Reflections on a Week in Germany (Munich and Berlin)

July 7, 2014 | By | COMMENTS

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When I was a teenager in Florida, on a Jewish Community Center trip to EPCOT, I remember running past Germany as fast as we could. “Germany, ahhhh!” we yelled, racing past the Bavarian buildings over to the Norway ride with the trolls and the waterfall. As naive as we were, there was something instinctual about our resistance to Germany. We were Jews growing up in a generation where the Holocaust was hammered into us daily; in Hebrew school, in history class, on TV, in movies, everywhere we went, we were reminded that 6 million Jews were killed by Nazis in Germany. “Never forget” we were told again and again. No wonder we ran so fast.

Going to Germany, then, was never high on my bucket list–even as I got older. A few things piqued my interest–mostly the culture of the Cabaret era (I’ve been reading Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories)–but not enough to ever plan a trip there. Then Craig was invited to the Munich Film Festival and because I was going to be in Europe with him anyway for the Edinburgh Film Festival, I decided to make my way over to meet him there after he came back from the Nantucket Film Festival. It wasn’t until I was changing trains in Stuttgart, though, listening to the gruff announcements over the P.A. system, that I really let it sink in that I was in Germany. No running past it this time.

Upon arrival in Munich, Craig took me to a beer garden (pretty much an inevitable first stop):

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We shared a Flammkuchen, also known as a Tart Flambee, which is a cracker-like pizza topped with creme fraiche and speck:

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The scene at the beer garden was lively, especially because of the World Cup:

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But the rowdiness and the occasional group of men bursting into song did little to quell my Germanophobia: wasn’t it at a beer hall just like this that Hitler staged his Beer Hall Putsch that landed him in prison and began his rise to power?

As we made our way into the main square and beheld lovely sights like this:

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And this:

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I couldn’t really connect with their beauty or architecture. Instead, I was thinking “this is where Nazis held their rallies.” The whole place felt positively haunted, as far as I was concerned, with its history; a history that I’ve been thinking about and living with (like so many other Jews) for the large majority of my life.

Which is why it came as a huge relief to discover, as we began to make friends at the festival, that Germans are well aware of their history. They struggle with it on a daily basis; it’s something they start learning about young too. Most of the people our age talked about going to concentration camps on class trips from a very early age. They talked about national shame; about German players not singing their national anthem at the games, how only recently have they been allowed to wave the German flag.

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It was the people that we met, those first few nights in Munich, who really opened me up to Germany. Starting with Ina, our Festival liaison, a totally delightful person full of energy and intelligence and a willingness to talk about anything, especially German history (that’s her on the right; Kitty, on the left, made a documentary about the Ukraine that sounds totally fascinating):

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Ina toured us all around Munich; taking us to a Bavarian restaurant for dinner:

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(Notice the Dirndl on the waitress.) Where we ate pretzels:

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I had a delicious pork knuckle with sauerkraut:

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While Ina had a Bavarian salad which was, hilariously, almost all meat:

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For dessert, we shared a perfect apple strudel:

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The next day, Ina took us all over Munich. We went to the Viktualienmarkt in the center of town, where we saw lots of sausages:

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Hid from a rainstorm:

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Saw Edelweiss (made me want to write a song about it; title suggestions?):

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Beautiful vegetables:

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Turkish delight:

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Which Craig sampled when the sun came out:

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We also saw a beautiful church with paper birds suspended from the ceiling:

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That afternoon, at the festival, a woman named Irene–who’d seen the movie the day before–came back to see it again, she enjoyed it so much:

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Christina, a local TV personality, conducted the Q&A with Craig after the movie:

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The German audience was very respectful; applauding only after the credits ended and asking very thoughtful questions:

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That night, we went with Christina and her boyfriend Lou to dinner at the Hofbrauhaus, a Munich institution:

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Here’s Lou and Christina at the table:

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Here’s a pretzel with a mixture of butter and cheese on it, a mixture known as Obazta:

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And a platter of sausages and sauerkraut that Craig and I shared, with excellent German mustard:

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It was there, at that dinner, that we really got into it about history. Christina talked movingly about German shame, about the challenge the country faces of confronting its history while also trying to move ahead. At some point, I mentioned that I’d been thinking about going to Dachau–only a 30 minute train ride from Munich–but that I was on the fence about it. I felt like I’d seen so many movies about the Holocaust, read so much about it, that going to a concentration camp would probably feel similar to going to the Holocaust Museum in D.C., something I’ve done several times. Did I really need to go in person?

