“The modern, completely contemporary, ideal and easily expandable concentration camp,” said Himmler, when he described the Sachsenhausen. Sachsenhausen was a concentration camp near Berlin and through the gate have over 200,000 people walked. Many never came out.
30 kilometers from Berlin
Sachsenhausen is located in the town of Oranienburg, approximately 30 kilometers outside Berlin. The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was the first of its kind, which was built specifically to act as a concentration camp.
Sachsenhausen was introduced in 1936 and initially consisted of inmates from criminals, political opponents, and non-Germans.
When World War II started became Russian prisoners of war, the dominant category among the detainees. Executions by different methods existed and in 1941 were 12,000 Russian prisoners of war reported killed.
In 1942 an execution room, gas chamber, and crematorium were added.
Sachsenhausen as a labor camp
Despite the large death toll had Sachsenhausen a character as a labor camp. The prisoners worked among others with brick manufacturing and counterfeiting. Counterfeiting was the production of British pounds that were spread in the British territory. It was an attempt to weaken the British economy through inflation.
In April 1945 evacuation of the camp was ordered. The prisoners who were still alive had to start marching towards the northwest. An unknown number of people were killed due to cold, exhaustion or punishments.
Soviet concentration camp
When the Soviet army took control of Eastern Germany they continued to conduct Sachsenhausen as a camp, which was allowed to remain in its present condition.
Initially, the Soviets filled the camp with German prisoners of war, but these were replaced at a rapid pace. 1948 comprised the majority of the prisoners of persons accused of crimes against the Soviet occupation forces.
Any official figures were never presented, but according to the information in the Sachsenhausen, museum died around 60,000 inmates between 1945-1950.
Of these were over 12,000 killed on the spot by different kinds of violence (estimated numbers). When the Soviet Union fell, forensics found mass graves with 12,500 bodies that are considered to originate from the Soviet regime.
When the camp was shut down in 1950 a large proportion of the prisoners were displaced to the Gulag camps.
Today Sachsenhausen is a museum. On the site are also several buildings preserved and in these ongoing exhibitions. In the middle stands a high Soviet “liberation monument”.