Showing posts with label Ravensbrück. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ravensbrück. Show all posts

More Nazi Sites Outside Central Berlin

 The Wannsee Conference was convened on 20 January 1942 by the second-highest ranking ϟϟ leader Reinhard Heydrich in a luxurious villa taken over by the ϟϟ in the wealthy Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Its purpose was to announce the launching of the “final solution” of the Jewish question in Europe to leading government and party bureaucrats and to secure their cooperation in this project. Historians have not been able to determine with absolute certainty just when Hitler made the decision for systematic genocide. On 31 July 1941, six weeks after the ϟϟ Einsatzgruppen began murdering Soviet Jews in coordination with “Operation Barbarossa,” Heydrich was delegated the task of drawing up plans for “a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe”. It seems almost certain that he was given the green light to implement these plans by October 1941, when Jewish emigration was prohibited throughout Europe and preparations for the deportation of German Jews were put into place. Euthanasia “experts” had already been transferred to occupied Poland to set up the facilities for mass killings by poison gas. The ruthless racial and ideological war against the Soviet Union provided the conditions under which a systematic extermination program could be launched without generating wide publicity.
The Conference had originally been called for December 8, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the launching of the Soviet offensive against the German siege of Moscow forced a postponement. The minutes do not openly describe the killing programme, but none of the high-ranking participants from the various government ministries could have been in any doubt what Heydrich meant when he said that the remnant of Jews who survived forced labour would have to be “appropriately dealt with.” Adolf Eichmann, the specialist on the “Jewish question” in the Reich Security Main Office run by Heydrich, provided the population statistics, which overstated the number of Jews in Europe by some two million. Much of the conference was taken up by the question of whether Jews of mixed ancestry (Mischlinge) and Jews in mixed marriages were to be included in the “final solution.” The ϟϟ was forced by considerations of public morale to respect these distinctions in Germany itself. In the occupied areas, however, the Nazis made no exceptions for part-Jews or Jews in mixed marriages.

Site of the Wannsee Conference, a meeting of senior Nazi officials of the Nazi German regime, held on 20 January 1942 to inform senior Nazis and senior Governmental administrators of plans for the "Final solution to the Jewish question."
In the rear, alongside the lake in 1922 and standing in front now
Of the fourteen participants invited and sat around this table discussing the logistics of mass murder, eight held doctorates or comparable university degrees.
A tour of the house, left, and scene from the BBC / HBO television film Conspiracy which dramatises the 1942 Wannsee Conference which features Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, and Colin Firth as Wilhelm Stuckart.
The start of the 1984 German television production Die Wannseekonferenz which presents the conference in real time. Directed by Heinz Schirk with a disturbing performance of charm and calculation by Dietrich Mattausch as Heydrich, the film is based on records and minutes kept of the conference, spoken by unnervingly convincing actors in carefully reconstructed surroundings and wearing meticulously authentic uniforms. Wannseekonferenz appears the better movie with Conspiracy coming across as a flashy imitation, although watching both films is instructive. Both have the same people attending the conference, but how each attendee is portrayed at the conference is strikingly different. Most of the attendees in Conspiracy (except for Dr. Klopfer) are viewed as flawed intellectuals, but full of grace, charm and manners (which makes a nice stark comparison with what they are discussing). Almost all of the attendees in Die Wannseekonferenz (except for the female secretary) are shown as crude, corrupt pigs that differ with each other only as to how to divide their 'power'. It would be interesting to research the 'real' Major Lange. The crude drunken Major Lange of Die Wannseekonferenz seems more likely to be butchering the Jews of Riga than the soft spoken, charming, well-mannered Major Lange of Conspiracy.

Schloss Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only royal residency in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged but has since been reconstructed with Andreas Schlüter’s epic Reiterdenkmal des Grossen Kurfürsten (1699), which shows the Great Elector on horseback, also returned to the front courtyard. 
The Schlossbruecke across the Spree in Charlottenburg, where the Soviet Second Guards Tank Army forced its way, despite the damage, on April 29, 1945.

A reichsadler at the post office on Hindenburgdamm

Lichterfelde Barracks

Göring’s old military academy at Lichterfelde would be the main execution site of those SA killed during the so-called 'Night of the Long Knives' in 1934. As Bullock relates in Hitler: A Study in Tyranny
Goring, who had been made a general by Hindenburg to his great delight at the end of August 1933, once in power gravitated naturally towards the side of privilege and authority, and was on the worst of terms with the Chief of Staff of the S.A. He began to collect a powerful police force 'for special service', which he kept ready under his own hand at the Lichterfelde Cadet School near Berlin (290).
In Berlin the executions, directed by Goring and Himmler, began on the night of 29-30 June and continued throughout the Saturday and Sunday. The chief place of execution was the Lichterfelde Cadet School, and once again the principal victims were the leaders of the S.A. (303)
Hitler in 1935 and the site today. On December 17 of that year, Hitler toured the barracks and spent several hours there. In the afternoon, he made a speech to “his loyal soldiers of the Movement.” The Völkischer Beobachter reported as follows:
There was nothing more splendid than an elite such as that which the Leibstandarte represented. The Führer underlined in particular the SS men’s task of recruiting for the Party. To great applause, he stressed that “no one would bend or sway us; he would have to break us, and then he would see whether he himself might not be broken first.”
At the close of his speech, Hitler emphasised that nothing was more splendid than knowing that the wonderful regiment of the Leibstandarte bore his name.