Christina said “absolutely yes.” So, the next day, Craig and I decided to make the journey to Dachau.

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It’s strange to write about this on a food blog, especially since the overwhelming feeling I had there was one of nausea. It was so overwhelming, going there. Nothing could have prepared me for it. Until you walk through those gates, with those horrific words written there (translating to “Work Makes You Free”), you can’t really know how it feels to stand in a place with such a gruesome history. It made me feel physically ill, it really did. It wasn’t a spiritual or psychological feeling, just a physical one. I felt so sick there.

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These pictures don’t do it justice. There were so many awful things to confront there. A gas chamber. A crematorium. Most haunting of all, at least for me, was a video a soldier made who helped liberate the camp. It’s a color video, playing in the main museum, and it’s real footage of what he found when he and his fellow soldiers entered Dachau at the end of the war. What you see, when you see that, is true horror. The images are unshakeable; unbelievable, worse than the worst thing that you can think of.

Leaving the camp, I didn’t feel a sense of catharsis. I didn’t feel healed or like I’d reached a new understanding. I mostly still felt sick; sad and sick.

But I also, somehow, faced the elephant in the room. After feeling hypersensitive to the history under the surface everywhere I went in Munich, we had confronted that history head-on. There it was, for everyone to see.

It set the stage for the second half of our trip, a half that I enjoyed so much, I can’t wait to tell you about it; that was our trip to Berlin.

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Perhaps it’s symbolic, I don’t know, but the first meal that we ate in Berlin was a meal at our hotel at an Israeli restaurant called Neni.

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Hummus, a carrot and beet salad, and a cured salmon salad:

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Eating Israeli food as our first meal in Berlin gives you a sense of the city’s stance: it’s a city that’s aware of the past, but a city that’s far more interested in the present.

It’s a truly hip, modern city. Hard-edged, artistic, open, exciting. Our hotel–the 25 Hour Hotel Bikini–definitely set the stage. Luisa recommended it and we instantly loved it:

Everything about this hotel, from the room:

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To the bakery downstairs:

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Was sleek, stylish and cool.

At the top of the hotel, is a super popular bar called Monkey Bar:

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So called because it overlooks the monkey cage at the zoo next door:

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We spent lots of time watching those monkeys and baboons from an outdoor promenade that connects the hotel to a hipster mall.

That first night, we walked to a restaurant that I discovered on Luisa’s Berlin restaurant blog; a place called Renger-Patzsch:

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Going here, I felt like we’d hit the jackpot. A real, authentic Berlin restaurant overrun with locals. Not a tourist in sight (except for us).

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We ordered a set menu for $32 Euros that came with pike perch, vermouth, tarragon, and leeks:

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“Roasted suckling pig shoulder from the Hohenloher pig with mustard sauce, mountain lentils, and potato noodles.”

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And a chocolate tart with apricots and vanilla ice cream:

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All of it was scrumptious and lovingly made; like the food you’d get at a talented friend’s dinner party which, for me, is the highest compliment.

The next day, we did some sightseeing:

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Went to the DDR Museum and learned all about East German history (boy, Germans have lots of dark history) which led us, eventually, to the Berlin Wall.

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There, we watched videos of people trying to escape through windows of houses that were right on the border. That was a whole other element of our trip: hearing first-hand stories of growing up in the east, of the Stasi, arrests, etc. History is unavoidable when you go to Germany.

To lighten things up, I bought this Angela Merkel juicer from a store close by:

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And took this picture of currants and gooseberries which were oh so pretty:

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That night, we met up with our friend Anke who lives in Berlin (we met her through our friend Chris in New York) who took us on a walk around Krumme Lanke (Lake) near the Grunewald Forest.

