Tag Archives: youth hostel

On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2014 – Pt. 2: KZ Ravensbrück

Lies auf Deutsch
With the anniversary of the beginning of WW2 today and regional elections, where brown-ish parties have a far too high chance of joining the state parliament, approaching, I decided that it was about time that I posted this second part 2 of my Journey through a bit of Germany 2014. If you remember from part 1 did I try to do something different and selected destinations for the end of the day and stopped wherever I felt like it on my way there. Unlike the first part is this just about one stop, as it deserves its own post.

Day 1/2 – Stop 7: KZ Ravensbrück

The exhibition hall and official entrance

The exhibition hall and official entrance


As part of my Journey Through a bit of Germany 2014 I made a stop at the Memorial for the Woman’s Concentration Camp (KonzentrationslagerKZ) Ravensbrück near Fürstenberg/Havel.
Like I told you with my last post, did I want to explore a bit on my own and Ravensbrück became my first major destination for that and I had made arrangements for accommodation there. After I arrived during the evening, I got my keys and had a brief look inside my room before I set off to Himmelpfort (see last post). When I returned it was still early, but already too late to properly have a look around the exhibitions, so I just strolled a bit through the grounds instead.

Simple yet horrifying

All around the area they have small and large markers telling you what a part used to be. One of the first that caught my attention was for a small way between two buildings. It doesn’t look like anything special, just a plain, small way, broud enough to stand in, that for me became one of the places I felt tears welling up inside me: This simple way was used for executing hundreds of women (“Erschießungsgang” in German). I took a photograph to show you the contradiction of this, but I deleted it, as it didn’t seem appropriate to keep.
Just beside the way is a building that didn’t look like anything special either that housed the crematorium. Three iron – I guess – ovens standing in line, silently telling of their former use. I am honestly one of those people that couldn’t care less about other people’s – at least those I never knew – miseries, but I was barely able to step inside that room. I only had one foot inside and I retracted it as soon as I had seen everything from the door. My deepest respect for those who were able to get inside to put paper crane chains, flowers and other things on the fence that cut off the room for the audience. I couldn’t bear it to get any closer.
A little behind the crematorium is a prison complex. Again I only took a few steps inside to see that it was part of an exhibition and decided to look at it the next day. Just with this short look I already had a feeling of dread and the need to get out again, before disturbing the place any further.

The look towards Fürstberg

The look towards Fürstenberg


Right beside the complex and across from the crematorium starts a long wall with iron lettered names of several different countries. In front of it is a field filled with small gray pebbles and signs claiming:

“This was the place where the gas chamber stood that took the lives of thousands of women and children from more than twenty different countries”

Four memorial plates are put onto what now became a grave field. The first two telling what I wrote above, the third remembering the Sinti and Roma and the fourth remembering the Jewish victims. The field stretches as long as the wall with the country names that beside Germany include: France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Poland and more.
Behind the field is a wall that closes off an actual graveyard, but I only had a look at it from afar.
If you think the contradiction of the way was bad then I probably shouldn’t mention that the first picture on the side is right across from the grave field. A beautiful lake side with Fürstenberg in the background. It is partly morbid, partly fascinating how something like that can be at a place so horrible.

Not really a walk in the park…

When I had looked at the prison complex I had seen a field behind it and on my way back I went off to look at a few more buildings and found the entrance to it. Across a vast field that took about twenty minutes (This is about the time that past from when I last talked about the time with a woman from the staff until I checked it later; it makes more sense that only so little had past, but it felt way longer) to cross, lay the ruins and dug out remnants of the other complexes: Working offices, canteen, prison blocks, roll call area and right at the end a dressmaking shop, one of the few buildings that are still standing. Unlike my initial intention to only have a look at a couple of signs I walked all the way to the last building, trying to not let the bizarreness of the situation and the weird feeling I had, get to me. The field is covered with different kinds of pebbles: Small dark ones marking a pathway, grayish larger ones everything else. Where ever there used to be a building there is now a depression in the ground and there are many (about twenty in total if I remember the sign correctly).