A view from the redesigned Finckensteinallee entrance. Two monumental figures guarded the entrance, the so-called Reichsrottenführer. In the centre is when the Americans used the base and as it appears today.
Both entrances to the indoor swimming pool are still flanked today with two, four metre- high granite figures symbolising the "German man" and the "German woman" designed by Professor Hass.
Schubertstraße in Lichterfelde, hit by the RAF on the night of January 28/29 1945, after the war and today
Another then-and-now comparison: Gossowstraße

Tempelhof aeroport
Left: Hitler and Goering at Flughafen Tempelhof in 1932.
Right: Hess, Hitler and Goering on Tempelhof Field, May Day from the Nazi book Life of a Leader. It was on this occasion that hundreds of thousands had gathered at the Tempelhofer Feld. Goebbels estimated the crowd at one and a half million; the Eher Verlag cited the figure as two million. At 20.00, Hitler delivered a major speech there, expounding once again his old theory that the political and social misery of the German Volk was due solely to its lack of unity. His speech climaxed in the words:
German Volk, you are strong when you are one. German Volk, you are not second-class, even if the world wants you to be a thousand times over. German Volk, forget fourteen years of disintegration and rise up to two thousand years of German history!

A decapitated reichsadler in front of the aeroport with how it originally appeared on the roof with victorious Red Army soldiers, May 1945
The Nazi eagle, shorn of its swastika, still remains

The swastikas return to allow Tom Cruise to make his move Valkyrie
After the Nazis took power, Albert Speer was tasked with planning the reconstruction of Berlin. Among the first projects the Nazis undertook was the renovation of Berlin's Tempelhof International Airport, which began in 1934. Tempelhof was dramatically redesigned as the gateway to Europe, and became the forerunner of today's modern airports. Indeed, the airport halls and the neighbouring buildings are still known as the largest built entities worldwide, and Tempelhof has been described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as "the mother of all airports". The building complex was designed to resemble an eagle in flight with semicircular hangars forming the bird's spread wings. A mile long hangar roof was to have been laid in tiers to form a stadium for spectators at air and ground demonstrations. However, although under construction for more than ten years, it was never finished because of World War II.

The Nazi enlargement of Berlin's Tempelhof aeroport grandiosely demonstrated their aims at enlarging Germany's influence in Europe. The airport's eagle design clearly conveys that "the Eagle of Germany" would again take to the skies, to fly higher than ever before. Coupled with other Nazi architectural accomplishments, like the 1936 Olympic Stadium, and Nuremberg Zeppelin Tribune, were assuredly profound propaganda victories for the Nazi regime.

On 21 March 1933, the first day of spring, the new Hitler government staged an elaborate ceremony in Potsdam, the traditional residence of the Prussian kings. The ceremony was intended to symbolise the continuity between Prusso-German monarchism and the new Nazi-led regime. In the venerable Garrison Church, in front of the vault of Frederick the Great and the throne traditionally occupied by the kaiser, President Hindenburg called on the new government to overcome the selfishness and partisan divisions of the Weimar era and to lead the national renewal for a unified, free, and proud Germany. Hitler, in turn, extolled Hindenburg as the patron of the German “awakening” and as the symbol of the indestructible vitality of the German nation.
Significantly, one of Goebbels’ first staged events as Propaganda Minister was the opening of the new Reichstag with an elaborate ceremony known as the ‘Day of Potsdam’ on 21 March 1933. The ceremony was held in the Garrison Church at Potsdam, the shrine of the old Prussian monarchy. President Hindenburg resplendent in the full military regalia of Prussian field-marshal raised his baton to the empty throne of the exiled Kaiser. Hitler, in top hat and morning coat, bowed deferentially before him. The propaganda message was clear. The Nazis were restoring the old imperial glories lost in 1918 by forging a link between the past and the present – between the conservatism of the Prussian tradition and the razzmatazz of National Socialist ritual propaganda. In a symbolic piece of theatrical staging, Hindenburg took the salute for the final parade (which lasted for several hours) while Hitler stood modestly with his ministers some rows behind the old man 
Welch (21) The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda
Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen on their way to the garrison church on the 'Day of Potsdam,' left.
Built under the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I between 1730 and 1735, the Garrison Church burned down on April 14 1945 and its ruins finally demolished on June 23 1968 under Walter Ulbricht. A reconstruction society aims to rebuild the Garrison Church by 2017, financed with donations.  
The wartime conferences had calmly discussed the Germans’ fate, but at the Potsdam Conference the Allies finally realised that ‘Uncle Joe’ had stolen a march on them. He would call the shots. The Allies met from 17 July to 2 August 1945 at the palace of Crown Prince ‘Little Willi’, the Cecilienhof in Potsdam. The Western Allies were able to see their handiwork for the first time. In a fifteen-minute raid on 14 April they had flattened the centre of Frederick the Great’s Residenz. The town centre had lost ‘everything that was historic, a memorial or artistically important’, according to Hanna Grisebach. There were consolations: ‘The voices that we have had to listen to for over twelve years have been silenced.’
Giles MacDonogh (471) After the Reich
At the main entrance of the Cecilienhof Palace, where the Potsdam "Big Three" meetings were held. On the left, the Flags of the USSR, United States and the United Kingdom are flying over the entranceway as Soviet officers serve as guards. Photographed during the conference, the last of the major Allied conferences of World War II showing the great red star of geraniums, pink roses and hortensias in the flower bed at the entrance the Soviets had planted. Held from July 17 to August 2, 1945, in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam, its principal participants were President Harry S. Truman, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, and (at the beginning of the conference) British prime minister Winston Churchill, whose place was later taken by Clement Attlee, when he replaced Churchill as prime minister. Beginning with the Tehran Conference in 1943, the main allies of the anti-Hitler coalition of the Second World War had already met several times at various levels in order to reach an agreement on the course for the time after the victory over the nationalsocialist Germany . Previously, in the 1943 Conference of Casablanca the demand for an unconditional surrender was raised. At the Yalta conference in February 1945, a division into occupation zones as well as a coordinated administration and control by a Central Control Commission was adopted.  After the military collapse of the Germany on the occasion of the entry into force of the unconditional surrender of the German forces on May 8, 1945 and the arrest of the managing Reichsregierung under Karl Doenitz and Lutz von Krosigk on 23 May, Berlin Declaration and the establishment of the occupation zones as well as the establishment of an Allied Control Council officially assumed the power of government in Germany . A conference in June, as proposed by Winston Churchill , was delayed by Joseph Stalin . This was done within the framework of Soviet endeavours to make the West Powers complete fait accompli with regard to the German eastern frontier.  Original plans foreseen Berlin as a meeting place, but because of the serious war damage, the meetings were transferred to the intact Potsdam palace Cecilienhof.
 During my 2017 school trip to the site of the conference.
The major subjects of the conference were the European peace settlements; the urgently pressing issue of administering a defeated and substantially destroyed Germany; the determination of Polish boundaries; the terms of the occupation of Austria; the Soviet role in Eastern Europe; reparations; and, not least, the continued prosecution of the war against Japan.
The conference produced the Potsdam Declaration. With regard to Germany, the declaration asserted the Allies’ intention to give the “German people . . . the opportunity to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis.” Four zones of occupation were demarcated in Germany, each to be administered by military governments under the commanders in chief of the U.S., British, Soviet, and French armies of occupation. Austria was also divided into four zones of occupation, as were the capital cities of Berlin and Vienna. Coordination among the occupation zones was to be handled by an Allied Control Council. The conference agreed that occupation policy would embody the principles stated in the Yalta Agreement, including demilitarization, denazification, democratisation, decentralization, and deindustrialisation. 

Regarding the issue of reparations, each Allied power was to recover reparations from its own zone of occupation, with the proviso that the Soviet Union was entitled to recover 10 to 15 percent of the industrial equipment in the western zones of Germany in exchange for agricultural produce and other natural products from its zone.
With regard to the settlement of the Polish border, this was fixed at the Oder and Neisse Rivers in the west, and the country absorbed a portion of what had been East Prussia. This settlement required relocating millions of Germans from these areas.
The settlement of the Soviet role in Eastern Europe was highly contentious, as Stalin refused to permit Western intervention in those Eastern governments already controlled by communists.
At Potsdam President Truman revealed to Stalin the existence of the atomic bomb and that he intended to use it against Japan. Stalin hardly reacted to this revelation—because (as it turned out) his espionage network had already informed him of the existence of the bomb. However, because of the weapon, the conferees were emboldened to issue an ultimatum to Japan on July 26 demanding unconditional surrender. After Japan rejected the ultimatum the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The conference room then and now
There remained a great deal of unfinished business. The future of Germany, discussed at Yalta, was not decided by the documents of surrender. The settlement in Eastern Europe was not resolved. The war with Japan was not yet over. The three wartime allies agreed to meet for a conference in which they could explore the many political issues left over from the defeat of the Axis powers. The date agreed upon was July 15. Stalin persuaded his allies to add to the symbolism of surrender by meeting in Berlin. The site chosen was Potsdam, home of Prussian militarism. Zhukov was once again asked to find a suitable venue. He chose the Cecilienhof, a former palace of the Prussian royal family. Other villas were requisitioned for the thousands of officials who followed in train behind their heads of state. Zhukov organized the refurbishment of thirty‐six rooms and an assembly hall in the palace. By request Truman’s headquarters were painted blue; Churchill asked for pink; the Soviet delegation chose a stark white. No circular conference table large enough and in one piece could be found in Berlin, so the Lux furniture factory in Moscow was asked to build one in time for the conference.
Overy, Russia's War