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It was positively gorgeous, though, once again, history reared its head: it was near this lake that Hitler and his cronies came up with the Final Solution. A fact that somehow had extra resonance when we saw this on a bench (though Anke quickly translated it for us; apparently it says “No Place for Nazis.”)

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Dinner that night was on the lake, at a lovely spot where I ate pickled herring with cream sauce–a total delight (and similar to something that my dad loved eating growing up):

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Craig loved his whole-roasted trout:

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Thank you, Anke, for such a great night.

The next day we were real lucky ducks because the previously mentioned Luisa of The Wednesday Chef, and author of My Berlin Kitchen, cooked us lunch!

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I felt especially lucky to be there because Luisa–well at least the book version of her–was my constant companion on the first leg of my trip; I devoured My Berlin Kitchen all through Edinburgh, London, and Paris. It’s a really moving book; especially moving for me because I knew her back in New York, during the unhappy section of her story, and now here I was seeing her in her happy place, here in Berlin.

The lunch was a stunner: homemade focaccia that positively gleamed, it was so gorgeous.

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It comes from the Saltie Cookbook (I’m a huge Saltie sandwich fan) and chances are Luisa will blog about it soon. We sliced open our bread and topped it with hard-boiled eggs and a lively mixture of olives, beets, parsley, and capers:

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Luisa hit it out of the park with this one and then gilded the lily with a trifle for dessert made with roasted strawberries and German yogurt:

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That meal was easily a highlight of our whole trip to Germany. Thanks, Luisa; so honored to have been in your Berlin kitchen.

From there, Craig and I checked out the extraordinary David Bowie exhibit at the Martin-Gropius-Bau:

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And that night had dinner at Katz Orange, a restaurant recommended to us by several friends:

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It’s a fun place with great atmosphere. The food is good too:

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Next day, our last day in Berlin, we did the must-visits: the Brandenburg Gate.

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The Reichstag:

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The Holocaust Memorial:

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At this point, though, I couldn’t take much more grisly German history.

Which is why our final two stops were so perfect. Stop One: KaDeWe, a Department store that seems pretty generic from the outside.

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But ride up to the food floor, and you’ll want to stay there forever. Look at all these sausages (and this is just one of several cases):

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It’s a food lovers paradise. Vegetables galore:

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Chocolates, champagne, ice cream… you name it, they have it.

Our second stop, basically our final stop in Berlin, was dinner at Lokal in Mitte (recommended by Not Derby Pie). Our walk over was colorful:

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And the spirit of the place captured everything there was to love Berlin. People–gay, straight, male, female, black, white, latino–spilled out the door:

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The hostess, unfazed by the crowd, asked us what we wanted to drink and quickly brought out our new favorite summer beverage (which we experienced all over Germany): an Aperol Spritz.

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My bowl of pasta–homemade noodles, zucchini, tomatoes, etc.–was tasty, if a bit greasy, but it was the atmosphere that made us fall in love with the restaurant; so open and welcoming. At some point, an animal ran past and we all shrieked in horror with our neighbors, debating through the language barrier whether it was a cat or a rat. We said cat, they said rat. “It’s a cat, all right,” said the woman, “only a cat with an ‘R.’”

On our walk home, we discovered this mural of Anne Frank on a wall in an alley:

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Haunting, yes, but somehow–weirdly–hopeful. That’s the main takeaway of my trip; Germany is a place where awful things happened–to all kinds of people–but it’s a place that doesn’t repress that past. The past is right there in the open for all to see and all to learn from. It’s a past that still resonates today, in all kinds of ways, but a past that shouldn’t condemn a country and its people to ignominy forever. Going to Germany may have been low on my list of things to do, but it turns out to have been one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done.

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Categories: Travel

  • Sara

    Great post!

  • NancyRing

    Beautifully written!

  • Ben

    Germany is amazing. Even as someone very much removed from the situation, a Korean-American, I had hesitations before my first trip there. Now, it is absolutely one of my most favorite places in the world.