A look at the lake from the entrance

A look at the lake from the entrance building


When I reached the dressmaking shop I had a look at my watch, as I knew the exhibitions would close around six. As I still had about half an hour left until then I went inside and was greeted by creepy statues, created by an artist to symbolize the different inmates. With an even stranger feeling I crossed the whole hallway as well and only had a peek into the adjacent rooms, not daring to get inside. With a feeling as if someone would lock me in any minute I went back to the entrance as soon as possible.
As I didn’t want to return the way I came I left the path and walked behind the building towards were this walk had initially started. Shortly towards the end even came grass again where I could walk beside ruins of other buildings, like a laundry.
When I had left the field I passed a sign that told me that what was around me – the garages – were used by Soviet soldiers after they had freed the camp until 1977 and I remembered my dad telling me that when he was here during his army-time they had to pass these soldiers.

Life beside the camp

Other buildings used by the Soviets were the so-called “Führerhäuser” (Führer houses) that stand on small hills overlooking the camp. Initially the male officers – and I think their families – in charge of the camp lived in them, now one of them  holds an exhibition about the houses‘ history. The inside of the house was far from what it had originally been like, as the Soviets refurbished and remodelled the rooms to house, I think, up to a dozen men. You could still see the original style – that was frankly quite beautiful with lots of wooden ornaments, but not everywhere.
Between them, the barracks and the field is also a large house with a changing exhibition. I can’t remember what it was about when I was there, I kind of only skimmed through it. The building used to be an office I believe – and it’s still partly used as such.
A bit outside of the ground stand the housings for the Guard women, one of them now holds an exhibition about their way of living, their work and their crimes and the others are part of the Youth Hostel, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

All of these buildings are part of the camp, but yet parted from it through distance, walls and gates, showing how different the life must have been for inmates and guards.

Personal impression

If I haven’t overlooked anything then the whole area holds six permanent and one changing exhibition, but during the night I decided to only look through the one in the entrance building and after that the three exhibitions mentioned above.

Walking the ground, with nearly no one else to see was strange and unlike my intention to just explore this on my own, I really would have liked to have someone with me. Though I doubt that even then I would have dared to look at the exhibition that would provide me with faces for the victims, I don’t think I could bear that knowledge.

One of the Guard Houses

One of the Guard Houses


While I wrote the draft for this I sat on my bed in the Youth Hostel (Jugendherberge) I stayed at for the night, in a house that used to house the female personnel of the camp, a Guard House. It was not until I woke up and realized that it was half past Midnight – directly within the ghost hour – and my inability to find sleep again that I decided to type this down right away. Even while my Laptop was making its usual noises I could still hear the unusual ones from outside: Wind or frogs/toads that sounded like broken screams, a dogs bark that reminded me of shouted commands and well the general quietness of the place. It already felt strange from the moment I settled into my room, but during the night it became worse and even though it was nearly half past two I was wide awake and unwilling to return to sleep until I gave in around four.
I’m glad that I cut out Sachsenhausen as second major destination. If I already want someone with me here I doubt going there would have been any different.

Important Heritage

In a lot of German schools it is mandatory to visit at least one Concentration Camp – not mine, at least not my class. While I was there, there were at least two school groups, though one of them was probably a bit too young to understand everything (sixth grade maybe?). They ran around playing hide and seek between the Guard Houses, laughed and were generally quite noisy and that just felt wrong for a place like this.
Students have to get an understanding for history and memorials like this, that keep it alive, are an essential part of this. With all the stuff happening in the world, especially the rising influence of brown-ish parties, it’s more and more important that people learn about our past and most of all learn from it to not let anything like it happen again.
On a completely different note: A couple of KZs were also in the news recently as they ordered that you should not be able to catch Pokémon on their grounds. Hunting Koffings or Weezings (Gas-Based Pokémon) or the Gastly-line (Ghost Pokémon) there, is pretty morbid and inappropriate, but also a bit ironic and fitting. It could encourage people to go there, but most would probably ignore the learning aspect of the trip and simply concentrate on the catching.
Well, this concludes this part of the Journey.
Have you ever visited a KZ? What were your experiences?
Do you think it’s a good idea to keep such places as a memorial?
What you can expect from the upcoming posts:

