Southern Illinois University School of Law–Legal Globalization & Comparative Law 2014

Home » Uncategorized » Munich Justizpalast and Dachau

Munich Justizpalast and Dachau

We arrived in Munich Germany. First impression is that I love this country’s people, food, lifestyle and culture. It took a bit to fully appreciate it but it was affirmed through my time that conspired.

On our visit to the Justizpalast Munich with Dr. Manfred Dauster, we began maybe as a group and individually realize that we needed to know where we were going and when to be where needed to be.  I awoke early to bath and prepare my clothes, made sure to eat and determine where we needed to go. Surprisingly after more then 5 liters of bier the day before, I had no problems in the morning after due to Germany’s purity laws on bier. The bierhaul crawl exposed me to different brews and locations in Munich that I only have photographic evidence of what was consumed at each location along the craw.

We arrived as a group a bit earlier then expected. Dr. Dauster brought along a historian to aid in our tour of the courthouse. As we first walked the building is inspiring from the outside but even more so within where sculptures of men holding it up in the structural support pillars dominating your view in the entrance. Several floors stacked on top of each other comprised of multiple courtrooms all similar in appearance from the hallways and corridors, the rooms were only distinguished by numbered placards.  Clearly between the historian and Dr. Dauster we were given quite a bit of information on the building its history and purpose.  Not to mention how law works in Germany and what one must do to become an Rechsanwalt (attorney) in Germany.

Among the two most memorable lessons/lectures and discussions we had were in the room where white rose organizers were sentenced. An unsettling ire feeling emanated throughout the room and the voice of one of the presiding justices reverberated in my ear that we had seen from the Sophie Shole movie. I was so thankful at that moment and grateful to have studied in the United States, Hawaii especially where the free flow of thought and philosophy emanated lectures, discussions and academia. These innocent people who were sentenced to death for doing some of the same things I have done in my own country were persecuted in the very room I stood. Granted at the time it was illegal to do that which they had done. But none-the-less an appreciation for their purpose and cause was greatly respected. Words can not begin to detail that respect and attempt to understand.

We were delightedly able to prod the mind of the historian giving us a better perspective of what happened in the room and in Germany at and around the time of WWII Munich. Giving myself a better understanding of military oath taking, with respect to my brother and his oaths to our United States constitution and the commander and chief. I tried to draw comparisons and better learn how armed service men and women carry out their duty even when they disagree with the cause. But to the contrary many do stand in opposition like many of the veterans that comprised the White Rose movement. I always tried to comparisons first most from the cultures and knowledge I attain and latter draw differences. Doing so made things seem less foreign and different.

When I believe that we are quite similar in reality and most don’t realize it outside the language and cultural differences. I did however rather enjoy the role of a prosecutor in Germany being an objective fact finder. I admired this function because, I thought it took the sting out of an adversarial system that we operate under in the U.S.  Dr.Dauster gave an enlightening small lecture and question and answer on German court systems and how they’re structured. He gave us a handout that was hand written outlining the structure. Which was particularly interesting because, the German court systems like ours have separate courts for separate functions.

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While on our transit to Dachau I recognized that in certain parts of Germany they’re graffiti problems as well in the U.S. I only know it is illegal because, I asked a local. But after making our way to the Dachau memorial we began to take the guided tour of the labor camp. I had studied in great detail and suffered myself through an entire course on the history of the Holocaust. I knew all to well the depravity of the imprisoned and SS officers that was endured. That course was difficult emotionally on my psyche alone. So I approached the memorial from a different point of view. Certainly I wanted to learn any detail I had not covered in this previous course but I wanted to immerse myself in the memorial to grieve and affirm the atrocities that took place from all ends of the spectrum. After walking in I felt a huge burden come over me as I walked through the gate immediately. I walked the perimeter, listening to the guided tour. Sat in the religious memorials and cried. Moved to the exhibit toured it and the cells where SS officers were punished and kept. I moved to the crematorium passing through the replica of a barrack and after having seen the art displayed in front of the building. Yet again reality punched me in the face as walked through a somber hallow forest where owls hooted and ravens cawed. There was an ire feeling that was rather ominous surrounding the grounds. I read tombstones, where I presumed the remains of the several thousand lay. I then walked to the faculties to see inside crematorium, gas chambers and the old crematorium that was not big enough. Instantly the language of those imprisoned in the crematorium forced to work replayed in my mind. The primary authorities I had read took life again in my mind evoking the depressive anger and disparity I felt the first time when I read those documents. The tortured spirits of Dachau promulgated my mind. When I say tortured spirits I do not mean specters, but all who were imprisoned and operated the camp. I know it was not easy for all to carry out such deeds. Evident in the creation of punishment for SS officers. The physical structure stood as a testament to me that these horrors took place here and it is real. I never doubted that but this memorial only affirmed the magnitude in part, respective to Dachau alone. It was evident that the imprisoned and workers were trapped in a vicious cycle leading no where but to inevitable torture, despair, and hardship that very well ended in death. Those whom were released often returned. This day was emotionally and physically draining. I had little to say. And at this point now I have little more to say because, there is no conceivable way to truly understand the terror and horror that all victims of the Holocaust experienced. Reading primary authority helps but it is still in my opinion does no justice. I have nothing more to be said in relation to this experience.

~BK

 

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