Survey Response by Levon of Daytona Beach, FL
|What is your city, state and country of residence?||Daytona Beach, FL|
|How old were you during the intercultural travel experience you are sharing? How old are you now?||I am 72 years old now, this was back when I was 47.|
|Where was this intercultural/travel experience (geographically)?||Outside of Salzburg, Austria|
|Was this your first time in this country &/or with individuals from this cultural background?||Yes, this was my first time in Europe|
|Describe the intercultural experience you wish to recall in detail:||I had wanted to see Eagle’s Nest, a home which belonged to Adolf Hitler. It was where he held several meetings during WWII. I did not idolize him by any means, I simply wanted to learn more about WWII and see the house since I had seen it in photos and in film footage in WWII documentaries.
The Kehlsteinhaus (known as the Eagle’s Nest in English-speaking countries) is a Third Reich-era building erected atop the summit of the Kehlstein, a rocky outcrop that rises above the Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings. It was presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday, but he only visited the building a total of 14 times.
Today it is open seasonally but we were there in May so the roads were closed.
|How did you arrive in the location?||Not knowing the roads were closed, we hired a guide out of Salzburg. Once we arrived in Berchtesgaden and learned of our dilemma we decided to hike to the mountaintop. Once we arrived, of course the house was closed and had only workers there. Our guide talked with the construction crew preparing the house for its re-opening and all of a sudden, they let us in. Our guide whispered to us that he had told them I was a US Ambassador.|
|Had long were you there and had you been there before?||Although we were only there for an afternoon, I will never forget it! I remember recounting in my mind each scene from WWII that had been memorialized there. The photo of Hitler and Eva Braun by the fireplace and the many photos of Hitler outside on the deck with the panoramic view of Austria.|
|How did you feel different than those you were encountering? Describe in detail.||I was intrigued as we walked through the house. And I wondered what the construction crew thought of the house. Our guide was Austrian and clearly conveyed that this was a teaching moment. “Forgive but Never Forget,” the phrase mounted at the entrance of Dachau is what, he too, solemnly repeated.|
|What was the biggest surprise, difference or shock between your pre-travel perceptions to your actual experiences?||I understood after we were there why Eagles Nest was never bombed despite it being such a primary target of the US and our allies. It was such a tiny target, just a small home atop a mountain. One other really fascinating thing was that when we arrived at the home, we were actually a few stories below it. They actually dug a tunnel to the center of the mountain and installed a copper elevator which takes you up and directly into the home.|
|What was the best (most memorable) and the worst part(s) of this experience?||The best, most memorable part of this trip was being able to physically see this place where history took place. The worst part was remembering the horrific, horrible acts Hitler mandated.|
|What was the most beneficial part of this experience for you (what did you learn)?||I think it’s important to learn from history. We cannot ever let these types of horrific, cruel, despicable atrocities happen in our world again!|
|What are the most important insights of your experience you feel are most critical to share and/or emphasize?||I believe what I shared above is the most important insight. Forgive, but never forget, and never allow it to happen ever again.|