Touring with a Band of Brothers
Ted Moon's Journal
Entry 7 - Haguenau
Hello all, my mistake - the last entry was Entry 6 that I wrote from Strausbourg, France after our trip to Haguenau that day. After I wrote that email, I was trying to walk back to the hotel and I got hopelessly lost and I walked for about an hour on the dark empty streets of this Alsace city. Then, my high school French kicked in and I was able to get the locals to give me directions and I made it back. Thank you, Mr. Fraiture, my high school French teacher.
Yesterday was a travel day from France to Germany, with a stop in Dachau. The concentration camp there is a sprawling facility with all the grounds and buildings over a piece of ground about the size of a small college campus. We stopped there because Easy company had liberated a smaller camp which was based off the Dachau model (most were built from this model) in Landau, as seen in Episode 9.
We have so far been traveling looking at different battle sites and tracing the steps of our three veteran heroes. Yesterday, it all hit home on why they were sacrificing themselves and why all those fallen heroes we saw in the three American cemeteries were fighting about. Thus, the episode in the miniseries is aptly titled, "Why We Fight."
Paul, Earl, and Jack were all part of the Landau liberation but they did not have much to say about it. probably because they have been trying to forget it.
Although seeing the actual site and the actual buildings, gas chambers, "death rooms" and cremation furnaces was sobering at Dachau, I have to say that I did not get the same effect that I did when I first saw the US Holocaust Museum in DC. I think our museum, being organized chronologically and trying to make it very personal for the visitor, makes for a much more dramatic effect than just a bunch of old buildings.
Perhaps it was also seeing hordes of young German high school kids laughing and horsing around (now that is a grown up term!) made it less impactful to me as well. in any case, it was moving and sobering, but not what I had expected.
We then rode into Bad Reichenhall (as opposed to Good Reichenhall - just kidding), Germany in the Bavarian Alps. What breathtaking scenery here. Also, it is nice to finally be in good weather (sunny and 70) and be in the same place for three nights. One of the hardest things lately is remembering our room numbers when ordering drinks at dinner b/c we've been moving so much. Also, since Easy Company moved into this area in the spring of 1945 when the weather was beautiful, it is very appropriate. We had dark, cloudy, dizzly weather in England and Normandy, similar to what they had when those battles took place and then awful rainy cold weather in Holland and Belgium, similar to, the weather during Operation Market Garden and the Island. We have not had snow, thankfully, like during the Battle of the Bulge.
It is nice to get some fresh clothes and laundry done here at the hotel. I had just run out and it is important for me to look cool, since with all these elderly people around me, when I'm in pictures with the veterans, I can easily end up looking like Long Duk Dong with Grandpa (from "Sixteen Candles", if you're wondering).
Evenings have been boring, limited to going to the hotel bars since most of the places we have stopped at are not exactly top tourists stops, more just places close to the battle sites. The hotel bar is where Jack usually holds court with some of us but there are nights when even Jack heads up for an early night. Our ugly American friend buys drinks for everyone and bosses the local service and it is embarassing to be around him so we try to avoid it.
Anyway, more on the next email on today's trip to Berchesgaden, the birthplace of the Third Reich.
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