Berchtesgaden – Bavarian Paradise with an Unfortunate Past

Bavarian houses on the hills near Berchtesgaden, Germany

My travels in May 2012 involved a trip to speak at a conference in a place that I could hardly pronounce, and was only vaguely aware even existed. A bastion of Bavarian Germany in the Alps called to me, drawing me into an area of untold beauty that has been spending the past 60 years trying to shake it’s association with the evils of Nazi Germany. I was headed to the city of Berchtesgaden in a small sliver of Germany called Berchtesgadener Land.  This city is a destination that possesses all of the trappings of amazing natural beauty; soaring mountain peaks, delicious Bavarian cuisine, and some of the best beer in Germany. Despite all of this, however, I couldn’t help feeling the constant chill of the vestiges of Nazi past here, and couldn’t help comparing the pictures I took to those taken by Nazi soldiers here who shared the same plazas, mountains, and vistas.

Despite the tainted history that the Nazi past imparted on this place, I can sympathize with the residents here who had little control over what became of their mountain paradise.  Great efforts have been undertaken to ensure that this place does not become a Nazi shrine, and tourism efforts here focus solely on the natural beauty and the pre-WWII history.  So, in the end, I discovered a paradise in the Alps that I would recommend to anyone, despite the history.

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