Inside the room assigned to Truman and his staff still partly furnished with items from the nearby Marmorpalais such as the finely carved writing desk. On the right is his private dining room set inside the room.
Finally, on 24 July, two monumental moments symbolized the imminent end of the Grand Alliance. First Churchill attacked Stalin for closing off Eastern Europe, citing the problems of the British mission in Bucharest: “An iron fence has come down around them,” he said, trying out the phrase that would become “the iron curtain.” “Fairy tales!” snapped Stalin. The meeting ended at 7:30 p.m. Stalin headed out of the room but Truman seemed to hurry after him. Interpreter Pavlov deftly appeared beside Stalin. Churchill, who had discussed this moment with the President, watched in fascination as Truman approached the Generalissimo “as if by chance,” in Stalin’s words. “The U.S.A.,” said Truman, “tested a new bomb of extraordinary destructive power.” Pavlov watched Stalin closely: “no muscle moved in his face.” He simply said he was glad to hear it: “A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the Japanese! What a bit of luck!” Stalin followed the plan he had agreed with Beria to give the Americans no satisfaction but he still thought the Americans were playing games: “An A‑bomb is a completely new weapon and Truman didn’t exactly say that.” He noticed Churchill’s glee too: Truman spoke “not without Churchill’s knowledge.”
Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

The schloß library, assigned to none other than Churchill himself (later to be occupied by Attlee) as his personal office. This was the only room for the British on the ground floor. Theoretically, the most natural way for Churchill to have made his way down to the actual conference room from the British delegation's offices upstairs was via the grand wooden stairs that lead down from the first floor to the conference hall. However, the Soviets childishly insisted that he had to make his way in a very roundabout way in order to use a side entrance since they and the American delegations occupied rooms on the ground floor and thus had to enter through side doors, leaving Churchill to have appeared privileged had he been the only one to make his entry to the Conference via the grand stairs. The different quarters were to be colour-coded: blue for the Americans, white for the Russians and pink for the British.
Churchill arriving.
Churchill, puffing at a cigar, approached Stalin who was himself smoking a Churchillian cigar. If anyone were to photograph the Generalissimo with a cigar, it would “create an immense sensation,” Churchill beamed, “everyone will say it is my influence.” Actually British influence was greatly diminished in the new world order of the superpowers in which they could agree on the de‑Nazification of Germany but not on reparations or Poland. Now Hitler was gone, the differences were mountainous. When Stalin decided he wanted a stroll in the gardens after a session, a British delegate was amazed to see “a platoon of Russian tommy‑gunners in skirmishing order, then a number of guards and units of the NKVD army. Finally appeared Uncle Joe on foot with his usual thugs surrounding him, followed by another screen of skirmishers. The enormous officer who always sits behind Uncle at meetings was apparently in charge of operations and was running around directing tommy‑gunners to cover all the alleys.” After a few hundred yards, Stalin was picked up by his car.
Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
Beside a reproduction of the Potsdam Map at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin, created by the globemakers Greaves and Thomas.
Illustrated here is our copy of the Potsdam Map, the original is now displayed in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall. We worked with the Machine Shop in order to make this facsimile for display in a museum in Germany. Clearly the acetate had shrunk by the time the allies used it as reference because they then had to draw their proposed divisions across not only the acetate but also on the map itself where the shrinking acetate had exposed the map.
 It is interesting to note that the outside case has its weight recorded of 18lbs clearly a necessity for the flight to Potsdam. Also the case is adapted, the internal rexine material has been cut away to enable the 1944 National Geographic map to be displayed, clearly a case of having to make do with limited resources. 
 The chain which encircles one of the handles, is cold riveted to itself , is padlock secured to the end of it is for securing the chain to another chain, not for keeping the folio shut but possibly for securing to the folio to the person assigned to carry it.
 Potsdam had not been spared in the bombing.
In a massive air raid that night, Allied bombers attacked Potsdam. A Hitler Youth sheltering in a basement that night found the walls around him `rocking like a ship'. The bombs destroyed much of the old town, including the Garnisonkirche, the spiritual home of the Prussian military caste and aristocracy. Ursula von Kardorff burst into tears in the street after hearing the news. `A whole world was destroyed with it,' she wrote in her diary.
Beevor (204-5) Berlin 1945

The Lustgarten then and now, showing the Marstall, St. Nicholas Church and Stadtschloss

Nicholas Church before the war and today and showing how damage it was in 1945. In the air attack on Potsdam on the evening of April 14, 1945, British planes dropped explosive and fire bombs over the city, leaving a large part of the old town lay in ruins. Nevertheless, at that point the church remained untouched to minor damage. It was only in the last April that it was ruined by Soviet artillery fights during the Potsdam battles. The dome collapsed and the entrance at the Alter Markt collapsed. Only the altar and pulpit remained undamaged. On April 30, 1945, the Red Army occupied Potsdam.

Looking towards the Alten Markt from Schlossstraße
The Altes Rathaus
During the anniversary celebrations of the Revolution of 1848 on March 21, 1933 which provided the occasion for the ceremonial handshake between President Paul von Hindenburg and the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Potsdam's Garrison Church in what became known as the "Day of Potsdam". This symbolised a coalition of the military (Reichswehr) and Nazism.
The Stadtschloss is being reconstructed with as much of the original material as possible. When completed, it is intended to become the Parliament House for the Federal State of Brandenburg.
One part of the schloss currently under reconstruction is the fountain "The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite Stilling the Waves", shown here in the 1930s and today.