  • Day 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
  • Day 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
  • (The rest of the Journey: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)

Stay tuned. I hope it wont take me that long to get the other parts up.
PoiSonPaiNter
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Read in English
Mit dem heutigen Jahrestag des Beginns des 2. Weltkrieges  und den Landtagswahlen, bei denen bräunliche Parteien eine viel zu hohe Chance haben, dem Landtag beizutreten, fand ich, dass es an der Zeit ist, diesen zweiten Teil 2 meiner Reise durch Deutschland 2014 zu veröffentlichen. Wenn ihr euch an Teil 1 erinnert, habe ich versucht, etwas anderes zu tun und ausgewählte Ziele für das Ende eines Tages auszuwählen und habe auf dem Weg dorthin, da angehalten, wo mir gefiel. Im Gegensatz zum ersten Teil ist dies nur ein einziger Stopp, da er seinen eigenen Beitrag verdient.

Tag 1/2 – Stop 7: KZ Ravensbrück

The exhibition hall and official entrance

Die Ausstellungshalle und der offizielle Eingang


Im Rahmen meiner Reise durch Deutschland 2014 machte ich einen Zwischenstopp an der Gedenkstätte für das Konzentrationslager (KZ) Ravensbrück bei Fürstenberg/Havel.
Wie ich schon in meinem letzten Beitrag gesagt habe, wollte ich ein wenig auf eigene Faust erkunden und Ravensbrück wurde mein erstes großes Reiseziel dafür und ich hatte mir eine Unterkunft in der Nähe besorgt. Nachdem ich abends angekommen war, holte ich meine Schlüssel und schaute kurz in mein Zimmer, bevor ich mich auf den Weg nach Himmelpfort machte (siehe letzter Beitrag). Als ich zurückkam, war es noch früh, aber schon zu spät, um mich in den Ausstellungen richtig umzusehen, sodass ich stattdessen nur ein wenig über das Gelände schlenderte.

Einfach und doch erschreckend

Überall auf dem Gelände haben sie kleine und große Markierungen aufgestellt, die einem sagen, was ein Teil früher war. Einer der ersten, der meine Aufmerksamkeit erregte, war ein kleiner Gang zwischen zwei Gebäuden. Es sieht nicht nach irgendetwas Besonderem aus, nur ein schlichter, kleiner Weg, der  breit genug, um darin zu stehen, der für mich zu einem der Orte wurde, an denen mir die Tränen aufstiegen: Dieser einfache Gang wurden Hunderte von Frauen hingerichtet („Erschießungsgang“). Ich habe ein Foto gemacht, um den Widerspruch zu zeigen, aber ich habe es gelöscht, da es mir nicht angemessen erschien, es zu behalten.
Gleich daneben befindet sich ein Gebäude, das ebenso wie nichts Besonderes aussah und in dem sich das Krematorium befand. Drei Eisenöfen – glaub ich – stehen in einer Reihe und erzählen leise von ihrer früheren Verwendung. Ich gehöre ehrlich gesagt zu jenen Menschen, denen das Elend anderer Menschen egal ist – zumindest jenen, die ich nie kannte -, aber ich war kaum in der Lage diesen Raum zu betreten. Ich hatte nur einen Fuß drin und zog ihn wieder raus, sobald ich alles von der Tür aus gesehen hatte. Mein tiefster Respekt für diejenigen, die es geschafft haben, hineinzugehen, um Papierkranich-Ketten, Blumen und andere Dinge auf den Zaun zu legen, der den Raum für das Publikum abschneidet. Ich konnte es nicht ertragen, näher heranzugehen.
Etwas hinter dem Krematorium befindet sich ein Gefängniskomplex. Auch hier machte ich nur ein paar Schritte hinein, um zu sehen, dass es Teil einer Ausstellung war, und beschloss, sie am nächsten Tag anzuschauen. Gerade bei diesem kurzen Blick hatte ich schon ein Gefühl von Angst und dem Bedürfnis, wieder rauszugehen, bevor ich den Ort weiter störte.

