Reflections on Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

When I think of Germany, I think of engineering, efficiency, soccer, beer, and sausage. But I also always think of World War II and the holocaust.

Several weeks ago, we took a day trip to the memorial site of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.  Despite this trip taking place several weeks ago, I still remember it very clearly because of how much an impact it had on me.  Going through school, I learned a lot about world war II history and the holocaust, and these are things that just stick with you.  Visiting the site where these events actually Continue reading “Reflections on Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp”

Reflections on Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the Holocaust Museum, and the Jewish Museum

History has many scars where men have done terrible deeds. Mao in China, Stalin in Russia, colonialism, apartheid, slavery, Hitler in Europe, the list goes on and on. With modern technology and large populations, these tragedies grow vastly in size. On this trip we had the opportunity to wrestle with one of these tragedies: the Holocaust. Continue reading “Reflections on Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the Holocaust Museum, and the Jewish Museum”

Reflections on WWII, the Holocaust, and the Aftermath

Our visit to the Concentration camp Sachsenhausen was a depressing occasion with buildings that were used in all the atrocities against the Jews. While Sachsenhausen was not as large of a killing camp as Auschwitz there were still an ungodly amount of murders here.  Some of the things I saw were a track used to test shoe materials for troops (the Jews and others in this camp were forced to run all day with large loads), ovens for burning deadbodies. However, that is not to say it wasn’t worth the hour trip. It was a useful trip to gain insight into the German past and the culture of Germany today. It’s one thing to hear about what happened in the 30s and 40s but its another thing to visit the place where these things happened. Germans have a word Vergangensheitsbewältigung which translates roughly to “Overcoming the Past” this is the word used when Germans talk about their Nazi past. Going to Sachsenhausen I was able to get a glimpse of how deeply emotional this history and word is to the Germans because even as an American that is not associated with these things I felt a deep sadness cling to me when I visited.

This feeling of sadness or maybe even shame about their past has led to a culture that is vastly different from ours. Germans are very rarely outspokenly “patriotic”. That is to say that Germans don’t act like Americans that are typically prideful of few things more than being an American. Germans on the other hand are not openly prideful of their country (that is not to say they aren’t they are just wary of being extremely patriotic). The one place that Germans show their national pride (something that I have seen personally while here) is in sports, especially Soccer. While Germany is not over what happened in WWII, they are learning how to have pride in their country while not ignoring their past.

A visit to Sachsenhausen

After visiting both the Holocaust museum and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, I realized how much of an impact that the holocaust had on the history of Germany during WWII and affects the country today. The holocaust was one of the largest genocides in recorded history where the Nazi party wanted to create the “perfect race” of Germans so in order to do that they sent P.O.W.’s (Prisoners of War), Jews, or anyone against the regime into concentration camps like Sachsenhausen all over Germany and the other areas that they occupied during the war, where they were malnourished, worked to death, or killed via gas chamber . After the war and to this day, Germans are not proud of their nations past. Today in Germany, students are required to visit the holocaust museum and or concentration camps to prevent history form repeating itself. Personally, it scares me how man could do such horrors to other men just because they weren’t like them. The visit was a sobering experience that I will always keep with me always.

Sachsenhausen Reflections

Being able to visit a real concentration camp and walk around inside of it was very mind blowing and disturbing. It was bone chilling to see the conditions that the Germans put the Jews through. This experience is not comparable to just seeing pictures of concentration camps and hearing stories of the horrors. It saddens me to think that people could put other people through such horrible experiences. When I walked around the camp, I tried to imagine what it felt like to be contained there and how I would feel after being torn away from my family.

I think it is really important to not bury these stories but instead educate the world so that we can avoid something like this from happening in the future.


It was very interesting after visiting the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the holocaust museum to see how much the Germans are making an effort to show what they did during WWII and to remember the people that died. There are also plaques throughout the entire city that show who lived in that building during WWII and the concentration camps they were sent to. They had plaques for people that died during the Holocaust and also for those that escaped and survived. The Holocaust museum was interesting because there were a lot of quotes from Jews about what they had to experience and what they witnessed. One particular quote I remember was from someone that survived the Holocaust. She mentioned how she was not an important character to tell the story of what happened because the important people were the ones that died.

Sachsenhausen Reflection

During our visit to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp it became apparent to me just how much Germany is making an effort to overcome its past. Germany has done a great job memorializing and paying tribute to the victims of the Sachsenhausen camp. There was such a wealth information there it was hard absorb it all.  It was very sobering to see how a “civilized’ country could commit such atrocities. I think the German government did a very good job of preserving the site, even though many of the buildings were lost during Soviet control. I am glad to see that Germany is not trying to gloss over what happened under the Nazis, but instead is doing everything its power to make sure things like this do not happen again.