Monday, August 28, 2006

When all that is left is history, how do you interpret it?

The first time I arrived in Munich, I was 19. It was early evening when I stepped onto the train platform with my best friend, Mark. Carrying heavy backpacks we set out to find a place to stay before the dark night desended onto us. Exiting the train station we were approached by a middle aged German man who asked us in German if we needed a place to stay. Cautiously, in broken German, I said yes. He became excited, speaking frantically in German, saying he had the perfect place and he could drive us there. He motioned to a late model BMW 3.0 CSI. I turned to my travel companion, telling him that the German had offered us a place and he wanted to drive us there.

Hearing my English, the German grew even more excited. He asked in German where we were from. In German, I told him we had come from America. In English, he said "Come with me to my place. I do not stay there, it'll be yours for a small fee for however long you need. First, let me take you out in Munich. Do you like beer?" "Beer? We love beer! Let's go!" We piled into the BMW and were wisked away to an enormous beer garten. Many, many beers were consumed. The German picked up the tab. My only payment to him was to speak only German to him and he would speak only English to us. Fair enough. Hours later he dropped us off at the place we were to stay in. It was dark. I had no idea where I was and I was stinkin' drunk.

The next morning, I awoke to the smell of coffee. At first, I was happy. Then I rolled over to see my best friend passed out on his bed with his clothes still on. There was no way he had made the coffee. I went down the stairs from the loft towards the kitchenette. "Hello?" I said, as I stared at the steaming Krups coffee pot. Next to it were 3 cups, one of them used and still warm. I found a note written in German that I roughly translated to: Hello young Miss and Sir. I came to have coffee with you, but you were still asleep. Drink the coffee, there is a bottle of fresh milk in the cooler. Have a good day. See you tonight. Heinrick. Creepy, double creepy! I ran to our bags that we had left near the kitchen. I was glad to see that they were still locked and seemed undisturbed. Thank God! I poured myself a cup of coffee (with milk) and stepped outside to figure out where I was. On the balcony I looked to see row after row of what looked like housing barracks. They were brightly painted in a neo- hippy style. When I turned towards my right, I saw a huge multi story building that looked oddly familiar.

In my hung over haze, I struggled to identify the building. By my second sip of coffee I instantly realized where I was.... Behind me, the door of the flat opened and my best friend walked out, cup of coffee in hand. "Thanks for making coffee" he said. "I didn't make it", I replied. "Who did?" he asked as he lit a cigarette. "Where the fuck are we? A commune?" "Funny", I said, "I thought the same thing. Does that building look familiar to you? Think back to 11th grade World History class". "No. Should it? Who made this coffee? It is great.", he said as he smoked his cigarette and looked at the high rise. "The German let himself in sometime this morning and made it. He said he wanted to have coffee with us, brought milk and everything. He left a note". My friend, looking alarmed, ran back into the flat. Moments later, he returned looking relieved. "Least our bags are still here", he said. "Where are we? I don't know that building". "We, my friend, are in the Olympic Village circa 1972. That is the dormitory that held the wrestling team from Isreal. They were taken hostage there. Two were killed in that building, the rest were murdered on the tarmac at a military air field. The Germans fucked it all up", I replied. "Okay! This is really disturbing when you are hungover. I don't like this guy letting himself in whenever he wants. I don't care how good this coffee is." he said to me. "Lets get our bags and get the hell out of here".

Our hangovers were still dragging us down. We decided it would be best if we looked for new accomadations first, then come back for our bags. We took the U3 subway line back toward the UBahn station we originally started from the night before. After we located a shoddy youth hostel near the station we went back to the Olympic Village to collect our bags. As I fumbled with the keys at the door, it magically opened with the help of the German who, once again, let himself into the flat. "Guten Tag!", he announced. "Eh, hi", I said in English. "We've come back for our bags". "Nein!" he yelled at me. "This is yours to stay in". "NO!", I said firmly in English. "I don't like the view" I said, pointing to the high rise, "and I don't like you letting yourself in whenever it suits you." Screaming at me in German, most of which was lost on me, he said "This is a nice place, we German's don't talk about old news! I made you coffee, I brought you milk!" We grabbed our belongings and headed for the door. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a Deutsch Mark and set it on the table. "For your fucking milk!", I said as I bolted out the door.

Back at the U3 subway, we began to relax as we took out seats into the subway car. 2 minutes into our ride to the UBahn station a commotion broke out 5 rows up from us. "Shit" I said to my friend as I watched a man punch a woman in the face. He didn't stop there. He began assaulting everyone around him, men, women, and even a small child. We held our backpacks in front of us, uncertain if we would be next. The train pulled into the next stop, everyone ran for the exits. 3 large men grabbed the unstable man and threw him onto the platform and began beating him up. Everyone was screaming and trying to run. Out of nowhere, 4 German police officers arrived, armed with Mac 10 Assault rifles. They broke up the fight by pointing their weapons into the crowd. Lucky for us we didn't make it to the exit of the train car. The doors closed with us still inside and zipped off to the UBahn station. By now, we had had enough of Germany and bought two tickets to France on the night train.

