Berlin, Germany

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Berlin has an incredible history just within the 20th century.  This makes it an appealing and fascinating destination for people from all over the world.  It’s a history that feels accessible to us since only 90 years ago, Adolph Hitler was making his move in Berlin with the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich.  The subsequent war ended with a crushing invasion of Berlin by 1.5 million Soviet troops and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker here.  Then the city, and all of Germany was divided up by the victorious allies, kicking off the Cold War with the Soviets eventually building a wall that would divide Berlin.  When the wall came down in 1989, Germany was reunified and there was a huge rush of development in the former East Berlin.

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Hamburg, Germany

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The crest for the city of Hamburg prominently features a castle which represents the Hammaburg that was built by order of Charlemagne around the year 808 AD.  Subsequently the castle was attacked and destroyed, by Vikings, then rebuilt no less than 8 times.  Hamburg really got a boost when, in 1189, Frederick I granted it the status of a Free Imperial City and tax free access into the North Sea.  This made the city a major port in Northern Europe.  In more recent times, they have discovered that in fact, Frederick I died before he could sign this actual document but they were successful in convincing others that he had done so.

HafenCity Waterfront Continue reading

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

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Dachau Entrance

The Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of the Nazi camps opened which was intended to hold political prisoners.  It was the camp that was in operation the longest from March 1933 until April 1945.  It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory about 10 miles northeast of Munich.  Opened by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was expanded to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews and foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded.

Over the 12 years of use as a concentration camp, the Dachau administration recorded the intake of 206,206 prisoners and deaths of 31,951.  Crematoria were constructed to dispose of the deceased.  Visitors may now walk through the buildings and view the ovens used to cremate bodies, which hid the evidence of many deaths.  In early 1937, using prison labor, the SS initiated a expansion of the camp facilities to support 6,000 prisoners.  After 1942, the number of prisoners held there regularly exceeded 12,000 giving rise to extremely unsanitary conditions.  Typhus epidemics became a serious problem as a result of overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, insufficient provisions, and the weakened state of the prisoners.

For visitors there are extensive exhibits including stories of some of the prisoners who were brought to Dachau.  There is a reconstructed barracks building to give visitors an idea of how the prisoners were housed.  On the day we visited, the weather was cold and raining.  Somehow this set the right mood for a place with such a dark and torturous history.

Charleston, SC

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To visit Charleston, we parked at Lake Aire RV Park in Hollywood, SC, about 12 miles southwest of Charleston.  While here we visited downtown Charleston, took a tour out to Fort Sumter and checked out Kiawah Island.

Charleston waterfront

Fort Sumter is on a small island strategically located in the Charleston Harbor.  It was originally one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the United States following the War of 1812.  It was still unfinished in late 1860 when South Carolina seceded from the United States as a statement about state sovereignty regarding slavery.  At this point a garrison of 85 federal troops led by Major Robert Anderson moved to Fort Sumter from nearby Fort Moultrie.  Within 4 months Confederate troops fired the first shots of the Civil War by attacking the Federal troops on Fort Sumter.  Three days later Major Anderson had to surrender Fort Sumter and was allowed to leave with all of his troops.  For the next 20 months Confederate troops held Fort Sumter against repeated assaults from Union cannons and gun ships.  Today it is Fort Sumter National Monument.

While in Charleston, we began to realize we would need to change our travel plans due to Hurricane Matthew.  We had planned to go to Savannah, GA, next but that would put us too close to the coast and too exposed to potential harm from the hurricane.  We postponed our Savannah plans and instead reserved a spot in Statesboro, GA, approximately 55 miles inland from Savannah.  Even 3 days ahead of the storm we had trouble finding an available RV spot.

Next stop:  Statesboro, GA