Breakfast was needed and a drive into (and around) Munster found me outside Café Plüsch in Veestherrnweg (since closed). Cold meat, cheese and coffee get me going and I set off again.
Heading south along Wilhelm-Bockelmann-Strasse I noticed some street art, a shepherd and his dog with some sheep; very nicely done and worth a few minutes for some photos.
As I was due to pass fairly close by, I’d decided to visit Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp again. The last time – the only time – I’d visited was in 1975 as one of a group of young soldiers learning to drive. Then, the only building on the site contained a small exhibition of photos and items taken from the prisoners. There are now substantial exhibition buildings with an information desk and a book shop. When I commented on the changes to the lady in the bookshop she said that much had changed. I got the feeling it wasn’t only the building she was referring to.
The biggest impression made on me was as we arrived in 1975. A small flock of birds approached the camp. Just before they reached the boundary they turned as one and flew off in a different direction.
There remains utter stillness within the camp. No birds fly overhead and no animals are to be seen or heard. The only birds to be heard are a long way in the distance.
The panel at the entrance reads;
The exact number of people who died at the Bergen-Belsen POW and concentration camps is difficult to establish.
Almost 20,000 prisoners dies at the POW camp. The Wehrmacht had their bodies buried in a cemetery located 600 meters away from the camp.
At least 52,000 people died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Many of the dead were buried in mass graves in the grounds of the former camp following the liberation. Another cemetery is located at the Belsen barracks. So far, only 10,000 victims of the concentration camp are known by name.
Today, the cemetery in the grounds of the former camp contains 15 individual and 13 mass graves. In September 1945, Jewish survivors unveiled a monument which they replaced in 1946 with the Jewish monument that still stands today. Polish survivors put up a large wooden cross to commemorate the camp’s Polish victims in November 1945. There are also more than 100 memorial stones in the cemetery which were put up by relatives or friends of the victims.
In October 1945, the British military government ordered a memorial to be established at the site. The Bergen-Belsen Memorial with its obelisk and inscription wall was officially opened in 1952.
After leaving that sobering place I carried on to pass through Hanover driving in along Podbielskistrasse.
By now it was lunch time and spying a row of shops pulled into a parking space beside the Noltemeyerbrücke tram stop. The first eating place I saw was offering pasta and pizza which I didn’t fancy. The other the Alanya, was indeterminate but when I looked at the menu turned out to be Turkish. I couldn’t recall trying Turkish cuisine before so I decided to give it a try. I ordered what was advertised as “chicken cutlet”. It turned out to be about half a filleted chicken on rice and with salad and warm bread. It was gorgeous.
After lunch I took photos of the tram stop before setting off. Well, almost. I’d forgotten to move my sat-nav device off the dash where it had been in the sun. It had overheated and shut down. I had to spend a while cooling it off before it would work again.
With the sun blazing down from a clear sky the sat-nav gave up a couple more times before I left Hanover. The last time was as I was driving along Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse when it died. Without it, I didn’t have a clue where to go and there was a major roundabout ahead so I pulled over to cool the thing off.
As I was sitting with the blower going full blast and holding the tablet in the airflow I noticed a bus pull up alongside. The bus driver started to get out but seeing the driver on the wrong side and the UK number plates gave it up as a bad job. It was only then I realised I’d stopped in a bus lane. Ooops.
Fortunately, the hot brick came back to life and I could get moving before bringing one of Germany’s major conurbations to a complete standstill.
I drove on, safely negotiated the roundabout and continued along a dual carriageway, Bückeburger Allee where a late 1950s vintage airliner was parked. In passing it looked like a Vickers Viscount. To say I was surprised doesn’t begin to describe it. Luckily there was a petrol station a little further on and I was able to pull in and walk back.
Managing to leave Hanover without further ado I drove on. Realising that I wasn’t going to reach Herford (the last barracks on my list) in daylight I decided to visit Hameln of Pied Piper fame. I didn’t see a great deal apart from the market place and a couple of main streets, but it’s an addition to the “places to revisit” list. I drove on another ten miles or so and found a place to stop as darkness was falling.