The look towards Fürstberg

Der Ausblick Richtung Fürstenberg


Direkt neben dem Komplex und gegenüber dem Krematorium beginnt eine lange Mauer mit eisernen Namen verschiedener Länder. Davor befindet sich ein Feld, gefüllt mit kleinen grauen Kieselsteinen und Schildern, die sagen:

„Hier stand die Gaskammer, die tausenden Frauen und Kindern aus mehr als zwanzig verschiedenen Ländern das Leben nahm.“

Vier Gedenktafeln werden auf das heutige Grabfeld gelegt. Die ersten beiden erzählen, was ich oben geschrieben habe, die dritte erinnert an die Sinti und Roma und die vierte an die jüdischen Opfer. Das Feld erstreckt sich so lange, wie die Mauer mit den Ländernamen, die neben Deutschland auch Frankreich, Niederlande, Dänemark, Norwegen, Großbritannien, Spanien, Rumänien, Ungarn, Polen und andere Länder trägt.
 
Hinter dem Feld ist eine Mauer, die einen echten Friedhof abschließt, aber ich habe ihn mir nur von Weitem angesehen.
Wenn ihr denkt, dass der Widerspruch des Weges schlimm war, dann sollte ich wohl nicht erwähnen, dass das erste Bild auf der Seite genau gegenüber des Grabfelds ist. Eine wunderschöner Seeblick mit Fürstenberg im Hintergrund. Es ist teils morbid, teils faszinierend, wie so etwas an einem so schrecklichen Ort sein kann.

Nicht wirklich ein Spaziergang im Park….

Als ich mir den Gefängniskomplex angesehen hatte, hatte ich ein Feld dahinter gesehen und auf dem Rückweg ging ich los, um mir ein paar weitere Gebäude anzusehen und fand den Eingang dazu. Über ein riesiges Feld verteilt, dessen Überquerung ungefähr zwanzig Minuten dauerte (Das ist ungefähr die Zeit, die vergangen ist, von dem Zeitpunkt an als ich das letzte Mal mit einer Frau vom Personal über die Zeit sprach, bis ich sie später überprüfte; es macht mehr Sinn, dass nur so wenig vergangen war, aber es fühlte sich viel länger an), lagen die Ruinen und ausgegrabene Reste von anderen Komplexen: Arbeiterbüros, Kantine, Gefängnisblocks, Appellplatz und gleich am Ende eine Schneiderei, eines der wenigen Gebäude, die noch stehen. Im Gegensatz zu meiner ursprünglichen Absicht, nur einen Blick auf ein paar Markierungen zu werfen, ging ich den ganzen Weg bis zum letzten Gebäude und versuchte, die Bizarrheit der Situation und das seltsame Gefühl, das ich hatte, nicht an mich heran zu lassen. Das Feld ist mit verschiedenen Arten von Kieselsteinen bedeckt: Kleine dunkle, die einen Weg markieren, graue, größere, alles andere. Wo immer es früher ein Gebäude gab, gibt es jetzt eine Vertiefung im Boden und es gibt viele (insgesamt etwa zwanzig, wenn ich mich richtig erinnere).

A look at the lake from the entrance

Ein Blick auf den See vom Eingangsgebäude aus


Als ich in der Schneiderei ankam, schaute ich auf die Uhr, denn ich wusste, dass die Ausstellungen um sechs schließen würden. Da mir bis dahin noch etwa eine halbe Stunde Zeit blieb, ging ich hinein und wurde von gruseligen Statuen begrüßt, die von einem Künstler geschaffen wurden, um die verschiedenen Insassen zu symbolisieren. Mit einem noch merkwürdigeren Gefühl überquerte ich auch den ganzen Flur und warf nur einen Blick in die angrenzenden Räume und wagte es nicht, hineingehen. Mit dem Gefühl, als ob mich jemand jede Minute einsperren würde, ging ich so schnell wie möglich zum Eingang zurück.
Da ich den Weg, den ich gekommen war wieder zurückgehen wollte, verließ ich den Weg und ging hinter dem Gebäude in Richtung des Ortes, an dem dieser Spaziergang ursprünglich begonnen hatte. Kurz gegen Ende kam sogar wieder Gras, wo ich neben Ruinen anderer Gebäude, wie einer Wäscherei, gehen konnte.
Als ich das Feld verlassen hatte, ging ich an einem Schild vorbei, das mir sagte, dass das, was um mich herum war – die Garagen – von sowjetischen Soldaten bis 1977 benutzt wurden, nachdem sie das Lager befreit hatten, und ich erinnerte mich das mein Vater mir erzählt hatte, dass sie, als er während seiner Armeezeit hier war, diese Soldaten passieren mussten.