Sans Souci
With the hakenkreuz flying above and today.
The entrance then and now

The schloss flying a Nazi flag from its tower and today, considerably altered. In the Soviet memorial cemetery next to the Wilmersdorfer Waldfriedhof Güterfelde on Potsdamer Strasse nearby is the burial place for an extremely high number of prisoners of war, forced labourers and concentration camp prisoners . An obelisk commemorates 1389 Soviet citizens, 101 Poles , four Yugoslavs , two Italians and a Czech . In the forest cemetery itself is a memorial to 383 Polish and 720 German prisoners in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp who died in 1942.
Fort Hahneberg
Fort Hahneberg was completed in 1886 and put to use two years later as one of four forts to defend Berlin on the west side. It ended up being the only one built. The Reichsadler above the entry remains when it was used during the Third Reich. The website for the site is:
Fort Hahneberg was used as the hideout forest for the Inglorious Basterds. As an aside, the title of the movie has to have the swastika removed because the display of Nazi iconography is illegal in Germany. The "Offizielle deutsche Website" has been censored too. Under the German law there ARE exceptions which allow the use of "unconstitutional symbols" for artistic and educational purposes but Universal Pictures obviously didn't find it worth the effort.

During the Nazi era, Niederschöneweide developed quickly into an important location for the armaments production thanks to its metal and chemical industry. A new building was built for Hasselwerderstraße in the Hasselwerderstraße, where, among other things, the departments of inheritance and race care, infant care, Schularzt and Schulzahnklinik were housed. At the end of the Sedanstraße (today: Bruno-Bürgel-Weg), a building was built for the SA-Stand 5 "Horst Wessel", which at the same time served as an HJ-Heim for Niederschöneweide. In 1933, the crossing area in front of Schöneweide train station was redesigned and the main road system was expanded. Because of the intensified consignments from 1941 personnel shortages in the factories arose. In order to maintain production, more and more forced laborers were employed. In 1943 Albert Speer erected a barrack camp for more than 2,000 forced labourers between the Britzer, Sedan and Grimaustrae. The barrack camp is now under monument protection. A partial area of ​​this was made available to the public in the summer of 2006 as a documentation centre for Nazi forced labour under the sponsor "Topography of Terror". On April 16 945 the last great battle of the Second World War in Europe began around Berlin. On April 24, Niederschöneweide was in the hands of the 8th Garde Army of the First Belarusian Front. Earlier, German rear groups had blown the Kaisersteg and the Treskow Bridge.
The last well-preserved former Nazi forced labour camp is located in Schöneweide, located at Britzer Straße 5, Berlin-Schöneweide. In the Second World War it served as one of the more than 3,000 mass housing sites dispersed throughout the city for forced labourers. The camp was ordered to be built for 2,000 workers by the “General Building Inspector for the Reich capital” (Generalbauinspektor für die Reichshauptstadt) in close proximity to large armament industries. It included 13 stone barracks for housing. Civil forced labourers and forced labourers of various nationalities, Italian military internees as well as female concentration camp prisoners lived here. A well-preserved residential barrack referred to as ”Barrack 13” has been open for tours since the end of August 2010. In 2000 a compensation program was set up to help out the 2.3 million surviving forced labourers, which is probably both too little and too late.

The camp was used between 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in 1945, and then used by Russians in the Soviet Occupation Zone as a NKVD camp until 1950. It now operates as a museum.  The camp was established in 1936. It was located 22 miles north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was located in Oranienburg, and Sachsenhausen became a training centre for Schutzstaffel (SS) officers (who would often be sent to oversee other camps afterwards). Originally planned to accommodate six thousand inmates, Sachsenhausen generally had a population of between ten and fifteen thousand, rising to about thirty-five thousand in the final months of the war. The blocks were arranged in a fanlike configuration in a semicircle around the Appellplatz, which had a radius of about a hundred meters. The camp as a whole therefore was similar to an isosceles triangle: at the base, the semicircle of the parade ground, then the blocks in four concentric rings, and at the apex the nursery and pigpen. Executions took place at Sachsenhausen, especially of Soviet prisoners of war. Among the prisoners, there was a "hierarchy": at the top, criminals (rapists, murderers), then Communists (red triangles), then homosexuals (pink triangles), Jehovah's Witnesses (purple triangles), and Jews (yellow triangles). During the earlier stages of the camp's existence the executions were done in a trench, either by shooting or by hanging. A large task force of prisoners was used from the camp to work in nearby brickworks to meet Albert Speer's vision of rebuilding Berlin. Sachsenhausen was originally not intended as an extermination camp—instead, the systematic murder was conducted in camps to the east. In 1942 large numbers of Jewish inmates were relocated to Auschwitz. However the construction of a gas chamber and ovens by camp-commandant Anton Kaindl in March 1943 facilitated the means to kill larger numbers of prisoners.

Main entrance. The Main gate or Guard Tower "A", with its 8mm Maxim machine gun, the type used by the Germans in the trenches of World War I, housed the offices of the camp administration. On the front entrance gates to Sachsenhausen is the infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei ("work makes (you) free"). About 200,000 people passed through Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. In Sachsenhausen,
some 6,500 were confined at the outbreak of the war. Shortly thereafter, in September 1939, 900 Polish and stateless Jews from the Berlin area were taken to the camp; at the beginning of November, 500 Poles were interned. At the end of that month, 1,200 Czech students were added, and approximately 17,000 persons, mainly Polish nationals, were admitted as in- mates in the period from March to September 1940. Despite the high number of new inmates, the camp population here too stabilized at the level of roughly 10,000 prisoners. That was because of the high mortality rate as well as the transfer of large numbers of Poles to Flossenbürg, Dachau, Neuengamme (in the Bergedorf section of southeastern Hamburg), and Groß-Rosen.
Sofsky (35)
Observation points then and now; since the torching of a barracks by neo-Nazis, security cameras have been installed throughout the site.

