“Arbeit Macht Frei.” Those are the words that the prisoners saw upon entering the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. That is,“Work makes you free” (translated roughly) was the lie that welcomed those that came to Sachsenhausen at the ever dreaded Tower A.
I never truly understood the extent of the lies and the propaganda that were used to cover up the atrocities hiding behind those gates. Within the entrance at Tower A was a post office which the prisoners were able to use to send out mail. However, the messages sent from that post office did not tell the truth about what really happened behind the gate at Tower A. The audio guides that lead us through our tour of Sachsenhausen told us of the many prisoners that found 300 volts across an electric fence to be a far more pleasant option than trying to survive their imprisonment. But this sort of truth was not what was sent out from the camp by its inmates under Nazi overwatch that carefully constructed the false vision and lies to cover their misdeeds.
But perhaps the most powerful moment of the tour was standing before the gas chambers–the death chambers–and the execution trenches that claimed so many lives. And there are no words that I can say that can capture what can only be taken in upon seeing these horrific remains in person.
Our stay at Sachsenhausen lasted some hours, but there is so much to be taken in from such a place that one day simply cannot do this history justice. If you ever have the chance to visit a concentration camp such as Sachsenhausen, please do.