Leben neben dem Lager

Andere Gebäude, die von den Sowjets genutzt wurden, waren die sogenannten „Führerhäuser„, die auf kleinen Hügeln über das Lager hinwegsehen. Ursprünglich bewohnt von männlichen Offizieren – und ich glaube, ihrer Familien -, die für das Lager zuständig waren, ist jetzt in einem von ihnen eine Ausstellung über die Geschichte der Häuser. Das Innere des Hauses war weit entfernt von dem, was es ursprünglich war, da die Sowjets die Räume renovierten und umgestalteten, um, glaube ich, bis zu einem Dutzend Männer unterzubringen. Man konnte noch den ursprünglichen Stil sehen – das war offen gesagt recht hübsch mit vielen Holzornamenten, aber nicht überall.
Zwischen ihnen, der Kaserne und dem Feld befindet sich auch ein großes Haus mit einer wechselnden Ausstellung. Ich kann mich nicht mehr daran erinnern, worum es ging, als ich dort war, ich habe es irgendwie nur überflogen. Das Gebäude war früher ein Büro, glaube ich – und es wird auch heute noch teilweise als solches genutzt.

Etwas außerhalb des Geländes stehen die Unterkünfte für die Wärterinnen, eine von ihnen zeigt jetzt eine Ausstellung über deren Lebensweise, ihre Arbeit und ihre Verbrechen und die anderen sind Teil der Jugendherberge, aber dazu komme ich gleich.
All diese Gebäude sind Teil des Lagers, aber dennoch durch Distanz, Mauern und Tore von einander getrennt und zeigen, wie unterschiedlich das Leben für Häftlinge und Wärter gewesen sein muss.

Persönlicher Eindruck

Wenn ich nichts übersehen habe, dann beherbergt das ganze Areal sechs Dauer- und eine Wechselausstellung, aber in der Nacht entschied ich mich, nur die im Eingangsgebäude und danach die drei oben genannten Ausstellungen anzusehen.
Es war seltsam, über das Gelände zu gehen als fast niemandem sonst zu sehen war und im Gegensatz zu meiner Absicht, dies alleine zu erforschen, hätte ich wirklich gerne jemanden bei mir gehabt. Obwohl ich bezweifle, dass ich es selbst dann gewagt hätte, mir die Ausstellung anzusehen, die mir Gesichter für die Opfer gegeben hätte, glaube ich nicht, dass ich dieses Wissen ertragen könnte.

One of the Guard Houses

Eines der Wärterinnenhäuser


Während ich den Entwurf hierzu schrieb, saß ich auf meinem Bett in der Jugendherberge, in der ich übernachtete, in einem Haus, in dem früher das weibliche Personal des Lagers untergebracht war, einem Wärterinnnenhaus. Erst als ich aufwachte und merkte, dass es halb nach Mitternacht war – direkt in der Geisterstunde – und meine Unfähigkeit, wieder Schlaf zu finden, entschied ich mich, dies sofort zu tippen. Noch obwohl mein Laptop seine üblichen Geräusche machte, konnte ich die ungewöhnlichen von draußen hören: Wind oder Frösche/Kröten, die wie gebrochene Schreie klangen,  Hundegebell, das mich an gebrüllte Befehle erinnerte und die allgemeine Ruhe des Ortes. Es fühlte sich schon von dem Moment an seltsam an, als ich in mein Zimmer kam, aber in der Nacht wurde es schlimmer und obwohl es fast halb zwei war, war ich hellwach und nicht bereit, wieder einzuschlafen, bis ich gegen vier Uhr nachgab.
Ich bin froh, dass ich Sachsenhausen als zweites großes Ziel gestrichen habe. Wenn ich hier schon jemanden bei mir  haben wollte, dann bezweifle ich, dass es dort anders gewesen wäre.

