Sunday, December 5, 2010


Last week our entire program went to Sachsenhausen, a former forced-labor concentration camp just outside of Berlin. While this one was very similar to the other one we went to in Weimar, it held more importance during the Nazis reign, as it was the administrative center for all concentration camps and where many SS men were trained.

Camp Entrance

This particular camp was known for housing political prisoners, but there were, of course, others there as well - Jews, criminals, homeless people - basically anyone who was different was at risk of winding up at one of these camps.

Like the other camp, many of the buildings at this one were no longer standing - but there was a replica of one of the barracks, and we were actually able to see where/how the prisoners lived.

Bunk beds, where prisoners slept, often sharing a bed with many others.

Common Area

Wash Room

 This particular barrack was for Jewish prisoners, and was actually almost burned down about 20 years ago. A group of Neo-Nazis came to the camp and attempted to burn down this particular part of it, because they didn't want people to remember or memorialize the Jews that had lived there.

The fire caused the paint to peel, but wasn't repaired, because the people at the camp
wanted it to stand as a remembrance for what the Neo-Nazis tried to do

In this particular camp, as well as many others, certain prisoners were assigned to higher positions. For example, one prisoner would oversee a barrack and get their own bed, and special privileges. This was one way for the Nazis to keep the prisoners divided and prevent them from rising up in defiance - because many of those assigned to these special positions, weren't very nice to the other prisoners at all. They would beat them, pick on them, basically just do mean, spiteful things, because they could. However, that doesn't mean there weren't those who were nice, in fact some of them did all they could to help out the other prisoners - they would provide secret German lessons, so foreign prisoners could understand the Nazis' commands, or help them switch jobs, if theirs was especially difficult.

However, sometimes it was hard to save people, as many were in fact killed either while working or just because a Nazi felt like it. At this particular camp, many, many Soviet Soldiers were killed - the Nazis gave the impression that they were just going to admit the prisoners of war into the camp, and took them, one by one, into a building and killed them.

Flowers in remembrance of those who died

What remains of the Crematorium

Memorial at Crematorium

It was definitely an intense experience, I mean, I did kind of know what it was going to be like, since I'd already been to one. But it didn't really change the effect it had on me. These memorials are definitely sad places, but it's important that we honor those who died, and remember what took place in these camps, so we can prevent it from happening again in the future.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

European Reunion and X-Mas Markets

The week of Thanksgiving I had some pretty awesome visitors!! My friend, Carola, from Munich - the one I went to Oktoberfest with - came up for the weekend before, and my friends from high school, Phillip and Jess came up for the whole week!!!

It was so much fun to see everyone and just explore Berlin! I was able to take them to the sights, and we went to the Christmas Markets (did a lot of Christmas shopping there), we ate bratwurst and döner, went on a pub crawl! It was just an awesome time and I'm really glad that we were all able to hang out - Phil and Jess hadn't seen Carola since she left VT a few years ago - so I actually didn't tell them that she was coming and we surprised them at the airport! It was great!!! :-)