On Saturday, 7th September 2019, I visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
I went with a tour operator named Insider Tour Berlin, which I highly recommend.
Insider Tour Berlin
I went to the West meeting point, and they had a lot of helping guides making sure none of us got lost. An Extremely friendly bunch. They give you really personal attention.
A tour guide named Chloe, an extremely friendly girl originally from England, welcome the group. While she gave us personal attention, her task was to take us half way to meet with Martin, a Tour Guide who was born and raised in Oranienburg, Germany, the town where the first Concentration Camp, Sachsenhausen is located.
Martin’s knowledge about history, and his passion about sharing his knowledge to contribute towards a better world was like a fountain of love. He didn’t just give us the historic facts. He got us to imagine, think, take our time, question, and really understand the kind of mentality of humans who built and operate these camps, who witnessed, and those unfortunate souls, the victims.
He was my hero and my teacher for that day.
What I learnt from Martin
24th March 1933, an act was passed that enabled SA (Assault Division) backed by Adolf Hitler to legally continue his madness.
What was formally Thuggery and Unacceptable now became legal.
Somewhere in mid March the same year (1933), first SA Concentration camp was setup in Sachsenhausen.
There had been so much thought and planning gone into the design and architecture of the camp itself
Whilst the entire design was to serve a purpose for Hitler’s and his Follower’s needs, I could not stop seeing a Buddhist Stupaya (ස්ථූපය), Chaitya (චෛත්යය), or Da-Gaba (දාගැබ) in the aerial view of the main camp area that is encapsulated within a triangle.
What vastly different purposes for the same identity given for a pictorial object in my mind!
What vastly different human beings behind the same!
One was intended for harm, created by an Evil Man!
One was intended to save what remains of a Noble Man!
Both preserves a Man and a Message!
Later, this camp was taken over by SS or Schutzstaffel, an elite and recognised group of inhuman humans!
They ran the camp from 1936 June up to 1945.
An Administration Centre for all activity was built in 1938. A quite large building, probably employed a large number of people, as the prisoners increased from around 2000 to around 14000.
This building as well as most other buildings within the Camp, including the beautiful houses on the road on the way to the Camp had been built by the prisoners.
The houses built by prisoners, for the workers of the Camp, who tortured their minds, bodies, and spirit.
I wonder what went through these prisoners minds!
P.S: I was trying to take a picture of the house, but the group of beautiful people who visited the camp with me that day coincidentally was walking past.
The original camp became too small and the initial triangular design, around which a lot of other structures were already put up, could not scale to the new needs.
The Camp which was 25 hectares, ended up being 388 hectares.
The Welcome Sign
At the welcome, the prisoners were told that they would find peace here. And they had no prior knowledge of what goes on in there.
The one true thing humans fundamentally desire the most!
A state of peace. Both external and internal.
And the Evil captured in a Human Shell mocked the prisoners with this!
This is so sick!
It makes me sick!
But, having had to go through the torture and pain, they would have been wanting peace.
Why are humans so mean to each other?
Early days, everyone had to shave their heads as soon as they entered the camp, they were allowed to keep their clothes. But, in 1938 they introduced the striped pyjamas.
The Female – Bottom of the Food Chain
Female rights clearly were nonexistent during this time. The camp was mostly male, and a handful of females had been selected to work as sex slaves for selected prisoners!
Yep! They had to go through the same pain, and more!
Sex is a beautiful thing,
with no consent or control, having to go through laborious physical work during day time while processing so much about their losses, and without no financial, or any other incentive or reward,
they were forced to sexually please the superior breed!
How many died? Who died? Why?
The first mass murder happened in Sachsenhausen in 1941, when over 10,000 prisoners of war from Soviet Union were killed.
Thousands of educated people including professors were killed here.
A man who clearly didn’t value knowledge or wisdom!
Jews made up from 10% to 20% of prisoners.
And there were other labels, categories, and subcategories! Each label had a badge.
– Political prisoners of war
– Criminals (Unsure what constituted to a crime, when the biggest Criminal of recorded history is deciding)
– Socially Different (Once again 💁♂️)
– Free Thinkers
Danish and Norwegian, Aryan prisoners were treated a little better.
Homosexuals and some other inferior prisoners had to do dangerous jobs like defusing bombs.
426 bombs found!
Royal Airforce only shared their flight plan 10+ years ago, and now it’s getting easier to locate these bombs that were used 3/4 a century ago!
Last one found 4 weeks ago. 🤦♂️
Camp had a hospital, but more than 90% didn’t have access.
In November, 1936 Gustav Lamper was killed in a “hat game”, a cruel method that forced the prisoner to go to an area called “Neutral Zone”, by throwing their hat to the zone, and ordering them to pick the hat.
The officials could shoot any prisoner with no questions asked if the prisoner crossed the line to Neutral Zone.