Wichtiges Erbe

In vielen deutschen Schulen ist es Pflicht, mindestens ein Konzentrationslager zu besuchen – nicht meiner, zumindest nicht meine Klasse. Während ich dort war, gab es mindestens zwei Schulgruppen, obwohl eine von ihnen wahrscheinlich etwas zu jung war, um alles zu verstehen (sechste Klasse vielleicht?). Sie liefen herum und spielten Verstecken zwischen den Wärterinnenhäusern, lachten und waren im Allgemeinen ziemlich laut und das fühlte sich für einen Ort wie diesen einfach falsch an.
Schüler müssen ein Verständnis für Geschichte entwickeln und solche Denkmäler, die sie am Leben erhalten, sind ein wesentlicher Bestandteil davon. Mit all den Dingen, die in der Welt geschehen, insbesondere dem zunehmenden Einfluss von bräunlichen Parteien, wird es immer wichtiger, dass die Menschen etwas über unsere Vergangenheit lernen und vor allem daraus lernen, damit sich soetwas nicht wiederholen kann.
Etwas ganz anderes: Ein paar KZs waren kürzlich auch in den Nachrichten, als sie forderten, dass man Pokémon auf ihrem Gelände nicht fangen darf. Die Jagd auf Smogon oder Smogmog (auf Gas basierende Pokémon) oder der Nebulak-Linie (Geister Pokémon) dort ist ziemlich morbid und unangemessen, aber auch ein wenig ironisch und passend. Es könnte die Leute ermutigen, dorthin zu gehen, aber die meisten würden wahrscheinlich den Lernaspekt des Ausflugs ignorieren und sich einfach auf das Fangen konzentrieren.
Well, this concludes this part of the Journey.
Have you ever visited a KZ? What were your experiences?
Do you think it’s a good idea to keep such places as a memorial?
Nun, damit ist dieser Teil der Reise beendet.
Hast du schon einmal ein KZ besucht? Was waren deine Erfahrungen?
Hältst du es für eine gute Idee, solche Orte als Gedenkstätte zu behalten?
Was ihr von den kommenden Beiträgen erwarten können:

  • Tag 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
  • Tag 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
  • (Den Rest der Reise: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)

Bleibt dran. Ich hoffe, dass es nicht so lange dauert, bis ich die anderen Teile fertig habe.
PoiSonPaiNter

On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2014 – Pt. 1

As my plans for a visit to London are thickening and I’ve already talked a bit about travelling this year (Most ridiculous experiences, Worst experience), is it high time that I catch up with my travel logs, so here is the first part from my Journey through a bit of Germany 2014.

A different experience

That year I thought I’d try something different by travelling a part of my Journey by myself. I wanted to experience what it was like to not be confined to anyone not willing/able to participate or waiting for me to pick them up/drop them off.

So, what did I do?

For the first three days of my vacation I selected destinations for the end of the day (2 youth hostels and my aunt’s place in this case) and just stopped everywhere I felt like stopping along the way.
Through this I wanted to explore all those things that I had noticed while driving by but never had the chance to actually look at. And it felt like I stopped a lot of times.

Day 1:

Start: Neubrandenburg
Destination: Youth Hostel Ravensbrück, Fürstenberg/Havel

Stop 1: Prillwitz

When you drive down the B96 (B = Bundesstraße/Federal Highway) you see quite a bunch of brown signs beside the road; each one advertising a local cultural place. The first one I saw was for the Jagdschloss (Hunting Lodge) Prillwitz  and the Schloss (Manor) Hohenzieritz, so I made a detour.
Before I go into more details about this stop I’d like to add a few thoughts on the translation:
In German we often use the word Schloss to describe different larger buildings that were mainly inhabited by nobles and the actual translation would be castle. However, most people associate castles with high towers and maybe even draw bridges and stuff, but most of the German castles aren’t like that. So in case of the Jagdschloss I chose the term Hunting Lodge, while the other one feels more like a Manor. If you know a better term to describe those two, let me know!
Arriving in Prillwitz I first looked for a place to park my car, which I found beside the old church. It is a simple and quite shabby looking church, but with the coat of arms on the benches, grave plates and the carved mural (?) behind the altar it was still quite charming.


