Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There's nothing left...

I'm still thinking through my recent holiday in Germany and Austria. We visited some lovely places and some very thought-provoking ones, and there are images and memories that keep coming back to me. I know I have blogged about my new "happy place" and I am so grateful for that picture of God's peace and love in my mind.

But there were others places during our tour that affected me as well.

One of the most memorable moments was when we visited the Bunkeranlagen that was built by Hitler under the mountains near the lovely city of Berchtesgaden, in Bavaria. It's not talked about much and you don't find it advertised in the tourist information centers. This I understand. Who wants to invite foreign tourists to America to see places of slavery and prejudice in our history? Or visit the places were crosses were burned during the civil rights era?

This bunker was built under the commandeered hotel Zum TΓΌrken, on the mountains between Salzberg and Berchtesgaden. The original owners were able to buy back their property after the war had ended (in ruins) and after extensive repairs and renovations, reopened their hotel and have allowed tours of the site. Tour buses don't stop there because of the narrow corridors, so if you ever go visit, you can count on it not being filled with tourists.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the bunker. (You can see pictures of it here.) The bunker was a steep, narrow, musty set of halls and steps. We descended to 50 feet below the surface. Even though it was 90 degrees up top, it was a chilly and damp 50 degrees below. There were several tunnels to homes and chateaus of the Nazi leadership. The places were the plaster had been vandalized and opened up, you could see the amazing set of reinforced steel bars inside the walls. All of it built by forced labor.

I can't explain my reaction to it exactly, but there was a truly "evil" presence echoing in that place. I'm not a "woo-woo" person and I don't go looking for auras or spirits. But the spirit of oppression still was present in that place. It took several minutes in the hot sunshine afterwards to erase the chill.

Our guide showed us a little-known spot near the bunker where Hitler's house once stood, (which was not marked for obvious reasons.) All that is left is grass, trees and birdsong. This picture shows the beauty of the spot. The local government has taken away all debris and evidence of the house's footprint. It seemed to me most appropriate that a place where evil was conceived and planned could be so removed and destroyed from existence.

My reading in Isaiah 40 later that day was a reminder of the supremacy of... GOD. And God alone...

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
Who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when He blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of His might,
and because He is strong in power
not one is missing.

[Isaiah 40:21-26]

It could not have been clearer to me. Those who think they are invincible will surely find out they are not. Those who are convinced their war is "right" will find themselves humbled and erased from the face of the earth.

He who has ears, let him hear..." Jesus [Matthew 13:43]

I have been pondering this ever since...

Deb


2 comments:

Rev Scott said...

Yes, so powerful. I wish I had thought to add Berchtesgaden to our itinerary when we went through Germany on our honeymoon a few years ago. I have been to Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps, though, and that feeling of evil is there, too.

Powerful words about Isaiah 40, which most of us stop reading after "Comfort, comfort now my people..." Thanks for this!

Sally said...

Thank you for these powerful reflections Deb.

May Gods peace remain with you.