Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Copyright 2012 by Margie Hofman
children and my grandson live in Berlin. Because
my daughter works I sometimes go over during school holidays to keep
an eye on him – he is 13 and ‘everything is boring’
son said “I know you are interested in war time history. There
is a camp 22 miles north of Berlin. Get away from the city as it is
so hot. The train system is good and it is a part of Berlin you have
never seen. – Well you can say that again.
am fascinated with the history of the Second World War and have read
many books, but this place I did not know too much about. My son
bought us tickets to the station called Oranienburg and that brought
a flicker of recognition that I had heard of this town before. Came
out of the station and there was a signpost to SACHSENHAUSEN
caught the bus and passed large houses with beautiful gardens. Got to
the old camp and passed through the main gates, The information
centre described the set up of this vast came with huge SS buildings
and accommodation before entering the camp proper.
did not start out as a death camp but a camp for political dissidents
those who opposed Hitler and priests who were brave enough to stand
in front of their congregations and denounce this terrible evil.
Martin Niemoller was one brave man. Also rounded up were trade
unionists and communist leaders, politicians who questioned the way
politics were taking a turn, none of them survived.
unlike Auschwitz was not a death camp where people went in and were
killed the same day. There were no children in Sachsenhausen, mainly
men. Russian prisoners of war who were shot in their thousands. Brave
English commandos who were caught including John Godwin of the Royal
Naval Volunteer Reserve who somehow managed to shoot dead the
commander of his execution party. Hitler had given an order that all
commandos captured were to be shot.
are all around the grounds. One plaque is for 100 Dutch resistance
members and another for French miners. The ,prison cells are still as
they are and people throw flowers in them. The prison cells of the
British have Union Jacks on the wall and some visitors have thrown in
English coins with the Queen’s head upwards.
from detaining important prisoners, hundreds of Germans were brought
here. Sachsenhausen was a place of torment. Called out in the morning
on the huge parade ground, some, during the winter, dropped down and
died as they were kept there for hours while they were being counted.
Some prisoners were made to test army boots and made to walk a
circuit of some 15 to 20 miles a day – all this with very
uplifting thought of this terrible place is the amount of young
Germans who visit and see this haunting memory of their history and
also youngsters from all over Europe.
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