A necessary day trip from Berlin, there is no excuse to skip this historical and eye opening tour.
April and I went with Sandemans New Europe Tours during a grey and gloomy day in Berlin, fitting to the site we were going to visit. I think it’s very important that you go with a guided tour so they point out the most important information. They said that if you read little blurb by pictures or objects, it would take 3 weeks to complete the camp.
I don’t have a whole lot of words to share, because I believe it’s better to go and experience it for yourself. I also didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, because nothing in print could compare to the actual site. I learned so much from this tour and our very knowledgable guide. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that I occupy such a small place in the world as I did in that moment.
Here’s just some basic information about the camp. It opened in 1936 and was a training center for the SS and prison for political prisoners. It wasn’t originally designed as a extermination camp until 1943 when a gas chamber and ovens were introduced to deal with Red Army POWs. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned during 1936-1945.
I don’t want to put a lot of my opinions out there other than this event in history is the worst thing I’ve ever learned about. But one thing that I wanted to share from what I learned is the extent of public involvement. I think when I was learning about WWII and the Holocaust in my history classes, I was always surprised that no one knew what was going on abroad. And the truth of the matter is, that everyone did know and some were using it to their advantage.
Adidas and Puma (the shoe brands) were founded by German brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler. Both brothers were members of the Nazi Party, both worked for a family shoe store but split because of differences. Rudolph was sent to Poland to fight and suspected that his brother turned him in. And this is where the internet stories end, but there’s more. Adolf Dassler sent new models of his shoes to Sachsenhausen to be tested by inmates. Inmates were given new shoes with the condition that they had to run 26 miles daily on a half circle track.
Coca Cola (the drink) was the preferred beverage of the Nazi Party. However the syrup to make Coca Cola was difficult to import due to a trade embargo between the US and Nazi Germany. Coca Cola sent them a formula to make an orange variation of the drink because all the supplies to make the syrup could be found locally. Want a Fanta? No thank you.
Again, the best way to learn is to visit.