If you’re planning a trip to Berlin, Germany, and have an interest in history, a visit to Sachsenhausen is a must. Sachsenhausen, located just outside the city, was one of the most important concentration camps during the Nazi regime. This blog post will guide you through everything you need to know before visiting Sachsenhausen.
1. A Brief Historical Overview
Sachsenhausen was built in 1936 and primarily served as an early model for other concentration camps. Its purpose evolved over time and it became a place of imprisonment, forced labor, and eventual extermination during the Holocaust. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were held at Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945.
2. Getting There
To reach Sachsenhausen from Berlin, you can take a train or bus. By train, you can take the S1 line from Berlin’s city center to Oranienburg, where the camp is located. The journey takes less than an hour. If you prefer the bus, there are several tour companies that offer day trips to Sachsenhausen from Berlin. Just make sure to check the schedule beforehand, as availability may vary.
3. Admission and Guided Tours
Entry to Sachsenhausen is free of charge, but you may want to consider joining a guided tour. The tour guides provide professional insights and contextualize the historical significance of the site. Audio guides are also available for a small fee if you prefer to explore at your own pace.
4. What to Expect During Your Visit
When you arrive at Sachsenhausen, you’ll find preserved buildings, reconstructed barracks, and informative exhibits that detail the camp’s history. The memorial site also features a museum where you can learn about the daily life of prisoners, see original artifacts, and gain a deeper understanding of the atrocities committed there.
4.1 The Appellplatz
The Appellplatz or roll call square is one of the most recognizable areas of Sachsenhausen and was the central point for daily roll call, where prisoners had to stand for hours regardless of weather conditions. Today, it serves as a somber reminder of the camp’s past.
4.2 The Tower A
Tower A is the entrance gate to Sachsenhausen and bears the cynical phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free). It is a chilling symbol of the deception and terror that prisoners faced upon arrival.
5. Etiquette and Respect
When visiting Sachsenhausen, it’s important to observe the proper etiquette and show respect for the victims of the camp. Keep your voice low, dress appropriately, and refrain from any disrespectful behavior. Sachsenhausen is a place of reflection and remembrance.
6. Take Time to Reflect
Visiting Sachsenhausen can be an emotional experience. Take your time to reflect on the historical significance of the site and the millions of lives affected by the Holocaust. Consider bringing a notebook to jot down your thoughts or light a candle as a way to pay homage to the victims.
7. Further Learning
If you’re interested in learning more about the Holocaust and the Nazi regime, Berlin offers various museums and memorial sites worth visiting, such as the Jewish Museum, the Topography of Terror, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
By visiting Sachsenhausen, you are taking a step towards remembering and honoring the victims of the Holocaust. Prepare yourself emotionally, be respectful, and take the time to educate yourself about this dark chapter in history. Your visit to Sachsenhausen will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact and contribute to preserving the memory of those who suffered.
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