  • BobYes

    I can definitely remember my first (reluctant) trip to Germany. I, too, grew up with the never forget ethos and had the Holocaust pounded into me in all the places it was pounded into you. I will never forget standing in my first railroad station and hearing “Achtung! Achtung” on the PA system. I froze, and almost got on the train to flee. Since then, I’ve been many times on business, but I’ve never really felt comfortable there. Like you, the Germans I’ve met are absolutely frank about the past and can be warm and wonderful. But yet…

  • BobYes

    I can definitely remember my first (reluctant) trip to Germany. I, too, grew up with the never forget ethos and had the Holocaust pounded into me in all the places it was pounded into you. I will never forget standing in my first railroad station and hearing “Achtung! Achtung” on the PA system. I froze, and almost got on the train to flee. Since then, I’ve been many times on business, but I’ve never really felt comfortable there. Like you, the Germans I’ve met are absolutely frank about the past and can be warm and wonderful. But yet…

  • BobYes

    I can definitely remember my first (reluctant) trip to Germany. I, too, grew up with the never forget ethos and had the Holocaust pounded into me in all the places it was pounded into you. I will never forget standing in my first railroad station and hearing “Achtung! Achtung” on the PA system. I froze, and almost got on the train to flee. Since then, I’ve been many times on business, but I’ve never really felt comfortable there. Like you, the Germans I’ve met are absolutely frank about the past and can be warm and wonderful. But yet…

  • BobYes

    I can definitely remember my first (reluctant) trip to Germany. I, too, grew up with the never forget ethos and had the Holocaust pounded into me in all the places it was pounded into you. I will never forget standing in my first railroad station and hearing “Achtung! Achtung” on the PA system. I froze, and almost got on the train to flee. Since then, I’ve been many times on business, but I’ve never really felt comfortable there. Like you, the Germans I’ve met are absolutely frank about the past and can be warm and wonderful. But yet…

  • Maryann

    Wow. Loved this post. History can be brutal, but also enlightening. Did you not feel a little comforted that the German people are making every effort possible to never let this happen again? They seem to not want to forget what happened, but learn from their past. I can not walk in your shoes as I am not Jewish and did not grow up as you did. I am glad your trip to Germany mostly was a positive one.

  • Maryann

    Wow. Loved this post. History can be brutal, but also enlightening. Did you not feel a little comforted that the German people are making every effort possible to never let this happen again? They seem to not want to forget what happened, but learn from their past. I can not walk in your shoes as I am not Jewish and did not grow up as you did. I am glad your trip to Germany mostly was a positive one.

  • Barbara Lane

    Out of all the places I’ve been in the world Germany is the only place I don’t enjoy the food. I’ve been twice for a period of two months each time, and oy vey – I just couldn’t get on board with German food. And any other type – Italian, Chinese, American, French that I had there tasted just a tad bit off of what I’d get in the home countries, or America. Even McDonalds (yes, I resorted to it because I was so in need of a taste of home) served their burgers with honey mustard instead of yellow mustard. Never before have I encountered a country where I simply do not care for the food.

  • Charlotte K

    It takes courage to go there and find joy.

  • Enmicocinahoy

    Wow… my husband is jew and I wander so much about how much to tell and how much to share… we have been to Europe several times and never to Germany, I guess for the same unspoken reasons you mentioned.
    You gave a whole new frame, thanks!

  • Stephanie

    Fantastic post. I had very similar feelings as you & a very similar experience in Germany as you! Thanks for capturing Germany so well (including physical illness at dachau).

  • AG

    Impressed by your candor (and thought the comments might have included some backlash). My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and I had many of the same experiences you had learning about the Holocaust as a young person, but not the same reaction. Still, I wonder how I’d feel if I visited. I also find it interesting that you chose to post about this, but seem never to write traditional jewish holiday posts. Any reason?

  • Kay

    I’ve never been to Germany, but the Germans that I know (quite a few actually) have been some of the friendliest, most polite, and most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. You are so right–they are frank about their history and they try as hard as they can to repent for what their ancestors did. As someone who is Chinese, I only wish the Japanese had the same attitude towards the atrocities they committed during World War II.

  • Pims

    It is sad that the way history is sometimes taught or pictures in films has such as impact on some of us that we are reluctant to get to know countries and peoples because of that.I lived in Germany and it’s a country I adore.But the stereotypes I often here about Germans, especially in the US (Nazi Tweets during the World Cup???), sadden me. Germans have changed, countries change. Americans have done pretty terrible things to Natives, Belgian colonizers killed Congolese etc…Germans today are a lot more willing to face their past than, let’s say, the French and the Vichy regime.
    Ignorance causes conflict, so let’s get to know others and their culture.

