A Nazi work camp contrasted with the castle at Neuschwanstein

Chris —  April 17, 2010

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?”

The rest here.

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4 responses to A Nazi work camp contrasted with the castle at Neuschwanstein

  1. Hi Pastor Chris,

    This morning I have gone over almost all the books yuou have recommended on your website. What a richness is there. I was so encouraged to notice that a couple of them ai have read and the one
    called “Sheparding the Heart of a Child” I gave to three of my children as they raise my four grandchildren for Thanksgiving this past year. I have 3 precious little boys and 1 little gal. Their ages are 6 1/2, 5 1/2, 5 1/2, and my little granddaughter is 2 1/2.
    I pray they will give their hearts to the Lord while they are still young.

    In earlier years I’ve read a lot of Watchman Nee. Are you acquainted with any of his writing? I’m now reading them for a second time and doing a lot of highlighting.

    E me.

  2. Gail,

    That is wonderful. It’s been a long time since I read about Watchman Nee, but I have in the past.

    How wonderful to hear about your grandchildren. It is a special blessing to me because I remember so well going to the hospital in John’s last days, and I remember being so concerned for you all. What a blessing to know that your family continues on.

    If you think of it, please hit your pastors in the arm on my behalf. They are such good men, but they need to be humbled once in awhile.

    Love in Him,


  3. Just happened on your site and saw the printed comments on Flossenburg. My husband and I just returned from a trip to visit family in Germany and saw both the castle and the camp. I understand what the quoted gentleman is saying, but disagree with his view that we don’t see ourselves in the place of trouble, but only privilege. We walked almost without comment throughout the camp of Flossenburg, and could only think of those poor people, and to wonder ‘what if it was us?’ To see such things and try to comprehend the sin nature we all share… horrible. Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift of salvation! I’m so glad I went, even though I almost didn’t. I said I’d seen the documentaries, believed it all, etc., but didn’t know if I wanted to experience it firsthand. Now I know everyone should. It too is my sharpest memory. That, and the graveyard we passed a number of times, so overgrown and disorderly, unkept and uncared for, totally unlike any others we saw. We were told by our family members that it was a WW2 German soldier’s cemetary, and that they mostly all looked like that. We found the Germans who would talk about it very honest, and the camp is preserved very honestly. Enjoy your trip.

  4. Those are helpful thoughts Fran. Thanks for stopping by.