It's been years since I thought about this event. I reluctantly returned to Munich 10 years after this happened. Hubby wanted to go there to tour the BMW factory, which is near the Olympic Village. I took him there and told him this story. I was reminded of it again as we were watching the documentary "One Day In September". "Hey! We've been there!", hubby said. "Yes, I nodded, "Now you understand why I didn't want to return". He laughed at me as he said, "Oh. I thought you were just sick of crazy Germans".

I have since added the movie "Munich" to my Netflix queue. "Munich" is Spielberg's take on the events that followed that horrible day when those hostages were murdered. I can't say that I am looking forward to seeing this movie, nor do I think I will ever return to Munich.


Anonymous said...

I went to Munich as 17yr old kid, loved the place, was a bit disturbed by some of what I saw there, but I was nieve (how do you spell that word????).

Anyways, the film is wonderful. Very violent however and it is Very VERY PRO ISRAEL. So, the hezbollah fans out there wont like it. But its a fantastic film nonetheless.

German beer, suasage and cabbage mmmmm.

After coming back from Germany, friends asked if I had learned any of the language, I knew how to order big beers and swear.
They say travel broadens the mind tho.

Cynnie said...

Its spelled the opposite of what you'd think Dully, Naive
Aww..I've been wanting to go to Germany, my sis in law lives in Augsburg..
But I think my fighting days are over..much less my grabbing my stuff and running..christ..maybe I'll just visit miami with the other old farts

btw... have had a life and a half!!

tideliar said...

I was in Munchen in '92. I was 17. Man it was kind of depressing, i have to admit. But so much of Germany was back then...Tubingen was cool tho'. Think I got laid there...that always helps.

ldbug said...

Scary!! Do you think it's better now? I'd love to visit...well, the world:-)

Gives a great story, though, and at least you got a lot of beer!!

cappy said...

the fact that a german wanted to give you bed and breakfast, and you didn't question his motives? that worries me. he could have done anything to you guys! especially when he came in that morning. can't blame you for legging it!
good story, well worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the story, but I am also thankful that you were able to share it with us and no harm came to you. I always wanted to travel but being on my own I would be so scared.

Anonymous said...

my da was in germany both sides wen he was a spy

* (asterisk) said...

Camie, I watched Munich on Friday night and have just posted my brief thoughts on it. It's funny that RD says it's pro-Israel, because I also got that feeling, despite the fact that the Hollywood Jews weren't happy about Spielberg's take on events.

That said, it's all pretty accurate, at least based on the Mossad documentary I saw last year. And I think it straddles quite well the line between being pro-Israel and condemning Golda Meir and her decisions. Definitely worth watching, and probably worth more than one viewing.

Scary trip you had, though...!

Red said...

I have visited Munich several times (my Mum is German) and I think it's a charming place. The only bad thing about it is that the food stinks, all fatty meats and stuff.

Of course, bad shit happened there in 1972. But really bad shit happened in NY in 2001, London 2005, Mumbay this July, Turkey yesterday afternoon... If we were to avoid all the places that have witnessed death and terrorism from our list of potential holiday destinations, we'd probably just sit tight in our home towns. (And who's to say we are safe there?)

Regarding your adventure with the crazy German, I cannot help but feel that accepting free accommodation from a perfect stranger at a train station couldn't but lead to trouble, but maybe I'm too wary of people's motives (or maybe not, if your experience is anything to go by).

Munich is a good film, though. If you feel particularly strongly about 1972, be aware that there are some pretty gruesome scenes.


He bought you beer? Introduce me to him! All sounds a bit weird. You did the right thing to leave. Germans in the old east Germany are great. 'Specially Eisenberg.

the cappuccino kid. said...

"we don't talk about the past" love it! talk about blinkered. just cos we talk about it, doesn't mean we tar all germans with the same brush. surely it is healthier than keeping it bottled up. and do they think we don't realise that it was another generation? odd bunch of folk. you made the best decision in leaving.

Melanie said...

Creepy experience, thank goodness you aren't Jewish or that would have been over the top.

I saw Munich, it was a good film, and I'm not sure where the others are getting the idea that it is pro-Israel, because it is pretty damn accurate.

My husband still won't step foot in Germany, because of the Munich Olympics...that and the little Holocaust incident.

Anonymous said...

Why do I think its pro-israel?

Well, for a start only the Israeli characters in the film were shown as being remotely human.

It showed a nation totaly united in their aims in striving for justice.

All the arab people were complete maniacs who would kill you soon as look at ya!

Just a few thoughts really.

Lhonez said...

Munich is a very good film. It is pro Israel, but then it is hard to not be pro Israel when you tell the story.

My exwife and I were in Dublin in 1999. In a tavern, we met a young couple that took us to a wonderful Bed and Breakfast. Only they never let themselves in.

Life, or Something Like It said...

What a story! You seem to have led a very interesting life. Can't wait to hear more!

Ron said...

Like,OMG, Ms. Bog, you are like the seuper neeeto keeniest blog writer that Shall Thus Ever Be!!!

Mayor McFluffy

Melanie said...

Wow!!! What a story! That guy did sound overly friendly...glad you escaped unscathed.

* (asterisk) said...

I'm with Dullard here. Also, of the team of Mossad guys, only one (Eric Bana) ever seems to really doubt what he is doing. The others seem to think it is perfectly acceptable "for Israel", and they are virtually presented as heroes, albeit in a warped way.



lee said...

That was an absolutely riveting story! Can't help but wonder what his motives were. Uber-creepy.