  • Anne

    A journey of a post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anne

    A journey of a post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tess

    You wrote exactly what I was thinking. Every country has its grizzly history and the only difference is that Germany is actually open and honest about the darker sides of its past instead of glossing over them like most countries do. It’s also too bad that the only time Germany pops up in American history is in connection WWI or WWII.

  • Luisa Weiss

    Um, this post made me cry. So beautifully written, so moving. And it was the treat of my week to have you guys over. Come back soon. xoxoxoxoxo

  • Mimi

    Thank you for visiting Germany and giving it a chance. I often struggle with so many paradoxes this country, and Munich in particular, offers: the nexus of past and present, guilt and shame, history and progress. Thanks again.

  • Laura

    I love this blog so so much. Fun and lovely to read, spilling over with humor, joy, and thoughtfulness. And there’s always something unexpected but very welcome and thought provoking, like this important post. Thanks so much for all that you do, Adam! I hope you go on many more trips like this one (and blog about every one!).

  • Cindy

    Great read. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Michael

    Thank you for this post.

    As a German, I would probably say that it is too positive, and that there is still a lot to criticize and improve, but, well, that is probably typically German.

    I admire your willingness to come here despite your misgivings and try to see the country as it really is. That openness is rare, but it makes this blog so enjoyable to read.

  • Anonymous

    This was a difficult post to read. I’m also Jewish and grew up like you. Germany is a place I’ve never wanted to go, and I’m so impressed by your bravery and willingness to try it out. It’s not something I will ever be able to force myself to do, but I’m glad that you were able to find lots of good things there. Thank you for an honest and thoughtful post.

  • Van

    I’m in Berlin for a month and as the American born grandchild of a Holocaust survivor I also had the same feelings the first time I came to Berlin. I think most Jewish folks especially those with a connection to pre WWII Germany have the same feelings. Too bad you weren’t able to try some of the excellent and diverse street food in Berlin although the place you choose are quite good.

  • Van

    also what is the name of the place on the lack?

  • Van

    lake.

  • Claudia Claussen

    Love your post! We’ve been in Berlin two weeks ago, also two nights at the 25hours Bikini and it was marvellous! We couldn’t see as much as you did and I think, i have to turn back soon ;-)

  • Michele

    Wow.

  • Van

    Germany is the only Western European country to commit genocide in Europe. Yes genocide was also committed in the USA and Canada as well as in counties in Eastern Europe and Africa. It should never be downplayed and it will always be part of the countries. It’s trying to downplay it in Germany that has led to the rise of the neo-nazis. Please don’t do it to. Pointing out how other countries are horrible too doesn’t lessen the history of extermination in Germany.

  • Anonymous

    My father was a polish Jew. He came to the US in 1938. Only his mother and sister survived the war. He didn’t speak much about his feelings, although I grew up hearing the stories of my aunt and grandmother. In the early 80′s we were in Poland and my family went to Auschwitz. In a very quiet moment, I saw my dad run his hand down a metal stair rail, and he said softly “uncle leo was here”. I never asked my dad about this, I didn’t need to. It told me all I needed to know about his feelings of loss, and guilt. And pride. I am glad for you, Adam, that you went to Dachau. We should all learn the lessons of those camps.

  • Erin Nissley

    It should be grisly German history … not grizzly, which is a bear. Figured you’d want to know.

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Thanks.

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  • adria tomy

    great and amazing places and beautiful words wrote along memories.

  • http://www.xn--gitthm-fd8b5f.com/ tovanretbk

    Beautifully

  • Alex

    Wonderful, wonderful post!! I love how the food seemed to comfort you and nourish you during some, understandably, horrific history that you faced. Thanks for such an enlightening post!

  • Anonymous

    the Aperol Spritz is actually from the Trentino region of Italy.

  • Jared G

    Wow, what a poignant post. I felt the exact same way when I was there.

