by Bob Sparrow
All of Day 3 is essentially used up getting on the boat and to seeing how well our ‘Unlimited Drink Package’ works. We take a bus from the hotel to the port, get on our ship, the Star, and head to one of 15 or so bars on board. Sorry, I’d like to tell you more about it, but I don’t really remember too much more after that. But I do know that Norwegian Cruise Lines got the raw end of the deal when they allowed each of us couples to purchase unlimited cocktails for 9 days for only $250. We spent that before we waved goodbye to The Little Mermaid.
The morning of Day 4 we cruised into the port of Warnemunde, Gemany, where we got on a train and went to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which is about an hour outside of Berlin. I’m sure most of you have read accounts or seen movies or documentaries on TV about German concentration camps. I will tell you, and those who have been to one know this, it is noting like being there. The feeling I got as we were toured around the camp and told the many gruesome and heartbreaking stories, was visceral. As I stared out over the expansive grounds, saw the weathered watchtowers where machine guns mowed down anyone trying to escape and learned of the harsh day-to-day agony that these people went through, I tried to imagine myself experiencing what they went through. We visited the gas chambers and crematorium, saw the gallows where dissidents were publicly hanged and walked through the barracks to see the unlivable living conditions in which the prisoners lived. I could not imagine this example of man’s inhumanity to man, and yet, it wasn’t that long ago. These Nazi bastards were some sick sons-of-bitches.
Sachsenhausen was not just a camp for Jews, it held any enemy of the state, foreign and domestic, which included gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped, enemy soldiers and essentially anyone who was not in lock step with the Third Reich. It was a very moving and disturbing experience.
After nearly three hours there, we got on our bus and continued on into Berlin where we made several stops along the Berlin Wall, including ‘Check Point Charlie’ which is now Tourist Trap Charlie. As we traveled along ‘The Wall’, our guide told us of the many stories of families being separated and people being shot as they tried to escape East Germany. We toured through the city stopping at several iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag government building and the Holocaust Memorial. Because much of Berlin was destroyed during the war, many of the buildings are new and the city was bustling with both locals and tourists. But for me, the atrocities of Sachsenhasen still lingered and hung like a dark cloud over the rest of the day.
The ‘Unlimited Drink Package’ came in handy as we arrived back at the ship for dinner.
Next: Day 4-5-6 Estonia and Russia