When Ego Driven Self Validation kicks in, taking a human life had looked like a game!
And Ego is Ego!
When unaware, the thirst never quenches!
The method got famous and soon was followed in other Camps.
From year 1945 to 1950 thousands of Germans both part of the SA, SS, Etc and not voluntarily involved with Hitler’s madness were imprisoned here. Many died over hunger and diseases.
Hate! More Hate!
Somehow there has been an endless supply of man made identities to kill and harm another man!
Some other torture tricks that made it to the books of history, while some torturous techniques would have only been seen by God!
In the morning roll call, a Jew would be selected to exercise naked in front of everyone before the day’s work.
The prisoner accommodation itself was a torture technique.
The tour group was shown inside of the camp setup that was for the Jews.
It consisted two sleeping sections, each having bunk beds. Each bunk bed had 3 levels. There were 25 such beds on each section. Originally designed for 150 prisoners. But later years, each bed had to be shared by 3 prisoners, who had to share 1 level of a bunk bed.
Food was a watery cabbage soup with a slice of bread, about 500 calories for these people to do hard labour.
They had to wake up 4.15 am every morning, make bed, clean room, wash up and go to the toilet, and by 4.45 they had to make it to the morning roll call. If they didn’t make it in time, they will be penalised. The toilets were VERY limited considering even the original intended numbers.
British and other military information holders were considered special prisoners. So they had somewhat spacious, yet isolated chambers.
But the punishment to get them to talk was hang them on this pole, and 25 whips in lower back and they had to count in German. If they messed up they got it again. Some would collapse, and pass out due to pain. Some would get severe damage to organs, and with limited access to hospitals, they would also soon deteriorate and die.
About 1200 homosexuals were said to be imprisoned.
Of course, this has to be the somewhat flamboyant lot. Then there would have been the others who were “manly”, but who knew very well about their own inside story, but helplessly watching!
The “cure” for homosexuals was castration. Most ended up getting infections and died. They say more than 700 ended up being castrated and dying.
Unfortunately, end of the holocaust, didn’t end homosexual suffering. If they survived, as per the governing law, they went back to prison.
Only in 1993, homosexuality got legalised in Germany!
A little memorial existed within the camp for homosexuals. I had nothing to offer, yet everything to offer. Earlier this year, I received a rainbow coloured wrist band from Australian SES Fire Crew. I left it there in the memorial, only as a token, but I will carry them in my heart as long as it goes on.
A teeny-tiny, memorial also remains in a corner within the City. Opposite the Jewish memorial. If it weren’t for Martin, I wouldn’t have known it existed. Fortunately, on my way back to hotel, I went and had a look.
Did anyone try to escape the camp?
In 1936, 7 people tried to escape.
6 of them were crucified!
The 7th, when they found in Belgium 4 years later, was beaten up severely every morning.
After 3 such mornings he ran into the electric fence and killed himself.
Holocaust and the World Wars are Lessons for Humans, But Have we Learnt?
The amount of effort, careful planning, and creativity that has gone in to carefully addressing issue after issue that came up in their torture and killing facility, to be able to give the most amount of torture in the most silent way fascinates me…
If that kind of creativity and passion was channelled towards humanity….
But, we haven’t learnt…. After many decades, we still channel our creativity to kill. We still have wars, prisoners of wars, refugees of wars, and then groups who judge and discriminate them.
Why did you create humans? This doesn’t make sense!
Is this a tiny mistake in your coding? Did you mistype something, or create a feature which turned into a nightmare?
These days humans want to create robots!!
What if they create a similar mistake in coding!!!
Isn’t one such breed of idiots enough?
If you are really there, which I feel you are,
Thankfully, what they tried to erase, couldn’t be erased. Soviets rescue mission worked for the aged, sick, and feeble who couldn’t walk or move.
It was only about 3000 prisoners, but Soviets gave them medicine and revitalised them.
Of course poor prisoners wouldn’t have trusted.
But they all got free. Some were forced to share information, and some others in later years, shared their pain and suffering. The world got to know how cruel humans can be.
I personally am disgusted by the level of cruelty.
In Sri Lanka, we had a president, Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa. Him and his entourage, with his knowledge and order, and of course using his name, many other evil people, tortured and killed an entire generation of educated humans. I was around 7-9 years of age, when most boys and girls aged 17-25 was at the risk of being tortured and killed, whether or not they supported Communism.
The amount of dead bodies we saw, the amount of missing people, the amount of mothers, who never saw their son’s or daughter’s dead body, who couldn’t find closure. The pain continues.
Yet, we haven’t learnt!
The Holocaust was said to have ended in 1950. At least that is when this Camp I visited became inactive. It is 2019, 70 years have gone past. The pain still exists in the Camp, the energy speaks a million things.
But, the world continues to be run by ill will and hatred. Hopefully, one day, we realise and become kinder to one another.
– Nim –