Today we visited Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in Fürstenberg, about 1 1/2 hours north of Berlin. We took the Regional Express Train (a double-decker with a great view of the windmills, farms, and architecture) to the Bahnhof (the actual station prisoners came through en route to the camp).
This was a women’s camp, predominantly for political prisoners and “asocial” people. Though it is much like Sachsenhausen’s population, we are now visiting a women’s forced labor camp instead of a men’s forced labor camp. Here more than 132,000 women were prisoners and over 10,000 were murdered, in particular over 6,000 died in the gas chamber (no longer standing) within a month before the Red Army liberated the camp on April 30, 1945. Many survivors provided sketched testimonies of their experiences and we were able to view these in the camp prison’s cells.
Unlike Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück has chosen not to reconstruct buildings in order to create an experience of what the camp was like. Rather, the goal is to preserve the state of buildings as they are. Thus, all of the structures are original to the camp (including the crematorium we visited at the end of our tour).
We thank our wonderful guide for his expertise, compassion and sensitivity to the testimonies of the victims and the survivors.
Please pardon the camera work on some of these videos. While I was a bit shaky, I was doing my best to avoid photographing our guide, as he could experience repercussions from hate groups.
Here is the group walking down the road up to the camp, in fact, on a cobble-stone road constructed by the prisoners:
In this video you see the main administrative building for the camp’s operations as well as the homes of the SS officials (1/2 of whom were women officers):
We had the chance to view a special part of the camp – pictures and a manuscript which cataloged all those who were murdered at Ravensbrück:
Here we are in the main are of the camp right near where the kitchen was located (standing where roll call happened and punishment by standing occurred). The barracks are no longer standing, so in the second clip you can see what the camp looked like previously (the first taken around 1944 & the second around 1958):
This is inside the camp prison, where many survivors & countries were given cell space to display memorials to those who were murdered: