Berlin Day 2
Day 2 - A bitterly cold but sunny morning. We first took a drive out of the city to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp near the village of Sachsenhausen. Our guide took us on a full tour of the remains of the camp site, taking in the various memorials, exhibits and physical remains. Despite the sunshine, the wind blowing across this large open site was biting. Several of the girls commented on how appropriate it was to visit such a place in such uncomfortable conditions, and how, despite our warm layers of winter clothing, we were still frozen and how they couldn't imagine how the inmates of the camp had survived worse temperatures dressed only in striped pyjamas.
After this sombre visit it was time to head back to the city for our next stop: the Olympic Stadium. This recently restored sports stadium played host to the 2006 world cup final. In 1936 it was the venue for the most infamous games in Olympic history, where the Nazi state turned the games in to a propaganda showcase for their nation. The girls could witness the spot where African-American athletic legend Jesse Owens won four gold medals for the USA and the podium from where Adolf Hitler declared the games open. After some much needed coffee, cakes and souvenir buying it was time to move on.
Our final visit of the day was to the pretty and quiet suburb of Wansee. Here, down a nondescript residential road, we visited a grand but not particularly interesting villa overlooking a lake. It was what took place inside the villa that is of enormous historical significance. Here in early 1942, a secret conference took place among two dozen of Nazi Germany's most senior government officials and, over the course of a three hour meeting, which included a buffet lunch, the decision was taken to murder 11 million European Jews. The house is now a discreet and thoughtful museum to the holocaust with lots of interesting photos and exhibits on display. The actual conference table is set out as per the meeting itself with copies of the minutes of the meeting placed at each seat as if this was a company board of directors meeting rather than the history's greatest crime scene.
After this it was time to head back to the hotel, after a quick supermarket sweep for the girls to stock up on goodies for their rooms. After a dinner of Spaghetti bolognaise, we headed out for a game of ten-pin bowling - much needed light relief after such a day.