Transformation Through Travel

Month: May, 2014

The site of the gas chambers at Birkenau II in Poland

The site of the gas chambers at Birkenau II in Poland are an example of landscape and memory. There are five crematoriams and two bunkers where Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.The first crematorium was built in 1940 and lasted until 1943. The others were built in the times between then. There were also gas chambers that were built inside of these buildings where the Nazis took the lives of millions of people. The landscape is to help preserve the memory of what had happen. The fact that they have done very little to rebuild these places because they are still standing serves as the memory of the landscape. Today, there are signs up that preserve the memory of the events that took place there along with the actual buildings in which these horrific events took place. These are to be reminders and represent memories of everyone who lost their life in these places. I chose to write about this topic because I had never really researched this in depth before. It is one of the most heartbreaking topics that I have ever researched before. The picture along with this post shows an example of the layout of the landscape of the gas chambers at Birkenau.





Auschwitz-Birkenau II

Birkenau was one of the largest concentration camps that was apart of Auschwitz. Over 1 million people died in Birkenau. In March 1942, Birkenau oped as apart of Auschwitz. A quote taken off of the foundations’ web site states:

“If one Place could address the conscience of humanity in the 21st century, this Place is Auschwitz-Birkenau. The last of the enormous extermination centers which is tangibly preserved. The largest of all the Nazi German concentration camps.

If the world we would like to build is to be safer, peaceful and more welcoming, it is imperative that we keep the authenticity of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial viable and palpable.

No one can change the past; however the future is in our hands. Help us to preserve the authenticity of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Help us to warn humanity against itself. Do not allow history to become a deafening silence. Save the memory.”

Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński

President of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation

This statements speaks to the importance of keeping this place as a reminder to never let an event like the Holocaust happen again. This concentration camp is located in Krakow, Poland. Even before I got accepted into this program, I saw that one of the places that were to be visited would be Auschwitz. I knew that if I went on the trip that this would be one of the most powerful places that we would have visited. Its memory and power still resonate till this very day.



Istvan Szechenyi was born into a very wealthy and aristocratic family. His family gained many merits from the “Hungarian National Museum.”He participated in the uprising against Napoleon in early 1800, along with is two brothers. This sparked his further participation in the Military, not only as a duty but a career. He received many badges […]

The Wachau Valley vineyards & Gasometer City


The Wachau Valley vineyards are worldly renowned for their wines. The vineyard is located in Austria among the lush greenery and breathtaking mountain views. It is along the Danube river. The valley is a World Heritage Site due to its beauty and the need to preserve its grounds. The types of grapes that are grown in the Wachau Valley vineyards are Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grapes. The vineyard was created in the mid-1980s where the production of white wines grew immensely. I am very excited to witness the beauty that this valley holds and bike along the Danube river. The beauty is endless in an area like this.

Gasometer City is the site in which industrial buildings that housed pants for gas and other materials during the 1900s populated a part of Vienna. Now, these buildings are now eco friendly apartments, malls, studios, and many other occupations. They are labeled A, B, C, and D for various purposes that were used back in the day. Cafe’s reside in some of them as well as local entertainment venues and  restaurants. This is a perfect example of modern architecture within renovations of old buildings in Europe. Their ability to create new designs and eco friendly space in older buildings continue to astound me! I am very excited to visit this new concept of an old space.


Museum of Romani Culture in Brno

The Museum of Romani Culture is located in Brno, Czech Republic. It holds many exhibitions on Romani culture form the past and into the present. According to their website: “We are a space where different cultures meet. We preserve examples of Romani cultural history as part of Europe´s heritage. We educate the younger generation to […]

The Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge in Prague is the oldest bridge in the city. The bridge connects the Old Town to Mala Strana. Outlining the bridge are 30 statues of saints and other important people in which they have contributed to the history of Prague in a positive way. The bridge was previously named the stone bridge. Then it was named the Charles Bridge after King Charles IV had claimed it. Its architecture is known to be one of the best examples of Gothic design. With its Gothic design, it is one of the most beautiful sights in Prague, let alone in Central Europe. The towers that are present at the ends of the two sides of the bridges, also represent Gothic architecture. On more modern days, the bridge holds a warm welcome to many tourists, visitors, musicians, and artists. A lot of musicians bring their bands on the bridge to preform for the people who pass by. There are also a lot of painters along the bridge offering to paint picture of tourists or are painting for their own pleasure and for their own work. I am very excited to visit such a beautiful scenic place. It is home to the most beautiful art and has countless historical influences and memories.


The Bach Museum


The Bach museum is located in Leipzig, Germany. The museum is located in the Bose House, where Bach visited. He was good friends with the Bose family, and lived right across the street with his family. Unfortunately, his original house was destroyed in the early 1900s. The architecture is very much in the style of 16th century architecture. At first, the museum was located in a palace in Leipzig, but due to renovations, it was moved to the Bose Family house. The museum holds some of Bach’s original music as well as some original art and sculptures dating back to the time where Bach lived. There are also places in which the original wallpaper of the hose is still displayed. In the museum, there is also a reconstructed version of Bach’s signature instrument, which is the organ. The museum also has a listening library, where visitors can listen to Bach’s most loved pieces and follow along with the score in hand. Being a music major, I am very excited to visit where Bach spent his time and visited. He is one of the composers that I am more unfamiliar with; so being able to visit this museum will be a real treat and a wonderful educational experience.


The Jewish Museum


The Jewish Museum of Berlin opened in the year 2001. The museum dedicates its knowledge and its focus to the Jewish people during the Holocaust and to their culture today. It is an independent federal institution. The building was constructed and designed by Daniel Libeskind. The structure of this museum ties in modern architecture with classical elements that is developed in to the modern design. This museum is respected greatly within Central Europe. The museum holds many memorabilia, paintings, and other forms of art to represent the Jewish Culture. Its unique exterior is made to catch the eyes of people who come across it. I am very excited to visit such a respected museum and learn more about the Jewish Culture within Germany during World War II and in the present. In America, rarely do you find this type of architecture; so just being able to see this modern design will be interesting to experience. I am most interested in seeing the old photographs and art that document the lives of those before, during, and after the Holocaust. Photographs became apart of the museum’s display in 2006. They show the social lives of Jewish culture in the times around 1945 and older.,_Berlin


The Berlin Wall


The Berlin Wall divided Germany into two different sections. The sections were known as Eastern Germany and Western Germany. The wall was built to control immigration policies and issues that were being had in Germany. Many people form Eastern Germany were fleeing to Western Germany. Therefore, the wall was built “over night” in order to keep those fleeing from the east side of Germany from doing so. After the wall was built, the living conditions on both sides seemed to contrast each other. It was like living in two different countries. Western Germany set a capitalized system that led to economic and communal growth. Eastern Germany was much different. It had developed under a communist system that was brought upon the Soviet Union. For the East, their personal, political, and economic freedoms were severely restricted. The Berlin Wall symbolized not only the physical component that divided Germany, but a personal and cultural divided between Eastern and Western Germany. I am very excited to be visiting the Berlin Wall on my travels to Germany during the travel seminar. I find that by witnessing such an important part in history, I will be able to really understand and grasp onto what life was like during the times when the Berlin was still in use.