This tour charts and follows the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis from the end of the Great War to 1933 and beyond. It is really the prequel to Berlin, a tour of which can be added to complete the experience.
We start with a walk through the centre of Munich following the route taken by the November 1923 "Putsch". We start from the site of the former Burgerbraukeller, now a hotel, and across the river Isar and into the city. Entering under the Isar Tor we encounter the Torbrau Hotel where the infamous SS was founded in the basement and had its first headquarters. We will see the Hofbrauhaus, where the Nazi Party was launched, in a banquet room on the second floor, as well as the Sternekerbrau where Hitler, as an observer sent to spy on a DAP meeting, first uses his power of oratory and comes to the notice of Anton Drexler, head of the DAP ( German Workers' party ).
The Isar Tor
Drexler recognizes Hitler's talents and recruits him into the DAP with the membership number 555. It is but a short while before Hitler takes over the DAP and re-names it the NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers Party, or NAZI for short and launches the party in the Hofbrauhaus.
Entrance to the Sterneckerbrau
After a coffee we continue the route of the marchers through the old town and past the Town Hall. here they headed for the War Ministry and, led by Marshall Ludendorf, they take a wrong turn and head for the Feldherrnhalle. It is here they are confronted and stopped by units of the local police who have mobilised assistance from nearby areas.
Meanwhile, one of Hitler's closest confederates, Capt. Ernst Rohm, had taken a detachment of SA and seized the War Ministry. Unfortunately, Rohm had failed to seize the telephone exchange and soon re-inforcements were arriving in Munich to help put the Putsch down.
When Hitler confronts the police at the Feldherrenhalle shots ring out and Hitler is pushed to the ground by his personal bodyguard, dislocating his shoulder. 16 would-be putschists are killed, and 4 policemen. The group is broken up and Hitler flees, to be captured 4 days later and put on trial.
On release from Landsberg prison, where he has served nine months of a five-year sentence, Hitler resurrects the Nazi Party. Many of the buildings which have already featured crop up again as the party grows in strength. We will visit where Heydrich establishes the SD, Gestapo HQ in the former Wittlesbacher Palais and where the dissidents Peter & Sophie Scholl were taken for interrogation, the University where they were arrested distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, and eventually we arrive at the Fuhrerbau on Arciss Strasse, site of where the 1938 Munich agreement was signed.
In the town centre we will visit the Old Rathaus ( Town hall ) from where Goebbels planned and orchestrated the action known as "Kristallnacht", or night of broken glass. Moving on, we encounter the New Rathaus which became HQ of the US 7th Army when it captured Munich in 1945. General Eisenhower wrote on the day of the city's defeat:
" All of the Allied forces congratulate the 7th Army for the capture of Munich, the cradle of the Nazi beast "
The Old Town Hall
The New Town Hall
Walking on through the city we will stop to view the tomb of the sleeping soldier, Germany lying dormant, waiting for the time to rise, and spend some time in the englische garten or English Garden where the socialite Unity Mitford attempted to commit suicide. Mitford's sister, Diana, was married to the British facist Oswald Mosely, and Unity secretly harboured an ambition to marry Hitler. Where war broke out she was devastated and shot herself on a bench in the garden - she survived the attempt and was discreetly transferred back to London via Switzerland.
After some more substantial refreshment the afternoon is taken up with a visit to the former concentration camp, Dachau.
Dachau was the first of the model camps, built in 1934 to house, in the first instance, political prisoners. Slowly, other categories of prisoner were sent to Dachau, including Homosexuals, the feckless, Jehovah's Witnesses, the work-shy and anyone suspected of being a threat to the State.
We will spend some time exploring the site and discussing the issues it raises.
As the war got underway, the nature of the prisoners held at Dachau changed. Prisoners of War and Jews arrived in ever-increasing numbers and it was found necessary to construct purpose-built killing and disposal facilities. To that end a gas chamber with associated industrial crematorium ovens were built to serve their purpose.
Gas chambers and Crematorium ovens at Dachau
There are a number of sites of religious remembrance on the site, as one would expect, no more dramatic than the Jewish Memorial, a representation of a ramp to hell perhaps, contrasted with the beautiful Eastern orthodox chapel.
Jewish memorial in Dachau
After an evening meal and a good night's sleep we head off in the morning to Nuremberg.
Travel by bus or train to the beautiful town of Nuremberg. If Munich was the cradle of National Socialism, then Nuremberg could be said to be the crucible. Spiritual home of the Nazis, the place where rallies and Party meetings took place.
Nuremberg gave its name to a set of laws, introduced in 1935, codifying the persecution of the Jews and providing a legal framework to do so. It introduced subjective measurement of Jewishness ( the Germans regarded Judaism as a racial thing and not a religious thing ). It was also the place where buildings of enormous size were to be constructed, the epitome of the architecture of power at its most potent. These were to include the Congress Hall ( Kongresse Halle )This building was to seat 50,000+ and to be 80 metres high, faced with granite. Work was suspended in 1939 when
The Kongresse Halle today
it had reached 30 metres as energies and building supplies had to be diverted for war use.
The building houses today a marvellous visitor's centre where the story of National Socialism can be followed.
There is also a nice cafeteria where a snack and drinks can be had.
Much of what the Nazis planned for the rally grounds was never to be built, but what was is well worth the trip. We will visit the Zeppelin Field, one of only two of the vast structures which was actually completed, and we can stand on the Fuhrer rostrum and wonder at the events which took place here in the 1930s and 40s.
The other place of great interest is the Luitpold Hain where ceremonies took place every year to commemorate and honour the 16 Putsch martyrs. Built to accommodate 150,000 marchers many rallies were held here. Nowadays the grounds of the former arena are a popular park for the enjoyment of the local people.
After a good walk around the complex we move on to the site of the famous Nuremberg Trials held after the war to bring to book the perpetrators of evil. It may be possible to visit the actual courtroom, courtroom 130, which held the trials providing there are no court proceedings under way, as the court is still used to this day to serve justice.
As with the Berlin tours, it will be necessary for clients to purchase their own air tickets, and all transfers will be by public transport.
Accomodation will be in one of a number of 3* hotels in Munich.
Prices are per person and start from, assuming two persons sharing:
Two days £699
Three days £899
Four days £1,099
Single room supplements of £30 will apply. This is a charge made by the hotel and is beyond my control. Please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01842 862014, or write to me at: Past Endeavours, 18, Pashford Close, Lakenheath, Suffolk IP27 9ED