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.|
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.