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What Were the Concentration Camps in Berlin?

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Concentration Camp

Want to explore sachsenhausen concentration camp? Come and join us on the Original Berlin Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Tour.

During World War II, Berlin served as an important center for the Nazi regime. The city was not only the political capital but also the site of several concentration camps. These camps were used by the Nazis to incarcerate and exterminate millions of individuals, primarily Jews, but also political opponents, Roma people, and others deemed undesirable to the regime.

1. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was one of the first Nazi concentration camps constructed after Adolf Hitler came to power. Located just outside Berlin, Sachsenhausen served as a model for other camps in the Nazi system. It became operational in 1936 and continued to operate until its liberation in April 1945.

Within Sachsenhausen, prisoners endured forced labor, malnutrition, and brutal treatment. The camp held mainly political prisoners and individuals considered racially or socially unacceptable to the Nazi regime. Many were subjected to medical experiments, and over 30,000 people died in Sachsenhausen during the Holocaust.

2. Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Ravensbrück, located around 90 kilometers north of Berlin, was the largest concentration camp solely for women in Nazi Germany. It was established in 1939 and held women from various background, including political prisoners, Jews, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The conditions in Ravensbrück were deplorable, and prisoners were subjected to medical experiments, forced labor, and torture. Approximately 132,000 women passed through the camp, and around 20,000 of them died as a result of the harsh treatment, starvation, and disease.

3. Oranienburg Concentration Camp

Oranienburg, located near Berlin, was the first purpose-built Nazi concentration camp. It was established in 1933, shortly after Hitler came to power, and operated until 1934, when it was replaced by Sachsenhausen. Oranienburg served as a blueprint for the subsequent camp system.

The camp primarily held political prisoners and individuals considered enemies of the state. The prisoners faced severe mistreatment, including beatings and forced labor. Oranienburg became a model for the larger network of concentration camps that would follow.

4. Columbia-Haus Concentration Camp

Columbia-Haus, located in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, was initially established as a prison. However, it was later converted into a concentration camp. It primarily held political prisoners, including members of the Communist Party and resistance fighters.

Conditions in Columbia-Haus were harsh, with prisoners subjected to torture and executions. The camp played a significant role in suppressing political dissent in Berlin during the Nazi era.

5. Gross-Rosen Subcamp

Gross-Rosen was not a stand-alone camp in Berlin but rather a subcamp of the larger Gross-Rosen concentration camp located in occupied Poland. The subcamp was established in 1944 near Berlin’s Schöneweide district.

It primarily held prisoners used for forced labor in nearby factories. The prisoners endured grueling conditions and faced high mortality rates due to the harsh treatment and extreme workload.


The concentration camps in Berlin were part of the wider Nazi camp system and played a significant role in the persecution, imprisonment, and extermination of millions during the Holocaust. Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Oranienburg, Columbia-Haus, and the Gross-Rosen subcamp were just a few examples of the inhumane camps that existed within or near Berlin.

Remembering and learning about these camps is essential to prevent such atrocities from happening in the future and to honor the memory of the victims.

Want to explore sachsenhausen concentration camp? Come and join us on the Original Berlin Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Tour.


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What Were the Concentration Camps in Berlin?

Mar 7, 2024