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One of the things that you can’t and really shouldn’t avoid when you go to Munich is the dark side of it’s history.  It’s a beautiful city, with beautiful culture, and beautiful people.  And at the same time, it has a past – an evil past.  And the city has made a decision to be open about that.

As I walked along the streets of Munich, I came across evidence of this.

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Nazi rally

This is a picture of an early Nazi rally, just a few blocks away.  Nazism started in Munich.  And as you can see, people were easily swept up in it.  It’s called the herd mentality.  This picture is a reminder that while individuals may be bright and intelligent, crowds rarely are.

It’s also a warning that this can happen in any nation, including the US, if we aren’t vigilant.  I’m always a bit weary of politicians, or any “leader”, who speaks boldly and who draws large crowds of followers who are willing to follow blindly.  In my opinion, we have a few politicians who fit this description running for president right now – and no, not just some of the obvious Republican candidates.  Let’s just say that I’m not feeling too positive about our political future right now.

The other end of the spectrum is that Munich has also done some unique things to honor those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis.

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On the grounds of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, you’ll find these (pictured above) monuments put right into the sidewalks.

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They are tributes to the White Rose movement – one of the Nazi resistance movements at the University in 1942.  Their story is compelling.  They did what they could to fight against the evil of Nazism and they paid with their lives.  The tribute represents pamphlets against the Nazis that they made and were distributing and were dropped from up on the tower.  Read their story here.  It’s worth it.

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This tribute is a reminder that there are individuals who recognize evil and will do what they can to stop it.  They will die to self and if that means they die, then that is the cost they are willing to pay.

The difference between them and the Nazis is stark.  In both cases, there is a willingness to do what was needed.  In both cases death is the result.  But the difference between the two is immense.  The White Rose did what that they to stop other from dying at the hands of the Nazis.

I pray to God we don’t need to make more tributes like this in the future anywhere on the planet.  But I also recognize the reality of humanity and I wonder, where will the next tribute be laid and how soon?