Sachsenhausen Memorial August 16, 2015

Today we met Heidi again - no Daisy today. We took the train to Sachsenhausen Memorial about one hour ride from Berlin. We got off the train and walked the Trail path where inmates walked enroute to camp. The train used the same tracks used back then. We saw one guard tower, commandant quarters, and SS buildings.
The entire camp is surrounded by 10 feet wall with razor wire on top. Between wall in inmates was a field. Along field was electrified fence with 450 volts. 

Building housing inmates was divided into two sides. Each side was filled with 250 inmates. Inmates slept 3 to a 30 inch wide mattress in a bunk bed. Between the two sides were the bathroom and wash rooms. Five hundred inmates shared a 8 toilets and two bathing tubs. Inmates had 30 minutes each morning to get up, make bed, bathe, and eat before roll call. Beds had to be made perfectly according to NAZI rules. If not, then the inmate was beaten.  Inmates tried to make their beds and rushed to toilets before others however inmates on upper bunk would step on lower bunk bed after it was made, therefore disturbing the made bed. So the inmate who had left would be beaten because the bed was not made perfectly. This created environment where all inmates tried to leave and go to toilet at the same time.

The inmates were fed 300 grams of bread and 300 grams of broth per day. Each inmate had one bowl and a uniform. Inmates were made to fight among themselves by rationing. If a button was gone from uniform then inmate was beaten. Some inmates who were there longer knew how to trade by either stealing buttons or bowls and trading with other inmates. Entire camp methodology was psychologically induced by shock and fear so inmates ended up fighting amongst themselves.

Saw medical facilities, trench where inmates were shot, ovens, containers for ashes, tools used to haul ashes, and field where roll call was conducted morning and evening. Guards were positioned where they could watch the entire camp.
Prisoners were taken by truck for an hour and a half just to end up on the other side of camp where they thought they were going to have medical check up. In actuality they were shot then their valuables like gold tooth were taken and the inmates finally cremated. If ovens ran all day they could cremate 2000 people a day but this did not happen because the ovens were off when prisoners arrived in order to keep them calm. Prisoners were made to drag stone brick to cover footprints in the sand.  If any prisoner fell, the rest would run him over with the stones dragging him along the way for the rest of the day.

Camps started out as labor camps not death camps. Over time experiments were done on people. Over the years camps grew in large numbers. Eventually Nazis experimented with ways of killing inmates to reduce the numbers. We saw some of these methods including hanging, shooting, gassing, and beating. Inmates were made to participate so they would get more rations. One way was for inmates to carry or bring the condemned to a device where the condemned would hang from a noose until dead. The SS was concerned about the psychological effect on soldiers killing inmates. So they devised methods where soldiers did not have to see the inmates as they executed them. One way was to stand the condemned in front of a device where a gap would lead from the back of the condemned's head into another room where the soldier would fire his weapon into the back of the head of the condemned.

Any inmate who stood out would be beaten regularly until death. This includes anyone too tall or too short. This is why the inmates would stand in the middle so that they would not stand out.

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The train station near Sachsenhausen. This is the exact spot where the inmates arrived.

The prisoners then had to march through the streets of the town to get to Sachsenhausen.

Many townspeople said after the war that they were not aware there was a work camp. But they had to have seen the prisoners marching through their town. In fact, some of the townspeople jeered the inmates and spat on them as they marched by.

This photo was taken just outside the Sachsenhausen work camp.

A guard tower. We decided not to take pictures of the inside of Sachsenhausen out of respect for the people who suffered and died there.