When we were in school, we all learned about the horrible events that occurred during the Holocaust. We learned of Hitler and his hatred for Jews. We learned that millions of innocent people were slaughtered for no good reason.
But these are Just facts.
To fully (or at most partially) understand the events that took place during that period means taking a visit to one of the locations where it all happened.On Friday, July 22, our group took a north-bound train to Oranienburg Berlin, on our way to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. During its operating lifetime, Sachsenhausen was home to tens of thousands of people, may of whom dies of sheer exhaustion. Going to this camp was eye opening, as I was able to see the exact soil on which thousands of people were murdered. The walls which acted as prison, keeping them from seeing their families for one last time. As we walked about the camp, many of the horrible facts were explained through an audio tour.
- The walls of the camp were specifically engineered in a triangle shape so to allow one machine gun to shoot down an escaping prisoner at any location.
- There was medical research done on many kids. This involved injecting them with various diseases, like Hepatitis, and then waiting to see the results.
- As people entered the camp, on the gate that said “Arbeit Macht Frei”. This translates to “Work Means Free”. Many people were promised that if they worked hard during their time at the camp, they would be set free. Sadly, this was not very true, as most of the people that entered the camp died from exhaustion, were murdered, or were shipped off to another camp to be gassed. Very few were made good on that promise.
It felt very surreal to walk around that camp and see the exact buildings where these events took place. I saw the barracks were they slept, the buildings where the ill were treated, the grass where the daily roll-call took place. Even the towers where guards were placed, ordered to shoot as quickly as possible at anyone who entered the “death strip” at the edge of the walls.
I learned a lot about the Holocause during this visit. But even with vising a concentration camp, I am still not even close to understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.