Görlitz Sachsenhausen
Berlin Archives

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was built in 1936 during the Olympic Games in Berlin. Located just 45 minutes outside of the city center (by S-bahn), this concentration camp was the first of its kind in Germany. In the beginning it was used primarily to house political prisoners. Because of its proximity to the capital, this camp was also used for many medical experiments.

This is a picture of Sachsenhausen Concentration camp taken from just inside the front gates at the bottom of the machine gun tower. The camp was originally a triangular shape and the machine gun tower, the highest structure in camp, kept every building and person within its range. When the Soviets built the Sachsenhausen Memorial in 1961 they built the wall along the line where the original camp buildings would have stood and built a higher tower at the far end of the camp to break the line of site from the machine gun tower and symbolize their victory over Fascism.

Here is the machine gun tower by which the prisoners were kept under close watch day and night. This camp, the first concentration camp in Germany, was praised by Hitler as a "completely modern" camp and was used as the model for later camps.

The gate to the camp bears an inscription which can be seen on other gates at such camps as Dachau. Losely translated it says: "Work is freedom." or "Work makes you free."

This is a view of the camp from the side. Here you can see the stone markers which mark the original location of the huts where the prisoners slept.

It is a traditional Jewish practice to place stones on graves. Here they are placed on the markers of the former buildings in the concentration camps.

Sachsenhausen was primarily a camp for political prisoners who opposed the Nazi regime. For this reason and for reasons of propaganda, the Soviet's originally left out any mention of the Jewish victims of this concentration camp in their plans for the memorial. After protest from the international community, two huts were built using pieces from remaining huts on the location of the original Jewish section of the camp. In 1997 this section of the memorial was badly burned by a neo-Nazi group. The camp directors have chosen to leave traces of the fire in the buildings.

This is a map of all of the concentration camps located through out Germany and the surrounding countries during the Nazi period.

This part of the camp was the cremetorium. Many prisoners were also shot to death here. The original building was destroyed by the Soviets who planned to make this area a shooting range, but under protest from former prisoners the foundations were left and a roof was eventually built to cover them. Nearby is an execution pit. Prisoners would be herded in and shot en masse.

This monument, built by the Soviets, lists all of the countries from which victims of this concentration camp came. A Soviet soldier stands behind the prisoners, liberating them from their persecutors. There is a great deal of irony in this since the Soviets used Sachsenhausen as a Special Camp for political prisoners until 1951 and during this time 12,000 people died of starvation, hunger, and maltreatment here.

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This tower was built by the Soviets to over-shadow the machine gun tower at the far end of the camp. The red triangles symbolize the political prisoners from the twelve countries represented by the victims of Sachsenhausen. By chosing the red triangle for this monument the Soviets ignored the other prisoners, Germans and Jews, who lost their lives at Sachsenhausen.