On our Upper Austria trip, we were taken to the Mauthausen concentration camp
. Mauthausen itself is a beautiful town, now marred by what was once one of the largest labor camps in Europe.
The site is now a memorial, with countless sculptures and plaques dedicated to the victims of the camp.
Mauthausen was easily the most disturbing, depressing, and heartbreaking place I’ve ever been to. After we watched a sickening documentary about the camp, we were taken to key locations: the “Stairs of Death
,” the “Parachute Jump
,” the sleeping cabins, “Wailing Wall
,” and the execution center, where we stood in the gas chamber and crematorium.
It is an awful thing to learn about the horrors that people inflicted upon each other. It is an even more awful thing to stand in the very places where you know that these horrors transpired, and where you know for a fact that people died, in pain and panic.
The Saturday before last, all fifty-something of us in the study abroad program piled into a tour bus and off we went to Upper Austria. It was such a packed day that everyone was practically dead by the time we got back to Salzburg.
One of the first places we went was Lake Attersee in the Salzkammergut
. This particular lake is next to the Höllengebirge (Mountains of Hell) and Schafberg (Sheep Mountain).
All of the lakes I’ve seen in Austria so far are wonderfully beautiful. The Attersee was no exception. The water is also supposedly safe for drinking, provided you don’t dip from the same place the ducks are living.
Gustav Mahler loved the Attersee so much that he had a little cottage built on the shore so he could compose in peace. This cottage was literally a few seconds’ away from the water.
This was probably Mahler’s piano. I didn’t actually find out.
(That’s my Salzburg roommate standing in the shade of the cottage. She didn’t know I was taking a photo!)
Okay so now I’m getting out of order as this is NOT one of my backlogged posts…oh well. I was too excited to wait.
Today at the music store in Salzburg I found a little stack of Sudoku books. I’m a fan of Sudoku, so I picked it up…and was blown away.
Instead of numbers, it’s played with solfege.
What more, the gray boxes, after you’ve completed each puzzle, reveal the theme of a popular song…
…or famous classical composition.
And this is a book I picked up my last day in Vienna. Two friends and I found a bookstore and were drawn to the clearance bins outside. We proceeded to go through the bin of kinderbücher, or children’s books. One of my friends, who is taking German I with me, bought a counting book and two animal books. In the shop we talked to the shopkeeper, a really nice girl who let us practice our German on her, helped teach us our colors, and talked to us in English about languages, Skype, and life.
Anyway, I left with a Winnie-the-Pooh book. In German he’s known as “Winnie Puuh.”
Sadly my Winnie Puuh goodnight story is somewhat above my German reading comprehension. So far I’ve made it through three pages.