SACHSENHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP: THOUSANDS OF LIVES TRAMPLED TO DEATH MARCH
On the border of life and death
The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was created when Berlin hosted the Olympic Games of 1936. During major sport contests Nazi dictatorship of Adolf Hitler did its best to hide its racist and militaristic nature. Masking an anti-Semitic program and plans for territorial expansion, the regime used the Olympic Games to represent a look of peaceful and tolerant Germany in front of many foreign observers and journalists. Nevertheless, the same time, 35 kilometers away from "cheerful" Berlin, a vigor building of infernal machine of death was in progress.
The organizers of the camp were experts at executions, lethal injection and other methods of killing, which have little to do with human nature. Nowadays, inside the murderous triangle, thank God only just as a terrible reminder, there is commanders’ territory, guard towers, a pathological department, ditches, residential barracks, crematorium, gallows, bomb shelters, and former prisoners’ kitchen.
All the camp inmates were divided into eighteen categories, as indicated by marks on the memorial. People ranked in each group had to sew the identification marks on a striped robe. Thus, the Jews were obliged to wear the Star of David, Soviet spies - red embroidery. By the way, for the Jews in the concentration camp they built a special extension, called "lieberose". It is known that the Nazis also persecuted representatives of non-traditional sexual orientation – homosexuals had to go with a blue stripe. In addition to these categories of prisoners who were the most numerous in the camp, the Nazis subjected to persecution everyone who doubted their ideology, such as the members of the Communist Party, the Social Democrats, and clergy.
When one of the commanders of the Sachsenhausen camp Anton Kaindl got to the court and appeared on the prisoners’ dock, he unveiled many crimes, which up to that point remained classified. So, Kaindl reviled that until 1943 the main penalty was shooting or hanging. For entertainment, the Nazis staged brutal competitions, who among prisoners was higher, and who was shorter and then did collages of photos. However, the purpose of these measurements was not fun - doctor who measured height, in fact, was an SS, and while measuring had time to shoot the victim in head.
After 1943, together with other Nazis, Kaindl decided to resort to a more "humane" way of killing people. That is how he described in court the construction of gas chambers and prussic acid poisoning. According to estimates of the commander, during his time in the concentration camp they killed 18 000 prisoners in the territory of the camp and 42 000 in total, counting murders outside the barbed wire. In addition, conditions of appalling brutality and hunger sapped more than 8 000 prisoners.
Head of the State Secret Police Heinrich Müller, anticipating that the scale of the tragedy that occurred in the camp would soon become known around the world, has decided to throw a veil over the crimes committed. He gave an order to Anton Kaindl to destroy Sachsenhausen with artillery fire, aerial bombardment or gas distribution. The Nazis did not want to endanger themselves, so they began to kill the prisoners one by one, and within one month they took lives of 5 000 people.
In April 1945, Kaindl decided to take the prisoners from the concentration camp, and more than 30 thousand people were forced to go towards the Baltic Sea. There, as the Nazis conceived, they should be drown. Apparently, not all the prisoners, exhausted by hard work, hunger and torture, were able to do this way – weakened ones were killed. Subsequently, the brutal action taken by the Nazis was called the “death march”
Tortures the prisoners gone through
Observers of Sachsenhausen camp were outstanding by various ways of torture, which they used in their concentration camps. In addition to the beatings, bullying that followed in response to the slightest fault, the Nazis practiced tortures for women giving birth. The latter became same level with guinea pigs, used to examine the effect of various new poisons. Prisoners got injections that caused typhus; they experimented by first burning their skin with a hot iron, and then studied what drugs help from burns. Moreover, as Sachsenhausen was the place where they invented new poisons, it was decided to test on prisoners gases that kill garden pests. The dose, which is able to kill insects, was set while watching when life goes out of the victim's body.
No less cruel was torture when the prisoners were forced to walk the whole day on the road, strewn with gravel and sharp stones, carrying a very heavy backpack - so the Nazis tested durability of shoes. In addition, the particularly objectionable prisoners were forced to eat potatoes peelings and drink boiling water.
Photographic documentation of the camp, which was accompanied by mocking captions like "typical Jewish wheeler-dealer", "common criminal", "women who cohabited with the subject of racial inferiority." The last entry, apparently, belonged to the perpetrators of the two laws on the purity of the Aryan race. This is the Law of the citizen of the Reich and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, under which there were banned not only marriages between "Jews and the state subjects of German or kindred blood", but any sexual relationship between them.
With support of Jewish Fund in Ukraine and personally Arkadii Monastyrskii, the journalists of OUTLOOK visited that place imbued with history. Observation of burnt land, penetrated by nails of barbed wire, and weaves of web of electricity network, was a harsh experience. The same difficult is to look at the pits, that preserve the memory of the anguish of prisoners who were taken away to be shot. We would like to forget the stories told by guides and views of that place, but it is impossible. This is a history that shall not be abandoned, facts that shall not be swept under the rug, at least for such a tragedy never happen in the future.