History

The dark tales of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp – Part II

<< Continued from ‘The dark tales of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp – Part I’

Sachsenhausen in spring 1945

Sachsensenhausen in present day

The unique design of the Sachsenhausen camp efficiently imprison prisoners and keep watch of them constantly. Shaped as an equilateral triangle with barracks arranged in a fan-like manner outwards from the semicircular roll call area, the camp ensured that the SS could observe the prisoners constantly from Tower A. Tower A, at the base of the triangle, was the symbol of terror for the prisoners. With its gun machine at the top of the tower, the SS were supposedly able to keep watch of and gun down anyone in the camp grounds.

The SS murdered the prisoners in Sachsenhausen with various methods. From the 1940s, the SS implemented the policy of ‘annihilation through work’. Prisoners had to work in the Klinkerwerk brickworks. Skilled prisoners did counterfeit work, and were treated less harshly than others. Prisoners at the bottom of the ‘food-chain’ such as the Jews and the homosexuals suffered the most. They suffered daily humiliation and intolerable human experiments such as testing ill-fitting military boots on sharp gravel, sand and rocks that permanently deformed their feet.

Towards the end of the Nazi rule, the SS constructed Station Z, which was the extermination site in Sachsenhausen. The aptly named extermination site indicated the end of the lives of the prisoners in the camp. There was a room with a small slit in the middle of the measuring scale, which allowed the SS to shoot unsuspecting prisoners going through their routine medical check-up. There was even a small gas chamber installed in the bathroom. Corpses with golden tooth implants had their teeth removed before being incinerated in one of the four crematorium.

>> To be continued in Part III – Final

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