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Published: October 16th 2011
It was a bit of a downer day as today we had decided to make the trip out to the Sachenhausen Concentration Camp. I was hoping to have gotten up earlier so that I could fit the alternative tour of Berlin in as well and hopefully the Pergamum museum (wow I was ambitious!) but I had gotten up too late for that, so concentration camp it was.
Derrick and I ate a quick breakfast while trying to figure out just how to get all the way out there, we would end up having to take a few trains totaling just over an hour then walk about 20 minutes the rest of the way out there.
We made it to the camp and it was free to get into which surprised me. They had done a fabulous job of bringing everything together without losing the sense of what happened to the individuals. There weren’t any statistics or broad numbers, everything was detailed around the individuals, and it really humanized the place by telling the prisoner’s stories.
Derrick and I were cheap and did not get the audio guide and for the most part it was not necessary, but I did
see a track of what looked like a bunch of different types of rock and gravel that went around in a large oval and I knew it had to have some significance but there was not a description of what it was. People who had audio guides would stand near it and listen; finally I stumbled upon a description in one of the buildings that detailed what exactly the track was for. Prisoners were used to test the soles of shoes and they would wear different shoes and would be forced to walk on this track for hours, up to 24 hours straight of walking to test the shoes. The track was indeed made up of all sorts of different materials to simulate normal wear and tear over long periods of time. We saw camps, hospitals, gas chambers, bunks, and washrooms as well. Many of the buildings were rebuilt using materials that were kept from previous buildings there.
As we walked around we saw people just sprawled out on the grass and wondered what they were doing, but the more we walked around we realized that this place was just so large and there was so much to see
and read that these people were exhausted and were taking a break, in which Derrick and I did the same at one point. You just get to a point where you are mentally and physically exhausted and you need a break.
Sachenhausen was built as the “model” concentration camp. It was built in a triangle so that the guards could see what was going on at all times. It was built as an inescapable place, and they succeeded since no one ever did.
After hours of walking around and taking it all in we had had enough and made our long trip back to the hostel where I promptly passed out in my bunk. I woke up and went up to the bar at the hostel to watch the Women’s FIFA soccer cup in which USA was playing Japan. I think I was the only one who cared since the bar was packed and no one seemed to be watching or cheering, I watched in anticipation as the shootout ended and USA was sent packing, but our girls played well and went far!
It was a bit of a depressing day all around with visiting the camp, USA
losing, and the fact that I was leaving Berlin in the morning, I needed at least 2 more days there as there is so much to do and see, but I will be back one day, Berlin is an amazing place!
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