After making a side-trip to Hallstatt, I got back to Munich just before midnight. Thank goodness the little deli at the Central Station was still open and I was able to grab a roasted chicken for dinner.
Nevertheless, the following morning, I woke up with a healthy appetite!
In search of the best Weißwürst (white sausage) in Munich, I hopped on the U-Bahn to get to Gaststätte Großmarkthalle. At 9:30 AM the large hall in the meat-packing district was packed with locals and tourists alike. I was assigned a large table with a German couple – the lady dressed in Drindl, a traditional Bavarian costume – and their sweet little girl, in lederhosen. They told me that the sausages are made fresh in the downstairs kitchen every morning with the meat from the nearby market. Because it does not contain any preservatives, it should be consumed right away, or at least by noon, accompanied with pretzels, Bavarian sweet mustard, and a glass of Weißbier (white beer).
The most traditional way of consuming a white sausage is to suck the meat out of the casing. Nowadays people simply cut the sausage lengthwise and slowly roll the meat off the casing.
As it turned out the Weißwürst was surprisinly tasty due to the combination of fresh meat with herbs and spices. In fact, as I was savouring it, I was already contemplating ways to smuggle some back home 😉
After Breakfast, I travelled to Marienplatz – Munich’s main square
Just in time to see the crowd gather and the glockenspiel started to chime
Just when we thought it had finished, the Schäfflertanz (copper’s dance) started on the bottom section.
After the chimes, I walked past the bustling Viktualienmarkt in search of another local specitalty food: Schmalzknudle – Munich’s deep-fried dough – fresh off the fryer.
It was good, as good as any freshly deep fried dough tasted 😛
After that, I started ambling towards the Sendlinger Tor (gate) until this church caught my attention with its narrow (8 meters) and elaborated façade in the middle of the busy Sendlinger Straße.
Initally built as a private chapel by and for the Asam brothers – the high altar can be seen through a window of their residence next door – the ornate Baroque style Asam (dedicated to St. John Nepomuk) Church was later made accessible to the public, yielding to opposition from the locals.
I was reading William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” at the time and since the city of Munich was the birthplace of the National Socialism (a.k.a Nazism) movement, I thought I would spend some time at the National Socialism Documentation Center to gain more insight. I planned for two hours, but ended up doubling the time indoors on that beautiful afternoon.
To begin with, the building was built on the site of the former Nazi – National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) – headquarters, known as the “Brown House”. Hitler’s office (where a life size of Henry Ford was hang next to his desk, along with a bust of Benito Moussolini), and that of his private secretary Rudolf Heß, the Storm Battalion Leadership, the SS Leadership as well as the Reich Press Office were established there. After the party seized power in 1933, political opponents were imprisoned and tortured in the cellars of the building. The “Brown House” was destroyed in a bombing in 1945.
In April 2008, the Munich City Council commissioned the department of urban development to advertise a competition for the realisation of a Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. The building’s architecture and the design of the outdoor area were to mark the fundamental break with the site’s history and to the former Nazi buildings in the neighbourhood. The design by Georg Scheel Wetzel Architekten (Berlin) won the competition. The cube marks the site without a reference to the “Brown House”. Large windows allow the visitors to view the relics of the Nazi era outside and thereby be included as part of the exhibition/documentation. On 9 March 2012 the cornerstone was laid. The building was completed in 2014. On 1 May 2015 the NS-Dokumentationszentrum opened its doors to visitors with the permanent exhibition “Munich and National Socialism”.
Through four floors (to be visited top to bottom in chronological order) of photographs, documents, texts as well as films and media stations, the exhibition examines the origins and rise of the National Socialism in Munich, the special role the city played under the dictatorship and finally the difficult process of coming to terms with the past since 1945.
The top (4th) floor covers the Origins and Rise of the Nazi Movement in Munich (1918-1933), including the short-lived Räterepublik (Bavarian Soviet Republic) and the failed Beer Hall Putsch on November 9th, 1923.
The third floor encompasses the period beginning in 1933 – when the Nazi government seized power – until the start of the WWII in 1939. It describes in details the Nazi Purge – exclusion and persecution of political opponents and those who did not conform with the Nazi ideology – includeing literature and modern Art (Degenerate Art vs. German Art) that did not fit into Hitler’s vision. At the same time the exhibition looks at the resistance within various social milieus, such as one of the best known components of the German Exilliteratur – Thomas Mann. The section also covers the escalation of violence against Jews – consequently, most Jews shun away from public life even before the round up – as well as the murder of the sick.
The second floor is devoted to World War II and the collapse of the Nazi regime (1939-1945), with accounts of the heroic acts of resistance.
The final section deals with the years after the US army marched into Munich on 30 April 1945. The new beginning was initially characterised by de-Nazification and democratisation, but also by confronting Nazi crimes. The exhibition uses a number of examples to illustrate how people were eager to deny their own guilt and often did not feel particularly ashamed of what had happened.
Finally, the exhibition concludes with a survey of how Munich has addressed its Nazi past, vacillating between a reappraisal of history, “business as usual” and denial.
I went into the museum under bright sunlight, left after dark. Out on the street, in front of the Museum Alte Pinakothek, people were cheering and drinking at a makeshift Beer Garden.
At the time of peace, how easy it is to forget what this city and its inhabitants endured during the twelve years of war and terror. Big applaud to the citizens of Munich for their campaigns against forgetting and denying the past! As history has a tendency to repeat itself, I will leave you with this famous quote by Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Coming up next in the Travel section: Munich Germany – Art & Opera