My father talked about Munchen frequently. His stories about Dachau were compelling. His unit was the 157th Inf. Regt., 45th Inf. Div. The 45th Inf. Div. was, before and after WW2, the Oklahoma Army National Guard division. The 157th Inf. insignia shows a lion-headed sea monster holding a sword, assaulting the walls of Manilla during the Spanish-American war, and assualting two Amerind tepees during the "Indian Wars." Originally, the Divisional insignia was a SWASTIKA or HAKENKREUZ! Unfortunately, the Nazis' adoption of the swastika necessitated a change! So,in keeping with the Amerind symbolism (Oklahoma was home to the FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES originally of the southeastern US who were forced to go west to Indian Territory so as to make room for the white settlers in the east), the insignia was changed to a THUNDERBIRD, also drawn in the Amerind style. Since the Civilized Tribes had to fight--under the auspices of the US govt. as shock troops of Manifest Destiny--the "wild" tribes of the west, such as the Osage (on whose hunting land they were settling), and since my father was a small part Amerind, was it wierd predestination that he served in such a unit sent to fight toe-to-toe, bayonet-to-bayonet, rifle butt- to-rifle butt the Deutschen Soldaten of the Germanic Tribes, who were fighting for Lebensraum und Schicksal, under the Wehrmact's Amerind symbol,the Hackenkreuz, for "der Chef" (the Chief)!!!! Is history interesting or what? As a PhD Social Scientist I can expertly say "Ja, richtig!" Moreover, as a former Cub Scout member of the Eisenhower Jugen I grew up playing with captured swords and bayonets. I frequently scotch-taped sharp pencils to the muzzle of my 1955 "old Betsy" in order to bayonet demonic Germans and Japanese cleverly disguised as trees! Anyway, in Munich one can visit the sites of the beer hall putsch of 1923 and see where Germany's future leader cheered the outbreak of WW1. Here I found the origins of my patriotic past.
I began my travelogue about Munchen with a personal philosophical statement because of the beerhalls. I miss the biergartens more than anything else in Europa. I LOVE beer and BMWs. This may be the reason I love Germany so much. Well there is also Wagner. So, If you want beer and BMWs go to Munich. My favorite is the Mathauser Beer Hall just down the street from the bahnhof, past the bums begging for coins so that they can go across the street to the market and buy a couple of bottles of hot beer. I too bought bottles of hot beer here and learned two important facts: (1) those thin plastic grocery bags American get by the thousands cost 2pfs each!-- as I discovered when I grabbed one to take out my bottles of beer in and got sternly yelled at by the clerk. You would have thought that I had tried to shoplift a 50lb box of Lindt chocolates! And, I had just congratulated myself on figuring out that in German markets it must be customary to bag one's own purchases! (2) take your church key with you to Germany; they don't have twist-off bottle caps! If not for my fingernail clippers, I guess I would have opened those bottles with my teeth, which I have frequently been proven intelligent enough to do. Had I had an ounce of sense I would have noticed the cold beer machines on every floor of our hotel! Let me just say here that both our hotels, the EUROPAISCHERHOF and the SENEFELDER were great, with great fruhstuck rooms! One amazing observation: the guy in the industrial white apron at the Senefelder who carries your bags to your room, and works behind the desk, and serves as the concierge may speak as many languages as did Arthur Schliemann at Troy!
Here are more of my arcane observations of Munchen: (1) there may be more good Italian restaurants and pizza parlors in Munich than there are in NYC; (2)Munich is a great city from which to day-visit other cities such as Salzburg, Innsbruck, Berchesgaden, Garmisch, and Dachau; (3)the 1972 Olympic park's 1968 radio-observation tower offers spectacular vistas of the old town, the Alps on a clear day (you can see forever--sorry, I just couldn't resist that) and the BMW factory. Beverly was there in 1972 just after the Olympic tradgedy and knows all the sites at which the drama unfolded; (4) Dachau Konzentrationslager "museum/memorial" is just a short bus or S-Bahn ride away. It seems strangely out of place in this jovial, international area (is it really true that the SS Konzentrationslagers were based on the concept of the American Indian Reservations?); (5) If you like to drink beer, this is the place to be! You can down a couple of those huge (half gal?) glasses of draft in the time it takes to pour one of those 10 oz. Berlin specials! There is also a great biergarten at the central market and it is common to see many guys having a beer at 8 am at the bahnhof biergarten (reminds me of Okinawa in 1967 on my way to Viet-Nam to uphold those noble traditions bequeathed from WW2!); (6) the unforgetable performance of the Glockenspiel at city hall in Marienplatz (my wife's hand-held 8 mm video of the entire 30-40 minutes could easily be sold to the North Koreans as a psychological weapon since it will drive you crazy if you try to watch it). I do have one question. Why do the Muncheners rub the nose of the statue so that it shines? Is it suppose to bring good luck? I must confess I did it too. A little good luck never hurt anyone. It must have paid off because we could see the Alps from our train window as we left for Paris!