  • Kirsten | My Kitchen in the Ro

    Adam, I am very happy to read you enjoyed your trip to my home country after all. I am glad you met locals who shared with you how we Germans feel about our history. They were spot on. Berlin is also one of my favorite cities ever. I used to work there after the wall came down. It would be my preferred city to move back to. Friends of mine also went to the David Bowie exhibition. They loved it, too.

  • Kirsten | My Kitchen in the Ro

    Adam, I am very happy to read you enjoyed your trip to my home country after all. I am glad you met locals who shared with you how we Germans feel about our history. They were spot on. Berlin is also one of my favorite cities ever. I used to work there after the wall came down. It would be my preferred city to move back to. Friends of mine also went to the David Bowie exhibition. They loved it, too.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I’m half German & have spent big chunks of my life there. I appreciate your honesty & respect your apprehension. I’m also really glad you enjoyed the food, because I do, too. I need to find an Israeli restaurant next time I go, because it doesn’t seem like I can eat hummus anywhere else there!

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I too have always avoided Germany — WWI in my case. Great-great grandparents (and the family fortune) went down on the Lusitania. We still have the uncashed reparations checks. But Berlin looks so fabulous … I haven’t avoided it so much as my love of France and lack of funds mean I just keep going back to France …

  • Kim

    Thanks for this post, Adam. I am Jewish and just about everything you wrote about Germany and history resonated with me so deeply – especially, perhaps, the idea of carrying a German bias into my adult life. I know it isn’t fair, and it’s also wildly inconsistent with the way I generally strive to think, feel, and treat others. Anyway, I could go on for quite a bit longer but I won’t – I’ll just say that you gave me a lot to think about, and I am very appreciative. If we ever make it to Germany (and I think that I would like to try), I’ll be revisiting this post for travel tips :)

  • Anonymous

    So glad you were able to get beyond the awful part of German history. Germany was also never high on my list (I am the daughter and granddaughter of survivors) until I met a German woman my age, who invited me to visit her. It changed everything. Being there myself, and meeting young Germans, I could hear just what you described, how dealing with the past for them is a constant struggle that never goes away. I had never thought about how the Holocaust affected them! Only us, because it was all I could think about growing up! Anyhow, being there, and seeing so many poignant memorials, proved to me also that Germany today is a totally different place, not to mention Berlin. There are thousands and thousands of young Israelis living there now, drawn by its openness and tolerance. So, I’m glad you were open minded enough to experience it for yourself!

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    This post is perfect.

  • Charlotte

    Just back from Prague and Budapest and had similar feelings about the history (and the food!) so let me echo – this post is perfect!

  • Chris D

    Another great post! Good work. I liked the good portions of Anke and Craig.

  • Big Red

    OMG!!! You are the only person I’ve ever heard articulate and share one of my biggest traumas that ironically turned into a blessing. I too am Jewish and was terrified of going to Germany lest I began crying tears that would never stop. In the late 90s I bought a cheap ticket to Europe in which I flew into Paris but was required to leave out of Germany and to make matters worse, I had a 24 hour layover there. My plan was to take as many xanax as possible and just sleep the entire time. At some point on the train to Dusseldorf, I woke up and saw the Black Forest as we rolled thru it. I literally gasped it was the most beautiful forest I’d ever seen. Once I got to the airport, I readied myself to sleep on the floor of the airport. Instead I met a sweet African couple who, once heard that I’d be sleeping at the airport, insisted on taking me their house for a home-cooked meal, a shower and a good night’s sleep. They woke up at four in the morn to get me to my flight all the time. They even gave me a traditional African gown as a parting gift. I credit this beautiful experience to Hashem because I turned my expected gruesome, tear-riddled layover into one of the most lovely memorable moments of my life. Thank you so much Adam for sharing this part of your life with us. It feels so good to hear someone else sharing my painful experience and healing epiphanies.

  • Nora

    Wow. As a German, this post really shook me up. So very beautifully written.

    I was born in 1983 and I’ve always wondered how Jewish people today must feel about my country. Your post was very insightful and moving and I could understand every single feeling you were describing. I’m not sure I could’ve done what you did – traveling to a country where relatives of mine suffered so horribly.

