A broken tooth (not my first) set us off on a search for an English speaking hopefully, dentist. First searches were two to three days away in Munich and no answer by email. Claire found two within walking distance.
The first receptionist rather rudely turned us down without consulting the dentist. We were discouraged but tried the second, and the experience couldn’t have been better! Well, maybe a tooth extraction requiring six stitches isn’t all fun. But she was a very competent dentist, and strong, as my teeth never let go easily. We were fortunate to have chosen the town of Simbach, Germany for a day off.
Taking another day off for my tooth seemed a good idea and we began it by walking across the Inn River into the Austrian town of Braunau, through which we had arrived on the trail.
A day or so before we arrived here, Claire noticed on Google maps that Hitler’s birthplace was in Braunau on the Austrian side of the river.
I found that an amazing coincidence. On our Silk Road crossing, we bicycled, completely by accident, onto the Republic of Georgia town of Gori, where Stalin was born.
The two men epitomized evil in the twentieth century, murdering millions. The Georgians have a huge statue of Stalin as you enter the town on the Silk Road from the east. I wonder if they keep it out of fear of their greedy neighbor to the north, Russia?
The Germans do not hide their rejection of the man and the period of their history that he represents. An inscription on a stone from one of the concentration camps is all that marks his birth home. There is continuing controversy over tearing down the nondescript building.
I was drawn to the place where evil took his first breath because I am trying to understand what historians make of the connection of populism to fascism; how the German and Russian peoples could be complicit in such evil.
After a good walkabout and lite cafe lunch, returned to Simbac to an astounding discovery: (Claire here) One of the things I enjoy about extended touring is slowly picking up on the language. While browsing in a bike shop, a photo/poster of a flood caught my eye.
I made out the words for ”1000 year flood” and I had to know more. A questioning look to the manager gave me the sad story that I might have left behind one day earlier. It was only two years ago, ripping down this very street, boiling over from an unassuming creek. It caught everyone by surprise and killed seven people. Now, it all made sense: the uncharacteristically run-down buildings and overgrown lots.
They were still rebuilding. Farther up the street, uphill, I found a building with two high water markers from 1899 and 1991. That didn’t make sense, where was 2016? Then I craned my neck and looked up to the second story. There it was.
It made me realize how often we come into a place not understanding the scars the people bear.