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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

Article about: Outside again now and this is a shot taken from roughly the centre of the camp, just in front of the Soviet Liberation Memorial looking back towards the main entrance. A look back along the

  1. #1

    Default Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    A few images from my trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp at the end of last November.

    The camp was mainly used for political and criminal prisoners and was opened in 1936. After 1945 it was used by the Soviets.
    The weather, while looking bright, was absolutely freezing with a wind chill of about -25. It put into perspective just how bleak conditions were here at the camp for the inmates with such basic living conditions and clothing.

    A description for each photo is below and should follow in sequence. There are quite a few to upload so please bear with me as I add to the thread.

    The first photo is of the entrance from the main road. You pass between the upright sections and into the building beyond.

    After passing through the building there is a walk of a couple of hundred metres along the perimeter wall with watchtowers every so often before you reach the main entrance to the camp.

    Turn left into the main entrance and you are faced with the gatehouse through which you must pass to enter the camp proper. To the right of the photo there is a museum with a few exhibits and testimony from former inmates.

    Inside there is a stained glass window as a memorial to those who were interned here.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Inside the small museum there are a few artifacts on display from the period.

    An SA uniform.....

    An SA dagger, boots, a visor cap I can't identify, an armband and a few buttons, badges and cartridge cases.....

    The original alarm bell and one of the camp gates.....

    A prisoner's jacket, some original barbed wire and electrical insulators from the fence.....

    Original fence posts, rolls of barbed wire and some of the blocks used inside the camp to demarcate the roll call area from the main body of the camp (you can see these later).....

    Another shot of the barbed wire rolls and also a box of electrical insulators.....
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    Last edited by Adrian; 03-06-2011 at 10:23 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Back outside again, turn right and the main entrance to Sachsenhausen is in front of you.

    Walking through the arch you see the infamous slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei' in the gate.....

    Step though and you are at the edge of the former roll call area. Note the semicircular wall made of the blocks with the cross in them as seen in post #2. Beyond that the tall obelisk in the centre of the photo is the Soviet Liberation Memorial.....

    Turn around, look back and you see the other side of the main entrance - Guard tower 'A' - with the panoramic window. This building housed the offices which dealt with the camp administration.....

    One half of the roll call area. The track with the loose rubble in the foreground which follows the line of the semi circular wall is the marching strip. Prisoners were forced to march over different surfaces, sometimes up to 40km per day, to test out military footwear. The track is continued on the other side of the roll call area.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Fantastic pictures Adrian Sachsenhausen was the first camp to use 'Arbeit Macht Frei' over the gates. Rudolph Hoess used the idea later for Auschwitz

    Thanks for showing!

    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    There are only a couple of prisoner barrack huts left on the site. As you enter this one, you turn right into a narrow corridor. On the left are the toilets and washrooms and at the end you can see the prisoners day room, beyond that is the dormitory. There was another such dormitory and day room at the opposite end of the hut.

    The washroom.....

    And the toilets.....

    The day room.....

    And the dormitory area.....

    In 1992 the barracks were damaged in an arson attack. They were reconstructed but the fire damage was left unrepaired in this hut which adds to the sombre atmosphere.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Last set of photos for this evening.

    This is the punishment or prison block. Set aside from the main barrack huts and behind a brick wall this building was probably the most feared within the camp. A single corridor with cells off to each side kept prisoners in isolation.....

    There was no escape from the foreboding atmosphere in the very basic cells.....

    Outside in the punishment area the three poles with spikes at the top were used hang prisoners by the wrists. The individual was made to stand with their hands behind them which were then bound together. The tied hands were raised and they were then suspended on these poles for up to half an hour with dislocated shoulders a distinct possibility. You can read more on this form of punishment - called 'strappado' here.

    Leaving the punishment block and turning left you can see in the distance the watchtower at the far end of Sachsenhausen, almost in the centre of the picture.
    The camp is laid out in a triangular shape so imagine the main entrance/gate in the middle of the bottom side and the watchtower in the photo being directly opposite that at the apex of the triangle. The concrete coffin shapes mark where a barrack hut once stood.
    The green huts to the left of the picture are home to more artifacts from the camp....
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Very sombre looking Adrian, did you feel the atmosphere, heavy and depressive, i felt that at Belsen, so many memories and feelings of that day that i cant describe them all, but one stands out in my mind, an overwhelming sadness made even more eerie by the fact that amongst the absolute silence there was the rumble of artillery from one of the army ranges some miles away, i imagined that the inmates at that time may have heard similar as the war drew closer to them and i sat close to one of the mass graves, and i dont mind admitting it, i wept .

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    To be honest Dave I found it hard to get a true feeling of the atmosphere. In certain places and seeing certain things there you could get a sense of the atrocities that occured and there was a general feeling of depression hanging over the place but I've felt more emotion visiting war cemeteries because to me there is a visual stimulus by way of the grave stones whereas at Sachsenhausen somehow there wasn't quite the same effect. I don't know if it was because this camp is possibly less well known than places like Bergen-Belsen, Dachau or Auschwitz and doesn't attract the same level of publicity (if that's the right word?). The fact it was absolutely freezing probably didn't help because we were trying to keep out of the bitter wind as much as possible.
    I've got some more photos to post tomorrow which are more sombre and provoke more thoughts and feelings. We didn't stay long in the mortuary - there was an unpleasant atmosphere down there.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Ok, continuing the tour. Now in the green hut as seen in the last photo in post #6 there are some of the original artifacts on display. Some of the more disturbing items are preserved here.

    The first two photos are of the cart that was used to collect and transport the dead to the crematorium or mortuary from places of execution or from the barrack huts where inmates may have died of cold, starvation or illness.

    The next is of a sled that was used for the same purpose as the cart but in icy or snowy weather when the cart was impractical.

    The contraption in the fourth photo is a purpose built bench used to flog or beat camp inmates as punishment. The unfortunates had their feet secured in the box at the end nearest the camera facing the bench, were bent over and tied down using the leather straps. Punishment was then administered.

    The original gallows of Sachsenhausen. No further explanation is needed.

    The last photo in this post is one of the most disturbing. It is a measuring device to measure the height of prisoners. It hides a dark secret. Note the slit used to apparently adjust the height of the gauge.
    The following is taken from the explanation within the camp crematorium which I will show later.

    The inmates selected for murder entered the undressing room through the corridor and were led from there either directly into the gas chamber or into the 'doctors room'.
    There, SS personnel dressed in white coats examined the inmates and marked those who had gold teeth or fillings. In this room there was also a gramaphone on which loud music was played.
    An SS man led one inmate at a time through the antechamber into the actual execution room. He then stood the inmate in front of a measuring rod fixed to the wall. At a signal from him, another SS man (one of two taking turns) fired from the neighbouring room through a slit in the wall by the measuinring rod into the back of the victim's neck. After the shot had been fired, two inmates from the crematorium detail opened the door to the mortuary which was strewn with sawdust. There, the gold teeth were pulled out of the corpses of those marked beforehand.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp..

    Below ground now and into what was the camp kitchen and food preparation area. As you can see, the inmates decorated the walls here with cheerful cartoons which was quite unexpected and seemed completely out of place with the surroundings of the camp in general.
    These are the original drawings, restored where necessary and preserved.
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