Still, my actual goal was to take a look at the Jagdschloss, but unfortunately it was closed and I could only take a glimpse at it through the trees and hedges. It didn’t look as fancy as I would have expected and I didn’t like that it was closed.
Realising that, I went a bit alongside the area of the Lodge and found a lake behind it. Just in the middle of it was an artificial island that was buzzing with birds that I do believe were either seagulls or cormorants.
After that I turned back to the road and went on to

Stop 2: Hohenzieritz

The Manor in Hohenzieritz used to be the residence of the (grand) duke Karl (Charles) II. of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and his family, but he himself wasn’t really what made this place important. It was his daughter Luise (Louise) whose name is still deeply interwoven with it.
Luise was not just a duchess, she married beyond her rank and became the wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm I. of Preußen (King Frederick William I. of Prussia). She was a well loved ruler and her death at 34 was devastating to her family. Therefore her father created a memorial in her death room in the Manor.
You can still visit the memorial and some other rooms of the Manor for a small entrance fee , but most of it is used by an office of the Müritz National Park. In an adjacent building you could also see the remains of the exhibition from the anniversary of the memorial in 2013. I looked at both things and at some point I felt a bit ridiculed by the repetitive description. I understood after the first time that there was the memorial of Queen Louise of Prussia in Hohenzieritz, I didn’t need to be told that it was for several more times…
Behind the Manor there is a huge park. It is quite beautiful and tranquil and I would have liked to explore it more, but as the sun was burning down on me and the distances seemed rather far I only looked at a few places. While walking through it I thought about taking my parents – especially my Mum – there, as I am certain they would (have) enjoy(ed) it. For a moment I rested in one of the rose hedge constructions and made notes for this post, while enjoying the quietness of the place – except the buzzing of bees and bumblebees.

Stop 3: Weisdin

After that I returned to the main road and continued down and made couple of minor stops. In Weisdin I wanted to look at the church – I really like looking at churches -, but it was closed and instead I went a bit down a side road and found a small Manor at the end of a pebble road. That one still seems to be in private usage, as I saw sun loungers in the backyard that also had direct access to a lake.
Also beside a lake was one of the many private accommodations you have in the area. Whenever I drove by I saw the sign advertising it and wondered who would actually stay in a place that close to the road and honestly a bit creepy looking. Curious as I am, I stopped and asked what exactly they were offering. Confused at first the owner was quite nice and showed me the small bungalows that looked directly onto the lake behind the house. The bungalows reminded me of the way most Lauben (small houses in gardens, but not as big as the translation summer house might suggest) I know are build. For 5 to 15 Euro you cloud rent them and even get a rowing boat as well. If anyone is interesting in such a thing: Just let me know. 😉

Stop 4: Neustrelitz

Another town that is deeply associated with Louise and her family is Neustrelitz which not just has the Neustrelitz Manor (Schloss Neustrelitz), with the Manor Park (Schlosspark), but also several other places I did not visit.
What I did take a look at – or at least tried – was the cemetery church, but too many people were lingering around and I only admired the architecture from the outside. Interestingly the cemetery itself seems to have quite a number of mausoleums or buildings similar to that.
In the end I went on and decided to get some lunch in the restaurant „Am Glammi“ (At the Glammi; with Glammi being a shortened nickname for the Glambecker See/Lake) overlooking the Glambecker Lake. Unusual for me I even decided to sit on the porch and order a fish dish. I can’t say I regret that decision. 😉

Stop 4 1/2: Godendorf (Ortsteil/district: Scheidemühle)

On leash/lead area for dogs and grumpy guests.

On leash/lead area for dogs and grumpy guests.


