Our family may be able to visit both the Neuschwanstein castle and Flossenburg this summer. So, I was interested in this post from that angle. But, more than that, because I have a great appreciation for Bonhoeffer.
Gene Fant writes:
A few years ago, on my 40th birthday, I spent the day walking silently with my family through the gates of the Nazi work camp at Flossenburg, Germany, wandering among the monuments to the dead.
The camp is almost empty of structures, though a few chapels dot the grounds; its gravel quarry has been transformed into a lush garden spiraling into the earth. The oven building, where corpses were reduced to ash, stands in the lowest level of the pit, with a wooden ramp slanting from the oven to the huge mound of human cinders.
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote “The Cost of Discipleship,” was the camp’s most famous casualty. I wondered if any of the molecules of his body still resided in the mound. Standing there, I swatted away large black flies that bit at my arms and legs.
As we walked past the oven, my wife Lisa whispered, “What a contrast from Neuschwanstein, eh?”
Two days previously, we had toured the fairy palace that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. It was packed with tourists who paid dearly for the price of admission. Words cannot convey the beauty of the structure, so packed with artwork, nor its setting, so high in the Alps on a ridge of rock overlooking a gorgeous lake.
Visitors from around the world gasped with every turn of a corner on our tour, each of us having the same thought in our native languages: “What if I ruled this castle?”
Flossenburg, by contrast, sits on a dead-end road. It has no gift shop. It was not crowded. There were no thoughts of, “What if I were a prisoner in this camp?”