This weekend was filled with once in a lifetime opportunities. I went to Munich, Germany and experienced the ever so famous Oktoberfest festivals and visited the Dachau Concentration Camp. As if this weekend wasn’t amazing enough to begin with I got to experience it all with 12 of my best friends from High Point! Knowing we were all going abroad and studying in different places we planned this trip so we could meet up back in July! After looking forward to this weekend for about three months now I can’t believe it’s over, but it was worth every second!
This was something I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and in the end I was anything but disappointed! Everything about it is such an experience. On Friday we got there at 1030 am and we were “late” Locals arrive to the grounds at 7am in order to secure a spot in their favorite tent. Oktoberfest is currently made up of 34 tents, all of which serve their own beer (which is brewed within the Munich city limits at one of six breweries).
I went to the Hofbrau-Festzelt tent which is extermly popular among Americans and the Hacker-Festzelt tent which is one of Oktoberfest’s largest tents. I really enjoyed the atmospheres of both but I definitely liked Hacker’s beer a lot more! (Maybe it’s because we were at Hofbrau at 10 am Friday and Hacker at 8pm Saturday haha but no matter what we all agreed Hacker’s tasted better in our opinions) Once you’re in a tent you grab a table with your friends and then a waiter/waitress is over within a minute to take your “stein” or beer order. Ten Euros gets you one liter of Stein which is equivalent to about four American beers. During all of this bands are playing and people are mingling as well. We met so many locals in both tents and they couldn’t have been any nicer or excited to have met us as well. For us two steins is PLENTY but some of the locals we met were on stein 5 or 6!! Definitely something they are more accustomed to, growing up in the area and attending annually.
On a more serious note we also took a tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp Saturday afternoon. Dachau was the first prisoner camp set up in March of 1933 and it was mostly built by the prisoners themselves. They entered through a gate that read “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” which meant freedom comes from work, which is what many prisoners believes. Dachau was built to house and hold 6,000 but when the camp was liberated in April 1945 32,000 prisoners were found living there in only 34 barracks. Living conditions were unbelievable, and to make things worse Dachau had a separate prison or bunker as they called it for those who broke the rules. Georg Elser was even brought here after his failed assassination attempt of Hitler. The bunker was a place one definitely didn’t want to go; often prisoners were locked up without food or water for three or four days at a time. It was cold inside when I was there (early October) I cannot even imagine what it was like in the winter time.
Over 25,000 prisoners died at Dachau, and I was in the middle of where it all took place. From the roll call grounds to the crematories we were standing right where thousands of people’s stories tragically came to an end. We all had the chills the entire time we were inside the camp. All of the stories we read and movies we watched did not do this place justice. While being hear brought upon lots of uneasiness to us all it was still an amazing tour to experience.