The next stop wasn’t really a stop but more of a not-wanting-to-get-lost-and-finding-something-funny-instead kind of thing. I actually wanted to reach the Müritz National Park, but the entrance didn’t want to appear before me, though through this I came across the Hilly & Billy Town ranch.
At first I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the entrance sign to a ranch in the middle of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern that was something I did not expect to encounter.
So I had to stop.
I parked in the ranches parking lot and went on to take a look around. Soon I was greeted not just by funny signs (see picture), but also a quite nice and large dog (I think some kind of Dogge/Mastiff?).
Soon my looking around was discovered as I got closer to the inn on the grounds and – I think it was the owner – chatted me up, asking if they could help me.
She told me that you could rent bungalows on the ground, participate in riding lessons or ride a pony or bring your own horse for tours. Pretty convenient for a holiday for a rider. Though not for me then. 😀

Stop 5: Fürstenberg/Havel

Isn't it stunning?

Isn’t it stunning?


For quite some time now the church in Fürstenberg had caught my attention while passing by it on our way to Berlin. From the outside it looks stunning, as it thrones above the market place and now I finally had the chance to see it for myself.
As I needed to drive a bit further to reach the hostel I parked my car in a parking lot near the turn and walked towards the church. In that short distance I could personally experience why the inhabitants of Fürstenberg want the highway (B96) out of their town. It’s no fun walking beside the road on a small walkway while trucks pass by directly beside you… For twenty years the initiative „B96 raus!“ tries to get rid of the highway with little to no success and for their sakes, I really hope they will succeed one day.
After a short walk in the sun I finally made it to the church. I enjoyed the view from the outside for a moment, circling around it before I entered through the main gate.
Well, I was quite disappointed.
On the inside the church tries to be semi-modern. It has a few abstract paintings and murals, modern chandeliers and a simple wooden organ.
Not at all what I was expecting. 🙁
To overcome this I got myself some (self-made) ice cream and went to the harbour, sat down on a bench and ranted at my Mum over the phone…
After that little break I drove to the Hostel and checked in before I went to my last stop.

Stop 6: Himmelpfort

Remember when I told you about writing to Santa when I was a kid? Well, Himmelpfort is the place I wrote to.
But long before Santa settled here there were monks that not just founded the local monastery, but also gave the village its name.
As two monks stood on a nearby hill they looked up to where Himmelpfort now lies and were awestruck by the light falling down before them and declared that this  certainly was the gate to heaven (Himmelpfort or Himmelspforte means Heavens‘ Gate or in Latin: coeli porta). And thus they founded their monastery and from it and around it the town was build.


By now there is only the ruin of the monastery left. Beside it now stands a church, a bell and even a small labyrinth. Within the church you can find the Coat of Arms of the family von Trott (Trottsche Wappen) and according to the flyer from the church its origin is similar to the legend of the Merseburger Raven that I mentioned in one of my stories over at DF.PP Entertainment, but with a nicer twist as the people who were accused of stealing the family jewellery were not killed, like the ones from the other legend. Still, both families decided to include the thievish animal into their Coat of Arms.
Nearby is also a lake that has some more stories to it regarding a greedy fisherman, but I wont go into more detail here.
All in all a quite a beautiful side this whole area.
But let’s get to the interesting stuff: The Santa Clause Post Office.
The Post Office consist of a letterbox outside of the main house which includes offices for the helpers, a restaurant and I believe some rooms for travellers. In the yard behind it there is Santa’s House and I really couldn’t resist taking a look around.
The house is stuffed with Christmas trinkets, memorabilia and all thinks Chrismas-y. To see this in the summer was a bit weird, but well, I chose to go there that time of the year. 😉
In the winter months there are all kinds of events and a Santa will be around for visitors, but of course not during the summer.
So after I got some refreshment I followed a couple of elderly people into a herb garden nearby and saw one of the largest Insect Hotels I ever came across – needless to say I got my dad a small one for Christmas that year.
 

Stop 7: Ravensbrück

After exploring Himmelpfort I went back to the Hostel and already did some first exploring on the side of the KZ (concentration camp), but I’ll talk about this experience in a separate post.
This concludes day one of this part of the Journey. I hope it wont take me that long to get the other parts up. I decided to split it here as the log was already quite long and the other days would have made it even longer.
What you can expect from the upcoming posts:

  • The KZ Ravensbrück
  • Day 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
  • Day 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
  • (The rest of the Journey: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)

Stay tuned.
PoiSonPaiNter