The mortuary and infirmary, showing the autopsy table.

The Russians, accompanied by Polish soldiers, chanced upon Sachsenhausen concentration camp as they moved to invest Berlin. The camp was in Oranienburg, and the fall of that former royal borough brought it home to Hitler that his days were numbered. There were just 5,000 prisoners left in Sachsenhausen of a population that had reached 50,000. The rest had been taken on 'death marches.’
(58) After the Reich - The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
More and more Berliners had been taking the risk of listening to the BBC on the wireless and even dared to discuss its news. But power cuts were now creating a more effective censorship of foreign broadcasts than the police state had ever achieved. London had little idea of the great Soviet offensive, but its announcement that Sachsenhausen- Oranienburg concentration camp had been liberated just north of Berlin gave a good idea of Red Army progress and its intention to encircle the city. The indication of the horrors found there was also another reminder of the vengeance which Berlin faced. This did not stop most Berliners from convincing themselves that the concentration camp stories must be enemy propaganda.

This communist memorial on the left remembers only political prisoners (hence the red triangles), and only those imprisoned by the Nazis as opposed to the Soviets who used the camp for an additional five years. A mass grave from that time was found in 1990. The prisoners on this memorial, far from appearing emaciated, are made to look superhuman in their resolve in a fascist stance the Nazis themselves would have approved of.

Stalin's son Yakov Dzhugashvili served as an artillery officer in the Red Army and was captured on 16 July 1941 in the early stages of the German invasion of USSR at the Battle of Smolensk. The Germans later offered to exchange Yakov for Friedrich Paulus, the German Field Marshal captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying "I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant". According to some sources, there was another proposition as well, that Hitler wanted to exchange Yakov for his nephew Leo Raubal; this proposition was not accepted either. Until recently, it was not clear when and how he died. According to the official German account, Dzhugashvili died by running into an electric fence in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was being held. Some have contended that Yakov committed suicide at the camp, whilst others have suggested that he was murdered. Currently, declassified files show that Dzhugashvili was shot by a guard for refusing to obey orders. Whilst Dzhugashvili was walking around the camp he was ordered back to the barracks under the threat of being shot. Dzhugashvili refused and shouted, "Shoot!" The guard shot him in the head.
Inside the ruins of the crematorium. The first crematorium at Sachsenhausen was built at Station Z in April 1940 and construction on the new crematorium began on January 31, 1942; it was completed and opened for use on May 29, 1942. It had two rooms where Russian POWs, who were Communist Commissars, were executed with a shot to the neck.
Station Z included a Genickschußanlage, a shooting pit, a gas chamber, and a multiple gallows with block and tackle. The structures had been kept low intentionally so as to block visibility and prevent anyone from looking in over the wall. The first provisional gas chambers in Birkenau were outside the camp, set up in former farmhouses. But the modern crematoria were built in close proximity to the camp. They were surrounded by barbed-wire fences and shielded from view by barriers of willow trees. Flower beds lent the facilities an innocuous air. The zones of death were disguised areas beyond the round of everyday camp routine. No one had access to them except the Sonderkommandos—the corpse carriers and oven stokers. The zone of death was taboo, a place of mystery where the power to kill could unfold unhindered.
 In 1953, the crematorium building was deliberately blown up by the East German government, and today nothing is left except the ruins of the ovens. When the former Sachsenhausen camp was made into a Memorial Site in 1961, the brick wall separating the Industrial Yard from the camp was moved so that Station Z could be located inside the memorial.


 Himmler visiting the camp and the same site today. The Ravensbrück concentration camp was the largest concentration camp for women in Germany, and second in size only to the women's camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the closure of the Lichtenburg camp in 1939, Ravensbrück was also the only main concentration camp, as opposed to subcamp, designated almost exclusively for women.  German authorities began construction of the camp in November 1938 as SS authorities transported about 500 male prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to the proposed site to construct the Ravensbrück camp. By the end of 1942, the female inmate population of Ravensbrück had reached about 10,000. In January 1945, the camp had more than 50,000 prisoners, mostly women, from over 30 countries including political prisoners, “asocials”, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, "criminals," "work-shy," and "race defilers." 
By January 1945 the barracks were horribly overcrowded. This overcrowding, aggravated by abominable sanitary conditions, resulted in a typhus epidemic that spread throughout the camp.  Periodically, the SS authorities subjected prisoners in the camp to "selections" in which the Germans isolated those prisoners considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first, "selected" prisoners were shot. In early 1945, the SS constructed a gas chamber in Ravensbrück near the camp crematorium, gassing between 5,000 and 6,000 prisoners before Soviet troops liberated the camp in April 1945.  Starting in the summer of 1942, SS medical doctors subjected prisoners at Ravensbrück to unethical medical experiments. SS doctors experimented with treating wounds with various chemical substances (such as sulfanilamide) to prevent infections. They also tested various methods of setting and transplanting bones; such experiments included amputations. The SS selected nearly 80 women, mostly Polish, for these experiments. Many of the women died as a result, the survivors often suffering permanent physical damage.

