Being there

Last January I went to Germany and I had a chance to visit one of the biggest concentration camps in Europe: Sachsenhausen.

The camp was operating between 1936 and 1945. It was named after the Sachsenhausen quarter, part of the town of Oranienburg. The camp is sometimes referred to as Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg.

From 1936 to 1945 it was run by the National Socialist regime in Germany as a camp for mainly political prisoners; from 1945 to spring of 1950 it was run by the Stalinist Soviet occupying forces as “Special Camp No. 7” for mainly political prisoners.

On the front entrance gates to Sachsenhausen is the infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (German: “Work makes free”). About 200,000 people passed through Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Some 100,000 inmates died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition or pneumonia from the freezing winter cold. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation.

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