The construction of this concentration camp began in the summer of 1936 by prisoners from the Emsland camps. The camp was built as an equilateral triangle with the barracks grouped symmetrically around an axis with the Kommandantur centrally located. In front of the Kommandantur was a semicircular assembly square where the counting of the prisoners took place twice a day. Initially, it was mainly political prisoners who were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen, but from 1938 prisoners were also imprisoned from racist and anti-social motives. In connection with Kristallnacht in November 1938, Sachsenhausen was one of three camps Jews were sent to (the other two were Dachau and Buchenwald). About 6,000 Jews were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen as a result of Kristallnacht.

After the outbreak of war in 1939, foreign nationals were also imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and in 1944 90 percent of prisoners were foreigners. It was also in Sachsenhausen that Norwegian prisoners in block 18 worked with counterfeiting English banknotes. These would, according to Nazi plans, be spread across England to create inflation and severely harm the british economy. Prisoners were often forced to work in various war-producing industries in or near Sachsenhausen. In 1941, 18,000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived. Of these, about 13,000 were killed.

Sachsenhausen had hundreds of satellite camps. There were also extensive medical experiments conducted on innocent camp prisoners, usually with a fatal outcome. Prisoners were deliberately infected with gangrene, which was later treated with a new antiseptic cure. Many soldiers in the German army suffered from gangrene and hence this experiment. The doctors also tried new forms of ammunition that contained poison. The idea was that if the enemy soldier did not die from the shot itself, they would die from the infection spread by the shot. Therefore, prisoners were shot deliberately so that doctors could follow the course and results of the infection.

In 1942, something called Station Z was built and was part of the camp where the SS murdered prisoners. At the end of the war, thousands of prisoners were forced out on Death marches to other camps or parts of Germany that were not directly threatened by enemy forces. The camp was liberated by Soviet forces on April 22, 1945. About 200,000 prisoners were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. In august 1945, the Soviets established a detention camp for Germans who were nazis or suspected of being nazisympathizers in a part of the former concentration camp. This internment camp was called Special Camp 7 and existed until the spring of 1950 when it was closed. About 12,000 people died during the Soviet period.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (1998).

Address: Strasse der Nationen 22, 16515 Oranienburg.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

I have never felt that it is unpleasant to visit any concentration camp, but Sachsenhausen was an exception. At the pathology, there is a cooled damp basement with three rooms each of a total of 200 square meters. In these rooms were preserved corpses that would later be autopsied. The first time I went down in the basement I was all alone and it was completely quiet and a little chilly. I usually do not feel touched, but when I stood at the end in one of the rooms, I got an unpleasant feeling that made me just wanted out. I have visited Sachsenhausen on several occasions after that but never had the same feelings. It can be difficult not to say impossible to recreate feelings and experiences from previous visits.

Follow up in books: Kogon, Eugen: The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them (2006).