The day started with a 5:30 wake up call. It was rough getting up kinda of felt like getting up for school. Breakfast was amazing! I had pancakes and orange juice. We had a double decker bus today. We went to the Bauhaus art school in Dessau first. It was around a 2 hour ride and tons of us fell right asleep. We are still a little bit jet lagged but not too bad. Today was a long action-packed day.
The Bauhaus was an art school and artistic movement created by a man named Walter Gropius. First the school was built in Weimar Germany but it was a conservative city who did not like it. So the school was moved to Dessau. Today the Bauhaus is still an art school and students can live plus take classes there. Anyone can stay the night for around 50 Euros. Bauhaus furniture and dish-ware (cups,bowls,teapots) were very practical with no design. They were created this way so working class people could buy them. This is kinda funny because today a type of stool, which name I forget, cost around $680. Lesson is art is expensive. Ooh! Another fun fact! In 1926 the Bauhaus has the largest undivided pane of glass in Europe.
After we had lunch in the Bauhaus we left and had an hour ride to the Gedenkstätten Sachsen-Anhalt Fachklinkum Bernburg. Bernburg is a really small town and housed an euthanasia center. Under the Nazis there were 6 centers. The euthanasia center killed people with physical, mental disabilities or deemed immorally unfit as well as some political prisoners from concentration camps. If a person suffering from a mental illness like depression did not get better after 5 years they were deemed unheal-able and a financial burden by the NSDAP(the Nazi party). So they were gassed. The disabled people were sent from all over Germany to these centers.The families of the victims were often told months or weeks after they were killed. They were also told the victims died of natural causes like a ruptured appendix. The youngest person killed was 2 years old and the oldest was 87. The memorial still has the gas chamber the same as it was in 1941-1945. We went into the gas chamber where around 60 people were brought to. Unlike in concentration camps who used the chemical Zyklon B, Carbon Monoxide was used to knock out and then kill the people. Afterwards brains were taken out and bodies dissected. Then burned in ovens where 2-3 bodies were put in. A victim’s family would receive the ashes of their “relative” but since more than one person was burned they received other people’s ashes too. So no one knows where all a person’s ashes ended up. The most eerie and creepy part is that the euthanasia center was placed by a hospital for people with disabilities. The people in hospital next door were transferred to a different hospital before brought to the center but still creepy. After the war the room where people were dissected became a surgery room. Today that mental hospital next door is still a mental hospital. It now uses the then euthanasia administrative floor as a part of the hospital. It is just a frightening thought that people with mental or physical disabilities are currently being treated so close to where 14,000 people died. There was a stone outside to commentate the lives lost with the words, “Das Schweigen ist gebrochen” which translates to “the silence is broken.” That really hit me hard. Especially because people all over Germany knew about the centers and what happened. At one point it did shut down but soon opened up again under a different name. The memorial helps these people be remembered even if through a few school groups it gets. It is important that even though this is not common knowledge to many people outside of Germany or majority of the German public today, we remember. We won’t forget that people with disabilities not only Jews were persecuted.
Later we rode back to Berlin and visited the part of the Berlin Wall that still stands for the purpose of displaying what it was like. It was kinda of dark because we went after 6 but it changed things. The wall was such a significant thing that we don’t really understand because we never lived with the Berlin Wall. We took the train and it was pretty cool. Unlike the MBTA, these train doors will not wait for you.
Today’s impact was that we need to remember and see to understand the extent of this history. Once we know that then we can spread this history because it is far too important to ignore.
View of the Bauhaus (Meg)
2/16/2019 08:12:28 am
Very nice reflection on the Euthanasia Center, Meg. Yes marginalized people are not always part of the conversation and it’s great that you had the experience and exposure to that kind of atrocity as well. Thanks so much for your reflection.
2/16/2019 09:38:22 pm
Very moving. How fortunate to be able to experience such an important part of history.
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