Day 4 had us leaving the beautiful area of Erfurt and heading on down the road to Berlin. Our stops on this day took us to Weimar which was the city of the first constitutional republic of Germany after World War 1, but it also famous for the famous writers Goethe and Schiller.
Given that our trip was sponsored by the Goethe-Institut we discussed Goethe extensively.
In Weimar we took a tour of the downtown and then visited the Bauhaus Museum which pays homage to the architectural design style and school that was created and operated between 1919-1933.
After Weimar we headed to Buchenwald Concentration camp which is only 8 miles away. Today the weather was absolutely gorgeous blue skies and lots of sun and it seemed incongruous with the subject matter. The holocaust is not a bright sunny topic and I would have preferred overcast skies to match.
I was surprised by how few buildings are standing. The only original buildings are two guard towers, the front gate of the prison section, the hospital block and the crematorium. Buchenwald was mostly used as a work camp during World War 2 and the Soviets used it from 1945-1950 as an internment camp as well. Of the over 250,000 prisoners that were held there they estimate a death toll at just over 50,000 prisoners.
It was the first camp liberated by U.S. soldiers under the occupation of Germany. We spent about 3 1/2 hours visiting the site and it was a very sombering experience. The two German guides that were with us the first week on the trip visited this site with us and it was their first experience ever visiting a concentration camp for them as well.