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January 2nd 2016
Published: January 2nd 2016
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Today was bitter cold. Felt like 14 degrees Fahrenheit. So it was a perfect day to suffer through the horrific concentration camp near Berlin called Sachsenhausen. This was the camp that was the "model" for the other Third Reich labor camps. It was layered out in a triangular shape so that all sides could be observed from the guard tower A, at the entrance.

Even though it wasn't a "death camp", of course many terrible things happened here and 10's of thousands died here, often executed.

The most chilling story on this cold day was about the punishment that was dolled out to the entire camp when a prisoner escaped. At role call the SS officer, Rudolf Hoss (who later ran Auschwitz-Birkeneau) made the entire camp stand in a foot of snow with subzero temperatures for fifteen hours. One thousand people died from the experience. And I can believe it, because on this subzero day in our warm jackets a few short minutes going from one building to another is just miserable. Our 20 minute walk from and again back to the train station was brutal. Robyn was shivering like a leaf. Standing in it for 15 hours is unthinkable cruelty.

This camp was very different from Terezin which we saw when we were in Prague. That camp was basically a "pretty" propaganda camp for the Nazi's to show the Red Cross how "humanely" they were treating prisoners in their camps. This camp was the real deal, complete with crematorium (though Terezin had a small one as well), gallows, prison for political prisoners (where they were tortured for information before being killed) and it was even where the Nazi's tested the killing gas Ziclon B.

It wa a frigid and memorable experience.

Afterward we made our way home to Mitte and got some hot food and mulled wine at Saurcraut to warm up. Robyn had her Spatzele and I got a good Schnitzel.

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