Our final 24 hours in Germany turned out much different than we ever imagined. Inspired by the emotions brought forth from the previous day’s sites, I asked Ben if he would be interested in spending the morning at a nearby concentration camp. My mind had returned to tales shared by my fifth grade teacher and lifelong role model who once visited a camp and told us toned down stories of the gas chambers and poor conditions which met not only Jewish persons, but members of many targeted minority groups who were taken from their homes. Unfathomable. I couldn’t imagine what would go through anyone’s mind on either side of the battle as this happened. I wanted to see the grounds of a camp for myself, and Ben agreed.
We went early on Saturday to meet a group tour, finding that shuffling large groups from place to place can be a harrowing task, though in return being led by a more knowledgeable person is worth the extra time spent waiting. Our tour guide leader through Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was an Irish man from with a passion sharing his knowledge for all things related to the Holocaust. He showed us through the barracks where grown men slept three to a bed: a bed smaller than a traditional twin, stacked three levels high, and crammed into a room among 50 identical beds. He told tales of medicinal treatments tested on patients, painted a picture of the trickery and misconceptions which took place and and led us to the horrifying cremation grounds. As we left the camp, we took note of its proximity to neighboring houses. Not 10 meters from the gate we exited, there began a neighborhood. I couldn’t help but imagine The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and similar stories which could have taken place in that exact spot.
It was a chilling experience and left us emotionally drained. Due to the size of our group, the entire day ended up focused on train rides to and from as well as plenty of time spent within the camp. Though as I mentioned it wasn’t what we’d expected the final day of our trip together to be like, I’m so glad we made it a priority.
I’ll leave you to explore the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp through photos and have included a link to their website at the bottom of this page so you can learn more.
Check it out the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp’s website at: http://www.stiftung-bg.de/gums/en/index.htm
Also if you find yourself in the area, I would highly suggest going on a tour. We went through the following site, highly recommended: http://www.newberlintours.com/daily-tours/sachsenhausen-memorial.html