Scrapbookpages Blog

February 24, 2017

Sachsenhausen camp gets no respect

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 8:38 am

This morning, I read a news article about tourists taking selfies at the memorial site at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Just what constitutes appropriate behavior at a Holocaust memorial site has been a hot topic recently. Last month, the Israeli-German writer and satirist Shahak Shapira reignited the public debate about “Holocaust tourism” with a website “shaming” tourists who appear in flippant selfies taken at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Shapira’s site, titled Yolocaust, superimposed smiling tourists with gruesome images from the Holocaust, such as piles of corpses.

End quote

Tourists posing for photo at Sachsenhausen memorial site

Tourists posing for photo at Sachsenhausen memorial site

My photo of the gate into the Sachsenhausen memorial site is shown below.

My photo of the Sachsenhausen entrance

My photo of the Sachsenhausen entrance

My photo of trees at the end of the entrance road

My photo of trees at the end of the entrance road

How did I get a photo of the Sachsenhausen gate with no tourists in the picture?

Simple — I was the only person there. I walked around for a couple of hours, and saw no one else. Most people go with a tour group, but I was there all alone.

The original Sachsenhausen concentration camp was designed by 29-year-old architect SS-Untersturmführer Bernhard Kuiper in the shape of an isoceles triangle, or pyramid, with the apex of the triangle at the rear of the camp and the two equal sides of the triangle forming the side boundaries of the camp. The gate house was located at the base of the triangle in such a way that the machine guns in the guard tower on the top of the building could cover the whole camp.

According to Rudolf Höss, who was an adjutant at Sachsenhausen before he became the first Commandant of Auschwitz, “Arbeit Macht Frei” means that works liberates one in the spiritual sense. Höss was himself a prisoner at one time and he complained about having to sit all alone in a prison cell without having any work to occupy his time.

When Höss was sent to Auschwitz, as the Commandant of the camp, he had this same slogan put over the entrance gate into the Auschwitz main camp, which was called Auschwitz I.

When the Sachsenhausen camp was later turned into a Communist prison for German citizens, the Arbeit Macht Frei sign was removed and the prisoners did not work.

Immediately in front of the Sachsenhausen gate house is the roll call area (Appellplatz), which is shown in the center of my first photograph above.

According to a museum pamphlet, the SS constructed a shoe testing track here in 1940 where prisoners of the penal commando had to test the soles of army boots by marching for days. The civilian director of the shoe-testing operation was Ernst Brennscheidt, who was sentenced to 15 years of forced labor after he was convicted of Crimes against Humanity by a Soviet Union Military Tribunal in October 1947.