Saturday, June 19, 2010

I caught a cold on Lufthansa and I've been sick since I arrived - today no better. But I had to get out a bit or I'd go crazy, so I walked across the bridge from the Hyatt to the city. After 2 minutes I realized my camera battery died, weather turned cloudy and cold, so I left myself with doing museums and will do the sightseeing later - other than the obligatory photo and buying souvenirs for friends and family back home (yes, they DO have snowglobes and thimbles here...)
Then... off to the a museum I found about on-line and what a treat! I went to the NS-Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Koln, which is in the EL-DE Building and was the headquarters of the Gestapo (Nazi state police) from 1935-45. Not only were thousands of people detained and tortured here, but several hundred were executed in the inner courtyard during the last months of the war, particularly foreigners condemned to forced labor.
What I loved was that after the war, the building was turned into municipal use and the downstairs jail and dungeon untouched; when it was rediscovered in the 1970s and subsequently turned into a museum in 1981 they had a largely intact jail. Over 1,800 carvings and writings from prisoners still exist and detail their experiences - difficult. Upstairs is the Cologne Documentation Centre on National Socialism which talked about the rise of Naziism in Cologne and its effects on the population.
I've got some photos of this below; there were 13 cells, each about 4 ft wide by 14 ft long, and housed up to 30 people! The only toilets were a bucket in each cell; they had showers and flush toilets in a general area between two sets of cells.

Photos, Left to Right: Exterior of Gestapo Prison, Cells in the Prison, Preserved carvings in Russian