There I met with Frau Dr. Becker-Jàkli, who works at the building( which is now a museum and research center for the National Socialism Time) as a researcher, to discuss my thesis and gain some reading materials. The meeting was truely interesting, I'm learning that the rumors that Germans hate talking about this time is truly rumors. Of course it is a little difficult but there are a lot of Germans who are interested in the time and don't mind sharing their connections (and opinions) to the time to those who are interested.
I learned a little bit about current work against extreme political parties and working to keeping them out of parliment. Germany's political system is a little comparible to the US but one major difference is the proportional party system. This means that when the citizens vote they vote for representatives and for parties, the proportion of the parties that are voted for are then allowed (proportionally) into the Bundestag(an excutive branch of the government). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundestag
After the meeting Su, Hartwig and I visited the museum and old prision of the building. It was a really powerful experience. There were inmates from all over Europe.. French, Russian, German, Polish and both men and women. All over the walls there were little inscriptions from what people would write during their captivity. 40 or more people were crowded into tiny cement cells and treated with terrible brutatity. There were also over 400 executions that took place int he buildings courtyard. Two stories that interested me involved a French woman who was put under arrest while she was pregnant and a Russian man who actually managed to escape. The French woman gave birth to a baby girl while being held in the prision and had her baby taken from her and given to a nunnary. Her inscription on the wall of her cell talked about how she would not give up to the temptations of death because of her little girl.
Give me 5 years and you will not recognize Germany again. -Hitler and a memeber of the US Army
The Russian man fell in love with another inmate in the prision and managed to escape without her through a break in the ceilling in the boiler room. He was never recaptured and the woman he fell in love with survived and was released from the prision. The two ended up getting married and lived a long life.
After touring the prision we headed upstairs and walked through the vast museum. I was truly impressed with how it was put together. There were all sorts of artifacts from the Nazis and tons of photos and information everywhere. They even displayed a timeline on the ground to show how things progressed through each exhibit leading to the liberation. This museum was specifically devoted to the wars effect on Köln and its citizens which was truly amazing to see so much history in one place. We mostly think of the Holocaust in a big group of Germany and Europe but to see it broken down in so much detail for 1 city was truly astounding.
Door leading to Executions
Book with names of lost Köln Jewish citizens
Art which also showed who the figures portrayed
After the museum we went to meet our Art professor at the Köln Cathedral. We spent two hours going through this cathedral and the Church of St. Maria. I had no idea that the Köln Cathedral housed the relic of the Three Wise Men! The Church of St. Maria was very different from the Cathedral but still held its own charm. There we analyzed the differences between a cross in the Cathedral (one of the first human figures after the dark ages) and the cross in St. Maria. I was really taken aback by how violent the cross in St. Maria was portrayed. I had never seen anything like it, it really disturbed me.
After class Su and I grabed a bite to eat and I was left to wait for my train to Salzburg, that left at 10 at night. I traveled the whole night and barely got any sleep but I have stories to tell about Salzburg in the next post!!