alison and I were both sick while in Munich last year and never left the hotel, this year we went back to see the sites and did a walking tour of the city's World War II-related history. We were surprised at how many buildings associated with the Nazis were still left standing after the war.

This is the Rathaus (Town Hall) in Marienplatz in downtown Munich. Not only is the Rathaus home to the Glockenspiel, the animated clock display that relates the city's history (visible in the center of the tower), but this also where German city officials surrendered to an American reconnaissance unit comprised of a few Jeeps and soldiers on 30 April 1945.

The building on the far right used to be the location of the Sterneckerbrau Beer Hall. On 12 September 1919, Adolf Hitler was sent to this beer hall by the German army to spy on a right-wing extremist group known as the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei, or DAP). He was fascinated by the racist and political philosophies this group espoused, and soon quit the military to become one of its leading members and primary public speaker, beginning a career in politics that eventually would see him become German Chancellor in January 1933.

The Hofbrauhaus is one of the oldest beer halls in Munich, tracing its origins back to 1589. It was also one of the locations used by the DAP to hold functions. On 24 February 1920, in front of two thousand supporters Hitler proclaimed the 25-Point Program, the political, economic, and racist policies that the party would follow until 1945. At this time, the DAP was renamed the National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NSDAP), otherwise known as the Nazis.

 The meeting room inside the Hofbrauhaus where Hitler proclaimed the 25-Point Program.

Odeonsplatz, where Hitler's infamous Beer Hall Putsch of 8-9 November 1923 ended when a hundred soldiers blocking the square fired on Hitler and his followers attempting to march to the Bavarian Ministry of Defense. Four soldiers and sixteen Nazis were killed in the gunfire.

The arched building to the right is the Feldhernhalle (Hall of Heroes), the loggia dating back to 1844 to honor Bavarian military leaders. After the Nazis came to power in January 1933, a plaque to the sixteen fallen "blood martyrs" who died during the putsch was erected on the south side (the left side of the loggia in the photo). Police or SS officers stood guard by the plaque, and anyone who passed by was required to give the Nazi salute. 

The Fuhrerbau, the representative building for Adolf Hitler, on 12 Arcis Strasse at Konisplatz. This is where Hitler and Britsih Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in September 1938 that dismembered Czechoslovakia (they did so in the room above the first balcony). Today the Fuhrerbau is the State High School for Music.

The wall in the foreground is the foundation of one of two Ehrentempeln (Honor Temples) erected on this and the opposite street corner. The Ehrentempeln were built to honor the "blood martyrs" of the Beer Hall Putsch. Each temple held eight cast iron sarcophagi bearing their remains. In 1945, following the occupation, the remains were removed and either cremated or buried in unmarked graves; the temples were razed in 1947.

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