Touring with a Band of Brothers
Ted Moon's Journal
Entry 8 - Berchtesgarden
Hello all, I wrote earlier but didn't include today's activities and I probably won't have a chance tomorrow night, so I'll keep you posted... and myself updated.
Today, we went to Berchtesgarden which is the birthplace of the Third Reich and where Easy Company spearheaded the liberation/taking of the symbol of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. it was a surprise birthday present for Hitler by the party and it is an elaborate network of buildings that pretty much served as his home away from home and vacation getaway, as well as his bunker and hideout. It is in the beautiful mountains of the Bavarian Alps which just breathtaking scenery, as shown in the miniseries.
We were led today by David Harper, a leading historian on the birth and demise of the Third Reich. He got us into the chancellor building which is now being restored into private condos but still carries the Nazi eagle, sans the swastika. We also went by the Berchtesgarden Hof, the hotel in which the scene in the movie in which Easy officers take it and take all of Hitler's goodies like the silverware and plates took place. It is also run down and like many of the other buildings here in Berchtesgarden, the government doesn't necessarily want to tear it down, but don't want to restore it since the whole country is trying so hard to cover the traces of a period that they feel so shameful about. They are also making it very difficult for individuals to buy and restore these buildings and letting the natural deterioration take over.
David then took us to the museum that also houses the bunker that Hitler built for himself. Overall, Berchtesgarden had over 150 buildings, since when Hitler came here (which was regularly) he took his entire gang with him. Clowns like Goring, Himmler, Hess, and all those other schmucks came here to rest/vacation/drink stolen wine while looking at stolen art/plan military movements/plan other very bad things. Thus, the entire SS would have to travel with them and so this whole area is a concentration of evil within a few square miles.
This was one place that one could not deny being a Nazi as Major Winters says in the miniseries b/c one needed to be invited to live here and had to be a high ranking Nazi or trusted SS staff. I could not help but think that I was even amongst some of these criminals whenever I saw an elderly German man walking by. I know I'm being very unfair but my resentment towards them was hard for me to keep inside... but I managed to avoid getting into a fight with 80 year old men.
The bunker was made of solid concrete and could support Hitler's 200 closest friends for about six months. It had underground apartments, war room, all the defenses you could ask for, an elaborate network of telecommunications (couldn't get Nextel coverage though), air conditioning and heating, and generators up the lederhosen.
There was some graffiti on the walls from the brave troops of the French 2nd Armored Division which came AFTER the US 101st Airborne Division secured the area by taking out the last of the Nutzi fanatics but claim they took Berchtesgarden. As Major Winters says in his present day video (he pre-recorded comments relevant to each area we went in and the bus has been playing his interview before we get off to see each site) - if the French took Berchtesgarden, how come all the loot like Hitler's silverware and photoalbums are with 101st veterans???
Most of the architecture outside the original buildings are that of Roman style. Hitler had modeled this 1,000 year Reich on the Roman empire and it influenced architecture, his speeches, and of course the raising of the right arm which is now illegal in Germany.
I have been following Neil the ex-United pilot and Walt from Bethesda any time we stop for a meal. They have great instincts for good places to eat and today was no different. Some Jagerstintzel today which was very good, following discoveries of the Greek place in Haguenau, the goulash place in Bastogne, and the French place in Paris. The pressure is on them to find a good place and be perfect for the trip tomorrow for lunch in Austria where we are going to Zell Am See for the day. Zell Am See was the place Easy occupied after the war and where Winters is seen taking a swim in the final episode of the movie.
Tomorrow night, dinner is at the Eagle's Nest where Hitler had his parties. We're going to invade his place and have a party and he's not invited. We'll mess it up real good.
I thought we can do a talent show for our Dirty Thirty (our nickname for ourselves). It will start with a fashion show put on by our ugly American friend who has bought everything in site including today an Austrian style jacket which he will look ridiculous in when he gets back to LA. He has bought a jump suit, jump boots, a whole wardrobe during a walking tour of Strausbourg (yes, he wore the new suit and rejoined us on our walking tour if you can believe that) in addition to that jacket. Time for a lederhosen tomorrow...
Speaking of which, I will leave you for now with a funny image I saw today at the museum and a great movie line I thought of when I saw this cat - picture an elderly, short, graying German guy wearing a full lederhosen outfit.
"I see you are learning German"
"yes, I am. do you know any German?"
"oh yes, I know a little German. He's standing right over there." - pointing to a guy dressed just like him waving and jumping up and down (From "Top Secret").
Anyway, take care and "our feet are same."
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