Bernau bei Berlin

Memorial to the victims of Fascism. The Bundesschule of the General German Trade Union Confederation (ADGB) was expropriated on May 2 1933 to a Reichsführerschule of the NSDAP and the DAF. The opening on July 16 1933 happened in the presence of Hitler. From 1936 to 1945, the security service school of the security police and SD was in the building.  From the summer of 1943 there was an outside camp in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, of which 300 prisoners were employed in a police station. A memorial in front of the station on a green area on the Breitscheidstrasse has reminded the victims of fascism since September 11, 1949. On the morning of April 20, 1945, Bernau was taken by the Red Army. The city was largely spared from destruction during the war.

Situated at the western border of Berlin in Brandenburg, during the Second World War the Demag-Panzerwerke subcamp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was located here. At its height, 2,500 people were imprisoned in the camp and used as slave labour. Schlageterstraße, named after the pre-Nazi nationalist martyr, then and now as Hansa-Straße.

Showing Eisenhardt Castle then and now, Bad Belzig is the capital of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district 43 miles southwest of Berlin. In 1934 ammunition works were established in Bad Belzig including a labour camp with about 1500 forced labourers. During the years 1936-1945, Burg Eisenhardt was the site of the Reichsschule (leadership school) for the Technischen Nothilfe ('technical emergency relief'). (The Technische Nothilfe was abolished in May, 1945, but the idea was revived by Otto Lummitzsch in the form of the Technisches Hilfswerk in 1950, which exists to this day as one of the pillars of the German civil protection infrastructure.) Between 1940 and 1945 a subcamp of the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück with about 750 inmates was also located nearby. Bad Belzig was also the site of a large radio transmitter station, erected in 1939.   

The cloisters were founded by Cistercian monks in 1273, and 500 of them laboured over six decades to erect what is widely considered to be among the finest red-brick Gothic structures in northern Germany. The monastery was secularised in 1542 and fell into disrepair after the Thirty Years’ War. Renovation has gone on in a somewhat haphazard fashion since the early 19th century. Here shown during the Nazi-era and today

Prenzlau Uckermark
The war memorial on Adolf Hitler Platz then and now 

1937 and today, with the B 109 now directing traffic past the Marienkirche and Mitteltorturm. During the Nazi era the town synagogue, erected in 1832, was desecrated and destroyed during the November pogrom in 1938, as did the two Jewish cemeteries at the Wasserturm in today's Stadtpark, whose crushed tombstones were used as street pavements. The New Jewish Cemetery at Puschkinstraße 60 was rebuilt after 1945. During the war Prenzlau suffered roughly 600 fatalities. At the end of April 1945 about 85% of Prenzlauer Stadtkerns was destroyed. Reconstruction began in 1952. Because of the scarcity of housing and the low economic power in the post-war years, mainly prefabricated buildings were erected, which however were popular with the population.

Adolf-Hitler-Strasse then and now (renamed the Großstraße), with the Heilig-Geist-Kapelle (now serving the Heimatmuseum) in the foreground leading to the rathaus. 

Adolf-Hitler-Haus and today, on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 
The church with the ehrenmal and today 

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow, shown flying numerous hakenkreuzen,  is the oldest working boat lift in Germany.

Wusterhausen an der Dosse 
 The rathaus on Adolf Hitler Platz (with swastika) and today

Brandenburg an der Havel
 Looking at the town from Adolf Hitler Brücke and today.
A concentration camp, one of the first in Germany, was located on Neuendorfer Straße in Brandenburg Old Town. After closing this inner city concentration camp, the Nazis used the Brandenburg-Görden Prison, located in Görden, a suburb of Brandenburg. Later the old gaol became the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre where the Nazis killed people with mental diseases, including children. They called this operation "Action T4" because of the Berlin address, Tiergartenstraße 4, the headquarters of this planned and well-organized killing "euthanasia" organisation. Brandenburg an der Havel was one of the very first locations in the Third Reich where the Nazis experimented with killing their victims by gas. Here, they prepared the mass killings in Auschwitz and other extermination camps. After complaints by local inhabitants about the smoke, the mobile furnaces used to burn the corpses ceased operation. Shortly after this, the Nazis closed the old prison. Bunker of the type designed by Leo Winkel in Kirchmöser  In 1934, the Arado Aircraft Company (Arado Flugzeugwerke), which originated in Warnemünde, began building a satellite factory in Brandenburg that began producing planes in 1935. The factory was expanded over the next five years, and during World War II produced trainers and other aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The existence of this factory was one of the reasons Brandenburg was heavily bombed in later stages of the war; by 1945 the city was 70 percent destroyed.  Friedrich Fromm, a German officer involved in the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler, was executed here in March 1945 for his part in the plot, even though Fromm betrayed those conspirators he knew and ordered their execution. 

The rathaus with and without Nazi flag. In the 1938 pogroms, Eberswalde's synagogue was destroyed. During World War II, several factories employed forced labourers and inmates of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. At the end of the war, the town centre was attacked by the German Luftwaffe, in an attempt to delay the Soviet advance.


Adolf-Hitler-Straße and today. During the war, 963 war prisoners and 2,755 men and women from the countries occupied by Germany had to carry out forced labour for Kjellberg Electrode und Maschinen GmbH, Reichelt Metall-Schrauben AG, and cloth factories. They were accommodated in several warehouses, including the Siemens warehouse. 392 deaths were registered with the forced labourers of the large enterprises.  Between 1945 and 1950 at least 685 persons were arrested in the Finsterwalde district by the secret police of the Soviet NKVD. About 250 people were killed in Soviet special camps or military gaols.

 Wittenberge in der Prignitz
Hotel Germania on Adolf Hitler Straße. From August 15, 1942 until February 17, 1945 a concentration camp was established here in Wittenberge which served as a subcamp to the Neuengamme concentration camp. Between the wars much architecture characteristic of the period was built in the form of workers' housing for the rapidly increased population. It suffered as most German towns did during the war. Only the railway workshops remain as significant employers of the old industries but the large, skilled workforce remains for the newer industries of precision engineering and applied chemistry. 

The Schloss from a Nazi-era postcard and today

The Haesler Siedlung (1928–31) featuring Otto Haesler's "trademark" three-sided glazed stair housing on what had been renamed Adolf-Hitler-Ring during the Nazi era. Haesler had been an influential German architect often grouped with Bruno Taut, Ernst May and Walter Gropius as being among the most significant representatives of the Modernist ("Neues Bauen") architecture that became important initially during the Weimar period, notably in respect of residential accommodation. Violently attacked by the regime, in 1934 Haesler went into a form of internal exile, closing down his office in Celle and relocating to Eutin, a small town in Schleswig-Holstein, some 80 miles from the Danish border. Here he continued to build houses, now using the traditional brick construction characteristic of the region, but still with structural elements of modern architecture.  In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, triggering a more general war across much of Europe. By this time Haesler had evidently returned to favour sufficiently to be appointed Deputy City Building Consultant for Lodz , controlled by Germany and increasingly populated by ethnic Germans between 1939 and 1945, and for Lemberg (under German control between 1941 and 1944). In 1943 Haesler was also part of a planning project for the reconstruction of Sebastopol which had recently been largely destroyed in fighting.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, it was revealed that the remains of Hitler and his assistants were secretly buried in graves near Rathenow. In Vinogradov's Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, there is reproduced a Soviet map showing that the bodies were buried in a field near the village of Neu Friedrichsdorf, approximately one kilometre east of Rathenow.


Swastikas adorning the marktturm. During the war there was a Stalag for prisoners of war (Stalag IIIa). There was also a work camp for civilians. The Nazis forced people to work for their war effort or else the families of people who worked there would perish. Lack of food and hard work killed thousands. Among them were Poles, Italians, French and many more. There were several places in the town and surrounding areas where they worked. Luckenwalde was taken by the Red Army on April 22, 1945. 

Frankfurt an der Oder
The Marienkirche with the Nazi flag and today. During the Nazi era the town's historic court gaol on Collegienstraße served as the Gestapo prison from 1933 to 1945. After Germany's defeat it was used by the NKVD and the MfS as an investigative detention centre; today it's a music and art school.
During the November pogroms of 1938, the interior of the synagogue built by the then large Jewish community was destroyed by the Nazis in 1822.
During the war the city was largely spared as there were hardly any important industrial or military installations. With the beginning of the Vistula-Oder operation of the Soviet forces, a large wave of refugees from the Germans began, which also moved to Frankfurt (Oder). The total number of refugees in transit amounted to 264,000 to 300,000 people. The city was declared a fortress on 26 January 1945. It was planned to prepare the city for all-round defense and to use it as cover for Berlin. The dam suburb (today Słubice) was to serve as a bridgehead. On the morning of the 16th of April, with the drum-fire of the Red Army, the large-scale offensive against Berlin began. On April 19 at 5:29 am the Oderbrücke was blown up by the Wehrmacht. Russian aviation attacks took place from 20 to 23 April. On the afternoon of the 21st of April, the fortress status was abolished, and a day later the retreat of the fortress troops began. On April 22 and 23, Soviet bomber raids flew. This led to numerous fires, especially in the centre of Frankfurt. On the morning of 23 April 1945 the first Soviet units reached Frankfurt. By the previous bombardment and incendiary bombings, which began in the following days, the inner city was destroyed to 93%. On the evening April 24, the tower of this church, in English the  Church of the Virgin Mary, burned and the vault of the church collapsed months later.

Grünewalde (Lauchhammer)  
The Adolf Hitler oak tree planted in front of the school.  

Perleberg in der Prignitz
The 5.50 metre-high statue of Roland in sandstone located on the northeast side of the market square in front of the former library shown with and without the Nazi flag. He is a knight with decorated plate armour, holding up a sword in his right hand and with his left hand holding a shield featuring the Brandenburg eagle. Roland is supported by a pillar at the back upon which the year 1546 is engraved.  In 1954 the statue was relocated due to the increasing traffic on the former F5 and hence shifted about 1.60 metres from the Town Hall.