On Sunday and Monday we decided to take the kids to two very important places. On Sunday we headed to Dachau Concentration Camp and on Monday we went to Hitler’s Eagles Nest. Mike and I both felt it was important for the kids to get a small glimpse into the history of Germany and step into places that normally they would only get a chance to read about.
The trip to Dachau was approximately 2 1/2 with a short stop on they way. We traveled through Munich and our tour guide was able to give us some history of Munich while we drove through.
We received head sets with our tour and were left to tour the camp at our own pace. Walking through the camp is an extremely somber experience. You are able to see what the prisoners were subjected to through photographs and historical documents. Visitors are able to see how prisoners were processed into the camp and the bunk rooms that they were housed in. Over the years that the camp was open conditions deteriorated greatly as the numbers of prisoners increased dramatically. We took a very small number of photos while we were in the camp and I will only share a couple here.
This is actually the entrance to a convent that is located at the rear of the camp. Their lives work is dealing with the aftermath of the camp.
This is the building where prisoners were in processed.
The Catholic Memorial
A look across the camp. The large square outlines represent where bunkhouses used to stand.
Included in a visit to Dachau is a short video documentary (about 25 minutes) that shows the history of the camp. The recommended age to view the video is 12 years old, but all child may attend with an adult. I took our two oldest children, 14 and 11, to view the video first, leaving my youngest daughter, 9, with Mike. Mike and I definitely felt that they were mature enough to handle viewing it and that it was important for them to see it. After watching it we made the decision that Mike would take Emma to view during the next showing. While the images are graphic and the tone very somber we felt that Emma would benefit from seeing the movie. All of the kids felt that the video gave them a greater understanding of what actually happened in Dachau and it provided a stronger connection to the suffering that went on then just walking through the rooms did.
After viewing the documentary we continued our tour by seeing the Crematorium and the camp prison where many famous anti-nazi prisoners were kept over the years. We also visited the memorial sites. There are three religious memorials on the site dedicated to the people who died in the camps.
The day was filled with a large amount of reflection. We are glad that we were able to take our kids to see it. They have such a greater understanding of what happened and it was a step to opening an even greater dialogue with each one of them. My son, Michael, has an even greater interest in World History now and is taking a heavy load of GCSE History classes this year in order to learn even more.
The next morning we woke up super early in order to catch the tour to Eagle’s Nest. The trip to Eagle’s nest was about 4 hours. We stopped at the halfway point and grabbed a couple pretzels for a snack.
Our tour bus dropped us off about halfway up the mountain that Eagle’s Nest is perched on. From there you must board special buses designed to make the steep ascent up the mountain. The ride to the top of the mountain is about 20 minutes and the views are spectacular. Sit on the inside aisle if you are afraid of heights though because the drop offs are very intimidating.
Once at the top of the mountain you must take an elevator up to Eagle’s Nest or hike to the top. We chose to take the elevator. In order to get to the elevator you walk down a long tunnel. We only waited about 10 minutes to get an elevator but when we came back down the line for the elevator was really long and I imagine the line was taking at least an hour or two. So definitely try and get to Eagles Nest before noon.
At the top of the mountain you step out and just beautiful scenery. Unfortunately right after we arrived at the top clouds rolled in and the view literally disappeared. All we could see were clouds below us. That didn’t stop us from exploring the top of the mountain though. The house itself has been converted to a restaurant and there’s not much to see inside. We walked through the house and up the trail that leads away from the house. We spent about an hour up there and then headed back down via the elevator. At the bottom you grab a bus and head back down to the parking lot.
While we were glad that we took the opportunity to see this historical landmark it was probably the most disappointing destination we went to during our entire trip. It really has been turned into a tourist stop rather than a historical place. Even though we were disappointed, we still greatly appreciate our opportunity to visit there and wouldn’t have passed the up the opportunity.
After leaving Eagle’s Nest we headed into a local town about 15 minutes away for lunch and time to explore. Lunch was a traditional German restaurant and had amazing food. Unfortunately, just as we were finishing it started raining. We headed out to explore the town but due to it being a holiday most of the shops were closed. So after a quick stroll we headed back to the bus.
On the way home we stopped at the same rest stop from the morning and grabbed some of the best ice cream we have ever had!
We arrived back to Edelweiss late in the evening and headed back to our cabin. We needed to get to bed because we had an even more amazing adventure planned for the next day!!