Monday, August 15, 2011

"Forgive but never forget."

There are several museums and memorial sites across the world that are intended to serve as a reminder of the Holocaust and the millions of victims. During our travels over the last few months we have been able to see three very touching sites.

The first was the Gestapo Prison in Cologne. From 1935-1945 this building was the Gestapo headquarters for the district of Cologne. The prison area in the basement remains almost exactly how it was during that time and is said to be one of the best kept prisons of its time. Thousands of innocent victims were tortured and murdered in this building. I believe there are almost 2,000 inscriptions on the walls, many telling stories of persecution. This was by far the most moving of the three sites. We did not take pictures so if you are interested in seeing the tiny cells that often held 30 prisoners, you can check out a few pictures here.

The second site was the Corrie ten Boom Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands. If you are not familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom (which I was not until we visited the museum) she and her family hid Jews and others from the Nazis in their home. The Ten Boom's usually had 4-6 people hiding in their house. Below are a few pictures of the small hiding place which was hidden behind a false wall in the linen closet.

The Ten Boom family was caught and sent to concentration camps. Corrie was the only family member to survive and went on to write a bestselling book about her experience. You can read the full story here.

The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation in Paris was the last site we visited. It is a memorial to the 200,000 French who were deported to concentration camps and never returned. The site is underground just behind Notre Dame, and was designed to feel a bit claustrophobic. When you enter the underground area there is a long hall directly across from you with an eternal flame at the end to symbolize hope. The walls along this hall are filled with 200,000 lighted crystals, one for each French citizen who died in the concentration camps.

"Forgive but never forget."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Leaning Tower of Delft

Delft's Oude Kerk (Old Church) is a beautiful church in the center of town. There are two main churches in Delft, the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk (they like to keep it simple I guess). Below is a picture of the bell tower on the Oude Kerk.

This leaning tower of the Oude Kerk was added to the church between 1325-1350 and it is believed that it was built on a filled in canal which probably explains the lean. It houses a bell weighing over 19,000 pounds which can now only be rung during very special occasions because of the lean.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Saga Continues....

Sorry for the lack of updates we have been traveling and hope to get you filled in on our newest adventures soon.

Our quest to find every Hawk Fan/Iowan in Europe has continued in full stride over the past month or so.

Encounters include:

Paris and at the American Cemetery in Normandy, which we just got back from and will blog about when we recover.

Cologne, we met a young man from Prairie High School wearing an Iowa Baseball shirt.

A store in our small village (like a walgreens) where we met some fellow Hawk fans in the checkout line.

Haarlem, we ran into a pack of Iowan's none of which were traveling together and are seen in the photo below.  We were heading into a museum that only allows 15 people in at once.  The couple noticed my Hawkeye polo and mentioned they were from Grimes.  As we talked about Iowa a middle aged guy showed up and he had taught at Iowa State.  As we were all talking a young man showed up and he was from Ankeny.  We then all went on the museum tour together.

The couple, the middle aged man in red, and the young man in green as we enter the museum.

On Iowa, Go Hawks