Munich’s golden path marks the brave souls who resisted Hitler
Down the middle of a small side street in the centre of Munich runs a small trail of gold.
It could be easily overlooked or passed off as some insignificant curiosity, but in fact it commemorates the subtle resistance of many Germans to Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
Many people look back at that horrific period of Germany’s history and wonder why people didn’t stop Hitler, or protest against him.
That is to ignore the awful brutality and totalitarian nature of his rule.
Yet despite the presence of concentration camps – not only home to thousands upon thousands of persecuted Jews, but also to any dissident Germans who put their heads above the parapet – and SS or Gestapo officers who would shoot first and ask questions later, many people in Munich did resist; even if only in a small way.
The golden path is a monument to their bravery.
Adolf Hitler came to power through legitimate means in 1933, but ten years previously he had attempted to take the country by force.
His 1923 putsch saw the Nazi party try to seize power in Munich. The attempt was an unmitigated failure.
During the uprising 16 National Socialists were killed in a gun battle with police in the city’s Odeonsplatz.
Hitler himself was arrested – and subsequently was able to create the show trial which saw him gain huge publicity and prominence.
When he came to power ten years later, the Nazi leader created a memorial to those killed during the putsch.
It was located at the Feldherrnhalle on Odeonsplatz, the imposing nineteenth-century memorial to the Bavarian Army.
On it was a plaque honouring those who died for the Nazi cause.
It no longer stands there, but at that time it was guarded by two SS men. Anyone who passed the sign had to give an immediate Nazi salute. If they did not, or were not deemed to have done so quickly enough, the guards would leap into action, shooting them or if they were “lucky” condemning them to a life in Dachau.
The people of Munich quickly learned to adapt to this dangerous situation, but not all were happy to do so.
Many started to avoid the memorial, scooting down Viscardigasse – the small street I mentioned earlier and also known as “Shirker’s Lane”.
By doing so they didn’t have to pay tribute to Hitler or those Nazis killed in 1923. A small, but incredibly brave piece of resistance.
The SS guards came to notice this, though. An undercover Gestapo officer was placed on Viscardigasse, and if he saw someone regularly taking the route he would jump out and question them.
The wrong answers would earn people a bullet to the head – hence why the golden path ends so abruptly.