An Introduction to our 1994 EURAIL Travels!

Darkness had arrived on the landscape. We were riding the ICE from Berlin to Nurnberg. As we were pulled into the station at another small city, I watched the "Aschaffenburg" sign roll slowly by the window, and remembered my father's account of the horrendous battle that occurred here in 1945. The details occupied an entire chapter in his book on the hisory of the 157th Inf. Regt. in WW2. And here I was. I had the feeling my father was there with me. So, I went immediately to the lounge car and toasted the combatants with a beer! In Europe, one can truly commune with the ghosts! [IMAGE] Europe is a spiritual experience. My wife took time off from college in 1972-73 to spend a year working and traveling in Europe. For years she told me how wonderful it all was and how she longed to go back. She was right--standing on the sidewalk in London's Baker Street, walking through the guardhouse gate at Dachau, seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris and understanding the real meaning of "classical" while strolling through a Salzburg square," were transcendental experiences which enabled me to gain a new perspective on world culture and history. I'll never forget the German Army veteran, Herr Rosenthal and his wife. He lost a leg at the Battle of the Bulge in 12.44, but had managed to play soccer with his artificial leg! We met at the Zoo train station in Berlin. They got off somewhere north of Nurnberg and vanished into the shadows. I wish I had gotten his address for correspondence. I know I could learn a lot from listening to his account of survival in the Heeres Panzer Korps for eight years, comparing and contrasting with my father's account as an infantryman in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. Who knows, they might have faced off. And then, there is another my father might have known. Herr Zaidenstadt, a Dachau survivor, who likes to tell foreign visitors what it was REALLY like. My father participated in the camp's liberation and the subsequent care of the prisoners (including dusting them with DDT to kill lice!). Of this I am sure: Herr Zaidenstadt, Herr Rosenthal and my father had intimate association with events most know only through analytic discussions of non-participants, and represent a vanishing link through which we moderns can enter the affective domain of our own historic millieu which is especially present in Europe. Because of such experiences going to Europe was like crossing into another dimension of being. And, add to this the exhilarating experience of free-wheeling it with a backpack on the trains with no schedule to keep--well, one trip is worth a million words!



Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Eurailtravelers.