The word “distance” seems, in many ways, to be a fitting description of our experience today. For starters, our destination, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, was a great distance away from Berlin, and the camp itself was a good 45 minute walk from the closest train station. Furthermore, there was a dramatic lack of distance between the horrors experienced in the camp and the nearby city of Fürstenberg which sits nestled comfortably on the opposite shoreline of swelling in the Havel River. Conversely, the residents of this beautiful little German town have worked hard to create a great distance between themselves and what happened behind the walls of this hard labor camp for women. The Soviets took full advantage of this awkward situation in 1959 by placing a memorial (the Tragende or “Woman with Burden”) of one famished woman holding another and looking squarely at the church spire across the waterway as if to say, “what did you do?” Indeed, distance, the presence of it, lack of it, and desire for it seemed to serve as a marker for us on this difficult day.
Afterward, a few of us made our way to the top of the Reichstag, the historic government building of Germany that once again serves a central role in their current democracy.
Tomorrow we leave Berlin and head to Kraków. We hope to arrive early enough to get through a brief walking tour of this beautiful medieval city before the day is done.
See previous day reviews for the ’23 tour here: