Students remember victims at Dachau

Jewish Memorial at Dachau Concentration Camp

The Jewish Memorial at Dachau casts a light of hope on its visitors.
(photo by Marina Weis)

by Marina Weis

The deceptive words, arbeit macht frei, or, labor makes you free, welcomed thousands of prisoners as they made their way through the entryway into the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

Now weeds grow over the rusted barbed wire that surrounds a large courtyard plagued with an eerie emptiness. Songbirds pierce the silence as small groups of visitors pause to read at information stands about the atrocities that happened here years ago when thousands of people were tortured and killed for the Nazi regime.

“We are walking on the ashes of the people who died here,” said Arnoud Beck, a tour guide for Explorica who was leading the Point Park group of visitors through the camp as part of the International Media class.

“Can we take photos?” asked a student visitor.

“No,” Beck answered. The tourists frowned. “You have to take pictures to show the world so it never happens again.”

Out of many concentration camps in Germany, this was the first set up by the Nazi regime and acted as an example to the rest that followed. It opened in 1933 as a camp for political prisoners – all those who opposed Hitler, such as communists, social democrats and especially the Jews. But in 1938 it became a concentration camp. Originally designed to hold 6,000 prisoners, the Americans who liberated the camp found it overfilled with 32,000.

Although the Americans liberated the camp in 1945, it was still used as a place for immigrants and homeless people. It was only after riots that the camp was closed around 1965. Soon after, the Bavarian government decided to make it an open-air memorial, and it includes three religious installments – Catholic, Jewish and Protestant. Some of the outdoor sculpture depicts those prisoners who ended their lives by running into the electrified barbed wire to end their suffering or attempting to escape by whatever possible means only to be shot by guards atop one of the towers surrounding the perimeter of the concentration camp. The camp now receives more than 1 million annual visitors.

Munich tour guide Arnoud Beck explains how the Dachau prisoners were crammed into the barrack's sleeping quarters.

Munich tour guide Arnoud Beck explains how the Dachau prisoners were crammed into the barrack’s sleeping quarters.
(photo by Helen Fallon)

All 30 of the original barracks, which each housed more than 2,000 prisoners, were destroyed, but two exact copies were re-created for the memorial. But the gas chamber and crematorium are more or less original, according to Beck.

A native of Holland, Beck said he know many families who lost their relatives in the Holocaust. The first time he visited the camp was 20 years ago, but even after so many years, the terror still resonates with him.

“I’ve been here 100 times, and I’m still getting emotional,” Beck said. “If I go 100 times into wherever – who cares? But if I go into a camp, I still get emotional. It’s unbelievable.”

For Beck, one of the most depressing aspects about the camp is looking at the photos of prisoners who suffered from the medical experiments they were forced to participate in by the Nazis.

One photo array in the visitor center shows a man used as a subject for an aeronautic experiment for research into the possibility of survival at great altitudes. Three photos show him in a high-pressure room, and his facial expressions become progressively pained. Eventually, his brain could not take the pressure, and he died.

Others were subject to being injected with malaria and put in ice-cold water to test equipment, among other tests.

The prisoners who were traveling on a train for a week or two had hardly any food or water, so the Nazis felt they needed to be disinfected. Visitors can walk through the disinfection room that connects to the gas chamber and then eventually the crematorium. The heavy chemicals emitted from the pipes in the narrow, dark disinfection room sometimes killed the prisoners as well.

Dim light cast long, eerie shadows of visitors in the low ceiling room with small, barred windows near the floor of the gas chamber.

“This was the center for potential mass murder,” Beck said. “The room was disguised as showers and equipped with fake shower spouts to mislead the victims and prevent them from refusing to enter the room.”

An art memorial depicting intertwined bones and bodies adorns the exterior of the Dachau Concentration Camp museum.  (photo by Sara Tallerico)

An artistic memorial depicting intertwined bones and bodies adorns the exterior of the Dachau Concentration Camp museum.
(photo by Sara Tallerico)

The prisoners who were not deemed fit were transported to Auschwitz’s gas chambers in many cases instead of this gas chamber here at Dachau because the camp did not have enough fuel to burn the bodies, according to Beck. They had to get rid of the evidence. But some prisoners were forced to strip naked and enter the gas chamber. Death by poison gas could take up to 20 minutes.

The crematorium was erected to serve as both a killing facility and to remove the dead. Following the crematorium is a room with stained walls used to store corpses brought from the camp to be cremated.

Prisoners at the camp faced at 13-hour workday, seven days a week. The barracks had to be kept in pristine condition. If coffee were spilled on the floor, the entire barrack would be punished, Beck said.

Originally, each barrack was meant to 200 prisoners, but as the war waged on, they housed more than 2,000 with no insulation and no heater. Privacy did not exist, as there was one big toilet area and one washing room with two basins for the entire barrack.

Some of the beds, made up of wooden planks, have separators for privacy, but in other rooms, there are no separators. But this was an advantage in the winter as body heat helped to warm the prisoners.

But most people died because of sickness above anything else, according to Beck and the center’s website. At the end of 1944, the number of prisoners staggered over 60,000 and the living conditions were catastrophic due to poor hygiene and food supplies. An epidemic of typhus claimed over 15,000 lives. A serious case of tuberculosis was also discovered in block no. 29, and people were murdered in groups of 20 by injection.

A grave marker pays tribute to the unknown victims. (photo by Michelle Graessle)

A grave marker pays tribute to the unknown victims.
(photo by Michelle Graessle)

Finally the camp was liberated in April of 1945. But the Americans could not believe what they found. A few trucks containing prisoners were never opened because they soldiers forgot, and more than 200 prisoners died.

Many prisoners, who ate the chocolate the soldiers brought, died as they did not have any solid food for a long time. Some others, desperate for new clothing, went to the now-abandoned SS barracks. They donned some of the guards’ clothing, and the Americans, suspicious of them, kept them imprisoned. Some, according to a memoir published by a South Tyrol conscientious objector, were sent to a French prisoner of war camp for months after the camp’s liberation.

Others could not leave the camp immediately because they had to go through decontamination due to illness. It took some nine to 10 months before they could leave, as many were also too weak to enter society.

At the end of the visitor center, there is a display explaining what happened to the war criminals involved in national socialist crimes at Dachau. The trials by the Allies were the first of their kind and became models for following trials, but with the beginning of the Cold War, interest in prosecution began to recede. The West German justice system took over, and despite preliminary trials, there were an overwhelming number to deal with and then only a few prosecutions. Most offenses were placed under amnesty and therefore many of the crimes committed remained unpunished.

“You have people that don’t know about the massive executions. You have to think about 26 million people were killed in five years,” Beck said to his group of visitors, cameras peppered among them as he ended the tour. “I hope when you show those pictures to other people, I hope that they got that same effect and start thinking about what they are doing.”

The Axel Springer empire

Axel Springer exterior

Axel Springer took a chance by building the headquarters in Berlin.
(photo by Marina Weis)

by Marina Weis

Everyone thought journalist Axel Springer was crazy when he built his publishing house on the west side of Berlin during World War II.

A few days later, the Berlin wall was built right beside it.

But Springer had faith that Germany would be reunited and his headquarters would be in the center of a unified Germany. He believed his company had to pursue something called corporate social responsibility, with his fellow journalists fighting for a free social market. He called the headquarters that towered over the wall the lighthouse of freedom.

Although the Berlin Wall no longer stands near the headquarters today, the company still towers as the leading publishing house in the country, owning more than 230 newspapers and magazines with more than 80 online offerings, as well as involvement in television and radio stations and activity in 44 countries, according to its website. Its tabloid, Bild, has the highest circulation among Europe’s newspapers with more than 12 million people reading it daily.

Axel Springer, the journalist, may be gone, but current leaders of the company say his entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and integrity are carried through in every aspect of the company, even in the contracts of each journalist.

“Everything that he said came true and is still valuable today,” said Leeor Englander, assistant to the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, a large national newspaper owned by Axel Springer. “They were fighting against communism before and now it is terror today.”

Because Springer focused not only on content, but also on distribution and production, stemming from his family’s background in the newspaper business, he built the first print houses in Germany, and Axel Springer AG therefore began to print other newspapers, creating joint ventures, which began the expansion.

Leeor Englander greets the Point Park students and faculty.  (photo by Johnie Freiwald)

Leeor Englander greets the Point Park students and faculty.
(photo by Johnie Freiwald)

“At the time when Axel Springer invented Bild Zeitung, it was comparable with Facebook,” Englander said. “He did something nobody ever did before … The way he invented new magazines was the same way people today invent new apps and websites.”

In the same way that Springer fostered technological innovations, the company now strives to be the leading digital media company in Germany. Axel Springer AG currently generates more than a third of its revenue from its international business and with digital media.

Englander boasts of Die Welt as the first newspaper to have color, pictures, a compact version, a mobile application and to be the first real German national newspaper to go online.

“Journalism has nothing to do with paper,” Englander said. “It’s how do we reach our readers. We are not trying to keep print alive – We are trying to keep it as long as we can.”

Subscription only covers half the production cost of Die Welt. Advertising and classifieds cover the rest. Years ago, the reader paid almost all of it.

Despite ranking third among other leading print publications in Germany, Die Welt has taken leaps to further its digital presence, adopting a philosophy of mass-market journalism, which focuses on reaching all target groups with new products. It now sells more digital subscriptions per month than print.

“We knew that people were willing to pay for digital content,” Englander said. “Online is the most important distribution channel for the future.”

The focus was so much so online that Die Welt just last year decided to produce its content for online first, and then, at the end of the day, take the best content that was already online and publish it in print.

For comparison, Englander said Volkswagen builds the same car for both Germany and United States, but it looks only a little bit different because marketing is different in the United States. He said in the same breath, Die Welt produces the same content for its compact version, but it’s just less and shorter.

This repurposing of content in order to reach different readers can be seen Axel Springer’s publications. For example, the science section in the compact version of Die Welt was recently renamed Internet news to attract younger readers.

Axel Springer Academy students explain what they're learning to the Point Park students and faculty.  (photo by Helen Fallon)

Axel Springer Academy students explain what they’re learning to the Point Park students and faculty.
(photo by Helen Fallon)

In order to ease into the switch from old economy print style to a multimedia company, Axel Springer AG created a journalism academy to act as a change agent or think tank, bringing “fresh blood” and a “new mindset” to the company, according to Rudolf Porsche, director  of Axel Springer’s Akademie.

The Akademie started in 2007 and is the most progressive journalism school in Germany, according to Porsche. About 1,000 students apply to the fast and aggressive two-year vocational training at Axel Springer, but only about 40 of them are accepted. The job offers come after completion and some can be rejected. Most have completed an academic degree and prior journalism experience. They are also given a monthly salary of about 1,200 euros. These students are then contracted to work for three years at Die Welt or any other Axel Springer AG affiliates after the Akademie.

Porsche, also a journalist, said Akademie students are given “all they need,” such as Mac books, smart phones and cameras, as well as teachers to tell them how to use the equipment. The last thing they are given is the “freedom to act.”

“We give you the equipment, we teach you the techniques, and you teach us what to do with this,” Porsche said. “That is why we are awarded with prizes because it is not my work. It is the creativity of our students.”

In the past, the Akademie was awarded the Grimme Online Award, the CeBIT AppStar and the European Newspaper Award for projects when it competed with other news organizations in Germany.

“We do not compete with other schools. That’s boring. We competed with other brands,” Porsche said.

The students – this year ranging in age from 18 (which is unusual, Porsche said) to early 30s – are currently working on a relatively secret masterpiece project for the next few weeks that will eventually be published in the Welt Kompact and Welt Online.

“We started with simple things – with news, the basics, but now we are doing TV journalism and multimedia journalism,” said an Akademie student about her experiences at Axel Springer. “I think that’s really important. That will be the future. I think it’s great we learn it here even though it is hard work all the time, and you have to get yourself into all this technical stuff.”

DAY 11 – Ketchum and Suddeutsche


Süddeutsche Zeitung’s huge printing presses

DAY 11 – Ketchum Pleon and Süddeutsche Zeitung

It has been very impressive this trip that all of our hosts have been of high rank in their companies and are very knowledgeable in every aspect. We have been very lucky to hear these people talk, and I’m sure many other students would love to have such an honor. That’s why I want to thank Helen and Jan and everyone who put this all together!

As I mentioned before, BMW was a great segway into the next marketing visit. I thought the Ketchum environment was especially inviting. It kind of reminded me of the Smith Brothers in Pittsburgh. The offices were modern and colorful. It would be great to work in such a positive, creative environment.

I thought the highlight of this visit was the case study they showed us for a drug that helped with gas. It put everything that they were explaining about their company and strategies into action. I thought it was genius to work with the stigma that gas has but then relate it to the fact that everyone gets it, even celebrities. The video was also attractive and cute! I could see myself possibly going to grad school for advertising if journalism doesn’t work out for me.

Later in the day we visited Süddeutsche Zeitung was not expecting it to be the leading newspaper in Germany after we received such a confident presentation from Die Welt. The presenters seemed much more humble although not as relaxed. I took a few pictures of the slides they showed that featured charts of the few leading newspapers in the country and their circulation throughout the years. I remember researching the FAZ and its history and these charts not only matched my research, but also tied everything together. I thought it was also very interesting to hear their perspective on the FAZ, which is the most personal and accurate kind of information about a company one can get.

I also took a photo of the slides showing how people get their news, such as people get the Süddeutsche Zeitung mostly through subscription, but Die Welt readers focus a lot more on the internet. They also had a slide that basically painted a picture of the audience of the newspaper. It seemed to be that elite, educated people between the ages of 20-49, who already have an understanding and awareness of issues in the world, are the ones that pick up the paper.

Learning about the online version was also a treat, but I also felt like in the future it might benefit them to focus more on breaking the news online and then publishing it in the paper more often. I know the editor said there is some communication between online and print, but in my mind, they both need to be one in order to survive.

The communications director told us that the paper survives because it provides quality content. It is a family paper, not a full business paper like the FAZ. People pick it up for its credibility and variety. And maybe too for its innovative advertising! I thought it was great that the paper took risks with advertising, especially with BMW. I personally think risk takers set standards.

Seeing its huge presses running was also a great experience. I really enjoyed learning about the long process that happens in order to get the papers out. I thought it was interesting to know that Die Welt is also printed there. The highlight of the tour was hearing about how 9/11 affecting the presses all the way over in Germany as well as the advertising.

Overall, this was a great, informative day. I think it is so great that all of these people take the time to speak with us. I could never imagine an editor from the New York Times speaking to us. I think because we are foreign, it is like an honor to them to speak to us. Whatever the case, I am forever grateful for the experiences!

DAY 10 – BMW

A tiny car in the BMW museum

A tiny car in the BMW museum

DAY 11 – BMW

The BMW excursion was a nice introduction into the marketing and advertising part of our trip. Even though I don’t know much about cars, let alone marketing, I was able to understand the overview of the company, strategies and new products because of how simply and concisely they were presented.

One of the first things they did was explain BMW’s target audiences across the world. I thought it was interesting that its marketing strategy for the spread out cities in the United States is different from that of the crowded cities in Europe. I never realized how many different factors, such as gas prices and even the electrical stability of a country, which a company would have to take in when trying to sell such a complex product in completely different environments.

I also thought that BMW presented its new “innovative” products in a very confident, yet humble manner. The attitude contrasted with that of Die Welt’s where they repeatedly boasted all of the newspapers accomplishments. With BMW, we were presented with the impact the innovation would have on consumers and how it would benefit society and the environment as a whole.

Speaking of benefits for the environment, it amazes me so much how much more “green” Germany is than the United States. On our train rides, I always see neighborhoods with each house having solar panels on the roofs. The folks at BMW also mentioned that Angela Merkel wanted to have more electrical cars in the near future, which brings up my next interesting highlight.

Marketing involves politics. I always knew that, but I never had a class on marketing so it was never made completely obvious. I thought it was so interesting how BMW talks with the government about the economics of transportation. It makes me feel like BMW is not just a monster company all for itself, but it also cares about society.

I saw a similarity between BMW and Süddeutsche Zeitung that they both make sacrifices to be the best of the best. BMW sells because it offers “premium” quality and the newspaper survives off of top-notch quality content. These are aspects to which consumers can become loyal.

To end the day the museum was an eye-opener and a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing all of the super old cars and learning about their history. I’m sure my dad, who is a car buff, will really enjoy the pics!

DAY 9 – Neuschwanstein castle

Lake near Neuschwanstein castle

Lake near Neuschwanstein castle

DAY 9 – Neuschwanstein castle

We have just been having the worst luck with weather here in Europe. Yesterday when we traveled to the Neuschwanstein castle in Austria, it was first a light sprinkle but became progressively worse. Then at BMW today it was nice until we had to travel back and forth between the café and museum – it was an absolute downpour.

But the weather had no affect on the beautiful scenery and intellectual people we met.

The train ride to the castle was gorgeous. Bright green rolling hills with a snow-capped mountainous background made for some fantastic pictures. Excitement was high in the air as the castle peeped through the trees and some of us stood on our toes to get the first glimpse of the fairytale castle we were all waiting for.

When we got there, I bought most of my souvenirs for my family and myself. I can safely say that my friends will be jealous of my large glass beer boot that says, “made in Germany” on it!

I’ve always heard the saying, “beauty is pain,” but I never thought it would apply to a day like this. It’s more like “to see beauty, you must endure pain!” There was a lot of walking…uphill. Good thing I have all those souvenirs to prove I made the trek!

We finally reached the castle and waited for the tour. People were everywhere. Apparently around 8,000 people visit the castle every day. 8,000! That is a lot of people to be trekking through only a few rooms in an old castle. Now, I had a lot of high expectations for the castle after reading up about it, and what surprised me was how little we were able to see of it. Even as we were waiting only part of the façade was visible, and only a few rooms were finished because King Ludwig had passed before its completion.

But the rooms we did see were astounding. My hand was itching for my camera, but I knew I wasn’t allowed to take photos. Ludwig was extravagant, and he wanted everything over the top. The carvings, the paintings, the furniture, the lights, the architecture…everything screamed royalty – and for just one man. And according to Andrea, who talked to the tour guide, there were some people who really didn’t want to work for this one man. The main painter of the castle had students do all of the work.

What made it all worth it was at the very end when we hiked to a bridge behind the castle where the alps towered over it and a waterfall flowed underneath. I could finally take in the full beauty of the castle. I felt as if I was in a fairytale dream.

But the life of Ludwig is like a fairy tale in itself, which makes the castle all the more fascinating. What Aimee had said I thought really brought his whole story together. He built it to get away from the public eye because it was during the time period transition when people were starting to favor elections and political power rather than God-sent monarchs. I believe she said the castle then was built out of fear. And a fear well purposed as Ludwig only lived a short period of time in the castle before some declared him insane followed by his mysterious death. Personally, I think it was murder!

The castle has a great story attached to it, but it would be even more magical if it weren’t a copy of an architectural style years ago. Ludwig was a romantic, and he wanted to turn back the clock. If only he could’ve done it after that fateful night stroll when he never returned.

DAY 8 – Salzburg

Carson and I in the garden used in the film Sound of Music

Carson and I in the garden used in the film Sound of Music

DAY 8 – Salzburg

From what I had so far experienced only in movies, now that I have visited the beautiful old city of Salzburg, the world seems a little smaller.

Tourists, tourists and more tourists – I heard a great deal of different languages spoken around me today. The whole experience was like stepping into a movie – almost literally as we saw many scenes from the Sound of Music up close and personal! But after Dachau, the contrast of solemn and bright, lively landscapes were very intense.

Our tour guide was very informative about the area, especially with fun facts about the Sound of Music and Mozart’s life. I did not know that the von Trap family actually existed. It’s been so long, but that movie is such a classic that young people today still know the songs. And I saw proof as a group of tourists bounced on the steps used in the movie as they sang “doe, a deer, a female deer…”

I liked learning about the different types of architecture from different eras in history as well. I thought it was interesting to know that in order for people to pass through buildings in Salzburg, they had to make little tunnel-like passageways (which make for the best pictures, by the way). Among many things, this is what gives Salzburg its distinctive look.

The gardens were so flawless and they were perfectly framed below the fortress in the distance. It was interesting to know the meanings of the Greek statues but that they were actually fake. It was unfortunate that some people still had disrespect even among all the beauty to try to find money in the fountains.

When we came across the main area of Salzburg before the bridge, the view took my breath away. Suddenly, the rain didn’t matter anymore. We learned that the locks on the bridge were symbols of love for couples promising to stay together. It seemed to be such a romantic city.

So much has been kept in that city as it has been for a very long time. The signs for the chic and local shops in the bending narrow streets were in the same style as they were ages before, fancy, elaborate and featured pictures of what the store offered.

The cemeteries and the churches have also been preserved very well. I was surprised though that the one church that our tour guide said was rebuilt and renovated about three times had very strange purple club-like lighting.

We also passed Mozart’s home that he grew up in. I found myself wondering what he would have created if he had lived longer. He was such a genius and he is honored everywhere in this town.

The tent shops were expensive, but Connor, Zack and I found our way to a beer garden. This was the first time I had ever been in one. Everyone was so happy and the beer was flowing. I never saw such an efficient operation of paying for beer, picking out mugs, washing them and having someone fill them all in one room.

A great end to the day was the really unique restaurant we visited at the very end. I heard it was extremely old and it was obvious with the curling staircases, the skinny hallways and quaint rooms. I had a fantastic view from my window of the river.

Salzburg is a place where people walk their groomed and behaved dogs. Passerby drop Euros into street musicians’ cans. Tour guides speak in several languages about Mozart’s hometown. Salzburg is such a cultural place to be. And I hope to go back someday because there was so much I didn’t have time to see.



DAY 7 – Dachau

Jewish memorial in the Dachau concentration camp

Jewish memorial in the Dachau concentration camp

Today we visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial. It was the most chilling thing I have ever experienced.

Throughout our lives during education we, as Americans, are taught what happened in the Holocaust not only because it is history, but also because it is important to recognize genocide so it doesn’t happen again. Besides the history classes and research projects, I also have seen the movie Schindler’s list. I thought I had a full picture in my mind of World War II and especially the Holocaust. I was wrong. Dachau, was the first concentration camp and was initially a prison for political opposition. It was an example for the other camps. It was also famous for the medical experiments that were performed on the prisoners, which often resulted in death.

It put me right there where I could touch the trees the prisoners touched, walk the road they walked and see the barracks they slept in. Nothing could be more up close and personal then the incredible memorial we toured.

Having Arnoud as a tour guide was also very enlightening. He told me something very touching that I will use in my story – he never ceases to be emotional whenever he visits the camp, even though he has visited more than one hundred times. He was also very adamant about taking photos so that it can never, ever happen again. But yet fascism still exists in our world and that is depressing.

Touring the barracks and walking the main drag were great introductions to the religious memorials. It refreshed my mind so I could truly immerse myself in their symbolism. Arnoud gave us some very interesting side notes about life in the barracks while we were there, such as if there was so much as a coffee stain on the floor the whole barrack would be punished. It was hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, not to mention extremely overcrowded.

The most fascinating religious memorial was the Jewish one. The architecture created such a chilling effect. It is very difficult to explain the structure, but what I felt was darkness and cold all around me, closing in on me until finally when I came across a solemn beam of light leading to hope

The Jews were hopeless for much of their time at the camp. Many committed suicide by running into barbed wire. There is a structure in front of the main tourist building that is made up of skeletons contorted together to look like barbed wire as a memorial to those who chose to end their suffering.

Everyone was quiet and avoided eye contact when we toured gas chamber and crematorium. I felt so uncomfortable because what I had heard and what I had seen in movies was real. It was here. Death occurred right where I was standing. But Dachau didn’t use the gas chambers to execute mass murders because it didn’t have the power and according to Arnoud, prisoners heard what was happening in Auswitch and started to break what was used in the chambers.

We also watched an older movie on concentration camps in the tourist building. It tied everything together, and was especially powerful because of the real video and photos they used of what the Americans saw when they came to liberate the camps.

I wish we had hours to read the rest of what was available in the building because it was all so much. I love reading about the lives of the people who were involved, what brought them there as well as their stories. I tried looking for the names of my relatives who lived in Poland at the time in a big book of prisoners’ names. I found a few, so I took pictures, and I plan on showing them to my grandma to see if she can recognize any of them.

I know from now on I will be even more sensitive to genocide – because I know it occurs in many areas of the world, especially Africa. It is not much different from the torture these people went through. It was a solemn day, but it was a necessary day. I just wish that the world could see what I saw.

DAY 6 – Munich adventures


A beautiful cobbled street in Munich.

DAY 6 – Munich adventures

Munich is just what I imagined. When I think of Europe, I think of what Munich looks like – there are beautiful old churches and monuments and there is a diverse collection of people crowding the cobble stone streets lined with souvenir and chic shops. But I’m planning on exploring those later. Today we focused on eating some authentic German food!

We started out our day with a very early flight to Munich from Berlin. Despite some strict baggage issues, the flight wasn’t so bad. I ended up sitting next to a young guy from Chicago. He said he is in Munich for two weeks with some friends and they are celebrating his 30th birthday by visiting 16 bars.

Speaking of bars – after listening to the Munich public relations representative talk, I was surprised as to how many tourists, especially journalist, come here just for the beer. There are millions more tourists than locals here, so then it made sense that all the restaurants have English menus and the waiters speak it as well.

She also said that her organization doesn’t work with social media because Munich hasn’t gotten there yet – or something to that effect. This relates to what I wrote about in my research paper; many Germans are still not familiar with all the Internet has to offer. It seems like Germans from Munich are technologically behind those in Berlin. It will be interesting to see if the media organizations are like that in any way.

I wasn’t a fan of what I ordered at the first German restaurant we went to. There is just something about it – must be the extra salt. I feel bad saying this, but I could really go for a nice angus burger with Heinz ketchup. I think I have eaten sausage every day on this trip so far! But I am glad I tried everything!

The tour we had today was wonderful, but I feel like it is just a prequel to the castle we are visiting later along with other parts of Munich. Our new tour guide seems very down to earth and has a “no fluff” attitude. He will tell us how it really is, which means we can get the most out of the experience.

It was interesting to know that the glockenspiel is still standing in Munich after World War II only because soldiers used it as a landmark to bomb other entities in the city. It makes me wonder what the city would be like today if 90 percent of it were still in existence.

I was happy we stopped in front of the glockenspiel for a few minutes to wait for some of the group. There is so much to take in as the building is incredibly intricate and large. I asked Aimee if the monarchs of the past stood up there to look down at their people and if the figures at the top were something symbolic of that. Of course the answer was no, and she said something else interesting – these structures are so elaborate because the monarchs wanted to intimidate people and create a sense of power and also to attract them to the churches and religion. Yes, these structures are incredible, but then again, how many people under horrible conditions were forced to build them stone by stone!

Despite the weather, today was a great introduction to the city of Munich. There is so much to handle at once! Sometimes I wish my eyes could take pictures!

DAY 5: Axel Springer

DAY 5: Axel Springer

It still is very strange for me to swallow the fact that an ocean separates me from my home. I know Munich is going to make me feel even more withdrawn from society. I feel so American here.

I felt this especially when we met the students at the Academy at Axel Springer. We asked them questions, but I was surprised the number of questions they asked us. They asked us about voting in the U.S., which was very eye-opening and also about simple things like smoking stigmas and the timeline of when people go to higher education.

It was such a unique experience to get media perspectives from people our own age. After speaking with some of our group, though, we all felt a little behind as one of the girls who was 18 had already published 3 or 4 books.

The bar/cafe on the 19th floor of Axel Springer.

The bar/cafe on the 19th floor of Axel Springer.

Three wonderful professionals took much of their time to speak to us about an overview of Axel Springer, the Academy, video and Die Welt.

I tried so hard to hang onto every word they were saying as I was covering the day, so at the end I was mentally exhausted. I have so many good quotes and my outlook on newspapers especially has changed dramatically.

As Richelle said, Germans tend to look at the big picture and think strategically. If I tried to mention all of the great points and ideas that were discussed today, this blog post would be thousands of words long. The key point I gathered was that the founder Axel Springer was a man who thought outside of the box, which allowed him to take risks and work his way to the top. Today his work ethic has carried the business to new expansions long after he has passed. With a wealth of money and credibility, Axel Springer can therefore make more risks and have the data to share with us about extremely new developments in media such as applications for iPads. That’s why it was so interesting. You aren’t going to read this in any academic journal just quite yet.

Their methods are so different from ours, especially writing for online and print and video permission guidelines, which gives me a whole new perspective on media at home. All of our media’s flaws stood out like a sore thumb! It was extremely interesting when they spoke about the different audiences all of their publications and the subsets within them. It truly ties all that I have been learning in lectures at school and at conferences together. Now I might be able to throw something I learned out there at a job interview!

I just want to mention that Leeor was a great host. We ended up getting an extra lecture from such a well-spoken man of high rank in Die Welt. He painted a picture of Jewish life from a perspective we probably would have never had, unless we read his column…which is more than likely in German. This goes hand-in-hand with what I said before about becoming a more cultured journalist.

I feel pretty lucky after such an enlightening day. I keep thinking in my head: innovation, innovation, innovation. Even in their slogan is the word “entertainment.” The science section in the compact version? Yeah, it’s called the “Internet” section just so people will want to read it. Journalism is truly morphing and even they didn’t know where it will be in the future. I am just glad to be a part of yet another adventure.

DAY 4: Great media day

me with beerDAY 4: Great media day

Today was a great media visit day.

Both the ZDF and DPA were very enlightening. I am so grateful for the experience we had at the ZDF. I don’t know if we would ever be able to get up close and personal with TV personalities like those we met. I was so surprised that Wulf Schmiese gave of his time to speak to us.

He had great poise and charisma – I could learn a thing or two from him. Even in a high-pressure situation, he was calm and diverted the conversation without being obvious. He also said that it is important in broadcasting to explain what people are saying without asking them to elaborate. I related this to print journalism in that everything needs to be spelled out and it requires some research on the reporter’s side before and after.

After reading his bio, I wanted to ask him about his passion for journalism and if he had any advice for upcoming journalists because I too will be working for my local paper. But I probably should have asked them separately!

After that visit I knew for sure that broadcasting wasn’t for me (even though I never really considered it anyway). I was so nervous sitting on the stage with the lights blaring. It’s just not for me, although it was a great experience.

Later I bought some fancy truffles for my boyfriend’s mom – one thing that I could cross off my to-do list. Then we went to a delicious authentic German restaurant and ate outside in the sun. Our waiter was very helpful and down-to-earth, which made the experience all the better. I also tried the light beer and it was very tasty! It’s so strange drinking in another country before I turn 21.

DPA was our next stop. This was my favorite stop yet. I love how each of our hosts so far have been very laid back and eager to show us things. The newsroom was a sight to see in itself. Newsrooms in America should look more like this one. The openness yields transparency between the writers and editors and the set up of the different types of media managers together was very centralized and efficient.

I thought Connor asked a lot of good questions during the photography lecture. I remember Christian Rowekamp saying that if the DPA would take public photos and post them on social media like the AP, they would “lose everything.” It’s a very different business model, but I can imagine how it would work. It was also extremely interesting to hear them talk about the relatively “secretive” reputation it has with the public.

I loved this visit especially because of the eye-opening photos that they showed us and their preparedness for the lecture. I would love to work in such an open atmosphere some day, but I also don’t know how I feel about working to make the clients make money and only indirectly informing the public.

The Reichstag was also very beautiful and a good cultural experience. I was not expecting the inside to look like the outside. It was so modern. I can’t wait for the ancient castles in Munich!

Overall, I loved that we met some German celebrities in front of and behind the camera. The knowledge I acquired is something that can be discussed probably at more places than just your local “pub.”  I will take it as a springboard for new ideas and discussions, starting tomorrow with Axel Springer.