• Anne Nova

All You Need To Know About The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial And Museum Tour

During our recent visit to Berlin, we managed to include a tour to The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial. The memorial is located about 35 km North of Berlin, about an hour by train. The site was active between1933 and 1950.

During its active years, the camp was used to incarcerate political and intellectual opponents of Germany's conservative elites (1933-1934) and political opponents of the Nazi regime, members of groups declared by the Nazis to be racially or biologically inferior, such as Jews, Sinti and Roma, and people persecuted as homosexuals, as well as so-called “career criminals” and “anti-socials” (1936-1945).

The camp was also used as a training centre for Schutzstaffel (SS) officers until 1945 and as a Soviet Special Camp between 1945 and 1950

Several tour operators in the Greater Berlin area offer day tours to the site. After some research, we chose a tour by Original Berlin Walks; they have great reviews and do not require pre-booking. You can simply show up, register and pay at the meeting point. Here are the details about the tour:

  1. Check the Original Berlin Walks website for tour schedule

  2. Meeting Point: 10 a.m. at Hachescher Markt outside Starbucks

  3. Duration: About 6 hours

  4. Cost: 17.00 euros per person plus an ABC train ticket, 3.40 euros each way.

Meeting Point at Hachescher Markt

The meeting point is used by other tours that start at the same time. After our group was identified, our tour guide, Wouter, provided information about our itinerary and other housekeeping items. Before heading to the train station, Hackescher Markt Station, we were reminded of some of the logistics: food, water, and train tickets. The train trip took us to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and, from there, to the Oranienburg Train Station, our destination.

There are no food concessions at the memorial. Pack enough food and drinks for the duration of the tour (6 -7 hours) Also, wear comfortable shoes as the tour requires a lot of walking.

Sachsenhausen Station A where prisoners were registered before entering the camp

From the Oranienburg's train station, we walked for about 20 minutes to Sachsenhausen. We made a few stops during the walk as our tour guide explained the social and economic situation of the town prior to the establishment of the camp in the 1930's. It was a sobering walk through the quiet streets of Oranienburg reenacting the final miles of the journey of all Sachsenhausen prisoners made after arriving the Oranienburg's train station. Aside from some modern touches, the town remains as it was during the camp's active years between the 1930's and 1950's.

Our tour guide, Wouter, was very knowledgeable, attentive and friendly. He not only described what we were seeing; he provided detailed accounts on how the camp was perceived and experienced by town locals, prisoners and guards.

Sachsenhausen is one of the few camps in Germany where some of the original structures are still standing. Starting at Station A, we made our way through the camp stopping for short information sessions and free time to explore the exhibits. We had the opportunity to visit some of the original barracks, kitchen, prison (a prison within the camp) and the infirmary. A few barracks have been preserved in its original condition, others were either fully or partially renovated and were converted into museum exhibits.

While this memorial grants no further understanding, since understanding is impossible, the visit to Sachsenhausen was a sobering experience that reminded us of the importance of the duty of remembrance itself. It stands as a very real reminder of the consequences when hate and intolerance are handled with indifference and silence. It reminds us to never again be silent or indifferent in the face of evil.

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