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Sachsenhausen concentration camp: visit and reflections

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Main entrance gate to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Never has a trip been so short until I arrived from Berlin. Presumably this city does not bring great personal experiences like other trips full of monuments and breathtaking landscapes but this city leaves a mark on your heart and will captivate your mind. The capital of the reflection would call me, a city with a history erased but resurfaced from the ashes.

Any traveler who has seen some cinema will remember great films inspired by the Second World War and the Holocaust. We have all felt something special seeing what the human being is able to accomplish in order to fulfill a dream. An atrocious dream latent in the mind of atrocious beings. We have felt shame watching movies in which hundreds of thousands of people die while others turn their eyes elsewhere, watching as the human being ceased to be human without resisting certain death.

We have all been captivated by movies based on this conflict and we have felt a kind of tension in the neck while the projector was spinning but when we left the movie theater we all returned to our lives, we commented the next day in the office how bad the Jews, gypsies or homosexuals passed it during the Nazi period but there is the thing, in a mere reflection between coffee and coffee.

That is the feeling that I have always had with this subject, you think you understand the magnitude of the genocide but you forget it moments later until for reasons of destiny you plan to go to visit Berlin, that city that you always leave aside because you think it does not contribute anything. Only the images of buildings of grotesque proportions, big cars, beer and curry sausages come to mind.

The fact is that when you have traveled half of Europe you have the other half to visit and one who is a great traveler can not be blinded by the topics and should seek the best of each destination.

Before each trip, I recommend and apply the advice whenever I can, buy a good travel guide. A good guide does not mean that I have to take a multitude of anecdotal photographs and comments from here and there, a good guide will lead above all, and it is my particular way of understanding, a section dedicated to the history of the place you are going to visit. In my case, the plane trip is the ideal place to immerse ourselves in the captivating historical facts, in this case of the German capital. After investigating the pages of the book I find a section dedicated to excursions outside the city. Highlights one above all, - Sachsenhausen-.

This rare term gives its name to a Nazi concentration camp of World War II. After reading a brief summary of what I am going to find there I decide that this will be one of my priorities on this trip. What I did not know yet is that it would be one of the most traumatic but at the same time enriching experiences of my life. It is curious this decision on my part since one day I promised a close friend not to visit a concentration camp in my life since I believed that they were still standing to earn money at the expense of the barbarism that happened but I could retract the promise made to my friend after knowing the true reality.

Said and done; After several days of tourism in the Berlin capital, I decided to march towards Sachsenhausen. Sadly and as usually happens in the countries of northern Europe, the day does not accompany, cloudy and gloomy until dusk. The fact is that bad weather allows the concentration camp visitor to better understand the life that the prisoners had to lead.

The field today is considered as a monument to oblivion, his mission in the forties was to go unnoticed in the eyes of the allies and hence he is lost in the middle of a forest surrounded by large walls of dark granite.

After a short walk through a nearby town you arrive at the entrance of the field. Right in the accesses you feel that the visit you are going to make is not going to be a typical visit of photographs, video, smiles and "potato". Visitors cross the threshold that separated freedom from death, the entrance of the field with the famous phrase Arbeit macht frei (the work will set you free). Upon crossing you perceive something strange in the environment, the gray color and barbed wire denotes pain and suffering.

Without going into an exhausted account of the history of the countryside, I will comment on the impressions that impacted me most after going through it.

At the entrance you have a kind of hall to try boots. The Nazis built a kind of corridor about 50 meters long and about 4 meters wide by which certain punished prisoners had to travel 50 kilometers daily to test the rubber of the soles of the military boots that were manufactured for Nazi soldiers . Imagine traveling that amount of kilometers in a 50-meter corridor, round trip constantly, all day walking alone, without contact with anyone, turning your head and thinking about loved ones. This corridor passes very unnoticed among visitors but I was struck by its history, I perceived it as the worst possible punishment.

Another macabre data in my opinion was the clothing that the prisoners should wear. Personally for the visit I wore two inner shirts, a sweater and a coat with its corresponding hat and scarf. It was a cold February day with temperatures around zero degrees. I stopped to think when in one of the exhibitions I observed the typical striped suit put on a showcase. How cold, I thought. How could they spend the winter in that simple striped suit without heating? I still can't find the answer.

The fences in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen

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