Sachsenhausen was a German concentration camp during the period from 1936 to 1945. Later it was also used by Stalin's Russia, as a prison for political prisoners. It is located to the north of Berlin and was often used to train SS officers who then would be sent to administer other concentration camps.
Most of the prisoners were incarcerated because of their political beliefs. Many Soviet prisoners of war were executed here too, as were a smaller number of Jews. The Jews were normally sent to other concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Also imprisoned were homosexual, gypsies, artists and foreign nationals.
The living conditions for the inmates were deplorable and their treatment at the hands of the Germans was brutal. Basic facilities were limited and the camp was very overcrowded. It is estimated that over 100,000 prisoners died here between 1936 and 1945 due to hunger, malnutrition, disease, exposure to the weather, executions and brutality.
The site was established as a national memorial in 1956 by the East German government. Many of the original buildings were removed by the government but many including the guard towers, crematory ovens, camp entrance and barracks still remain.
A museum and memorial have been constructed. The museum graphically depicts life in the camps. It is filled with artifacts from this period including documents, clothes and artworks. Outside the museum you can see several structures including, the perimeter watchtowers, the Pathology block over the Mortuary Cellar used to house bodies prior to cremation, execution trenches and the remnants of the SS troop barracks. There is also a separate museum which documents the life of prisoners in the Stalin era.
There are no restaurants or eating places within the camp but there is a small shop which mainly sells books about Sachsenhausen.
A visit to KZ Sachsenhausen leaves most visitors in a somber and reflective mood.
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