One of my favorite spots in Munich is one that few notice.
But that’s true of many cities. I do like the out of the way, the off the wall places.
But this one’s neither out of the way, nor is it off the wall.
But still, few notice.
It’s the Viscardigasse, otherwise known as “Shirker’s Alley”. Or, back in the day, Drueckebergergasse, as a drueckeberger is a hedger or quitter.
There is a lot of history in this alley.
But before I get into the history, I will preface by saying that my focus on German history, as a student of history, has not been the Holocaust. I do not think it should be, no matter how horrific those events were. The story of Germany and the worldwide contributions of the Germans is epic. But like any other society or nation, there are its low points. The 1930’s and 1940’s were Germany’s.
Spacially, Viscardigasse is a small alley (hence the -gasse suffix) that connects two significant parallel roads, Residenzstrasse and Theatinerstrasse, both of which head northward from Marienplatz. Viscardigasse stretches east to west, just south of Felderrnhalle, which faces the Odeonsplatz.
The importance of Viscardigasse reaches back to 9 November, 1923. On that day, an illegal march led by Adolf Hitler, with a goal of revolution, was confronted by Bavarian National Police along Residenzstrasse, next to the Felderrnhalle. The march became known as the Beer Hall Putsch.
During the confrontation, gunfire erupted, resulting in 16 marchers and 4 police killed. Hitler was arrested and sentenced to a prison term.
Jump forward several years, after Hitler gained power. He ordered a plaque to the 16 “martyr’s” be placed on the Feldernhalle. After that, passers-by were required to render a sieg heil as they passed the plaque. Compliance was monitored by Nazi supporters.
That’s where the story of Viscardigasse starts.
As Jews or anti-Nazi individuals would approach the Felderrnhalle, they would duck down Viscardigasse to avoid rendering the salute. Soon the Nazi’s caught on and started stopping individuals walking down Viscardigasse, demanding their reasons for avoiding the Felderrnhalle. Those that could not provide sufficient reason were often whisked away to camps.
Taking the Viscardigasse was a form of resistance.
And a way to become “disappeared”.
So when we are in Munich, I choose to stop and reflect between these walls, looking at the stones as a whole, but especially the bronzed stones forming a wavering, ever decreasing path, before disappearing midway down the alley.
While the reflection does include the events leading to the placement of the stone, reminiscent of stolperstein (example here), memorial in the alley, the reflection turns more introspective, wondering if that Viscardigasse would be the path that I would take in the face of such an oppressive regime.
Wondering if I could leave Goddess behind like that.
Wondering if Goddess would join me.
But I seriously doubt that I would go out so passively.
That is the result of reflection.
So why the title “Fleeting Memories”?
Because as we sit, observe and reflect, so many tourists pass by the alleyway, walking quickly down Residenzstrasse and Theatinerstrasse, enroute to either the Odeonsplatz or Marienplatz, oblivious to the significance of this small alley.
Or, as in the picture below, we see many tourists and locals walk right down the alley, hurrying to and fro.
And we wonder, how many are even aware of what they are walking over?