    Growing up, we’ve learned a lot about the Holocaust of course, but not just the facts. The teachers in school made an enormous effort to make us actually think about what it meant, and how it’s our responsibility to not ever let it happen again. I remember we read a book in school called ‘The Wave’, in which a teacher tries to prove to his students that discrimination can ALWAYS easily happen, and how it’s not hard to manipulate people into thinking something’s right when it’s completely wrong.

    As a German, I always have a hard time imagining that there was a time when my country was anything but open, liberal and multi-cultural. The Germany I know and the Germany that used to be… I just can’t put those two together in my head. I’ve never been to Dachau or any of those places, but just thinking about going there… I’m not sure I could handle it. I think I’d break down. But at the same time I feel it’s my duty as a German to go there and have that experience and someday when I’m ready I will.

    Our history and the shame we all still feel because of it will haunt us forever, no doubt. I can safely say that I don’t see that as a bad thing at all. Feeling this shame is part of why Germany is what it is today, and maybe – hopefully – it’s okay as a German to be proud of what our country has become.

    I’m glad your experience here wasn’t entirely negative, Adam, and I hope that your potential future visits will bring more and more positive feelings.

    Greetings,

    Nora

  • Deb Reed

    Really loved this post. I think it may be one of your best ever- and that is saying a lot! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

  • Karen@Mignardise

    Thank you, Adam, for articulating that discomfort, that suspicion and that bias against Germany that, as a Jew, I was raised with as well. I’ve always felt ambivalent about visiting the country. The opportunity has never come up, like it did for you. Hopefully it will one day, and I will have a similar, enlightened experience. So glad to hear such positive thoughts about the people there!

  • Anon

    What a fantastic post. Very moving. Thank you for writing it.

  • Cyndi

    Beautiful post. As a Jew I know exactly what you mean about the childhood reactions towards anything German. It was just drilled into us. In the mid-80′s, when I was a college student, my dad invited me on a short trip to Europe which included 3 days in Munich. Lovely city and, honestly, I didn’t really think about the implications. I wish though I had taken up our hosts on their offer to show us the local concentration camp. My dad vetoed it and I didn’t realize it was something I should do. Amazing how physical contact with a place changes everything. Thanks for describing the process so well.

  • Kochtail Berlin

    Hi! You got the Angela Merkel at my shop :)
    I must not have been there that day. I think I would have recognized you. Glad you enjoyed Berlin!
    Joe Diliberto @ http://www.kochtail.de

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  • zeiserl

    “As someone who is Chinese, I only wish the Japanese had the same attitude towards the atrocities they committed during World War II.”

    You do see that you are entirely missing the point, don’t you?

  • Thea

    Thank you so much for this post. All the best from Berlin.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Adam, for articulating that discomfort, that suspicion and that bias against Germany that, as a Jew, I was raised with as well. I’ve always felt ambivalent about visiting the country. The opportunity has never come up, like it did for you. Hopefully it will one day, and I will have a similar, enlightened experience. So glad to hear such positive thoughts about the people there

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for visiting Germany and giving it a chance. I often struggle with so many paradoxes this country, and Munich in particular, offers: the nexus of past and present, guilt and shame, history and progress. Thanks again

  • bret garcia

    Great read. Thank you for sharing this

  • Pamela Hills

    Germany was so amazing was my husbands last tour before retired from AF. we were there 5 years in Bavaria ! Chipped at Berlin Wall and never wanted come back to the States. I make Snitzel and Spatzel allot . Dutchland is Wunderbar

  • Pamela Hills

    Germany was so amazing was my husbands last tour before retired from AF. we were there 5 years in Bavaria ! Chipped at Berlin Wall and never wanted come back to the States. I make Snitzel and Spatzel allot . Dutchland is Wunderbar

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  • Anonymous

    I am sure you have a huge competence in culinary things. ;) Seems like you managed to hit up all the dodgy places. Its kinda strange that you didn’t had any proper turkish food since it is availlable everywhere. Just try to avoid places with a Coca-Cola sponsored store sign if you get the craving for some chow next time you visit the flipside. You’re welcome.

  • knallbrand

    Makes me want to go there…!!