Every day we pass by this abandoned house as we’re heading for the memorial. A long one-floor brick building with broken windows and walls all covered with colorful graffiti. A former private house of the SS.
You can enter there and see broken furniture, flaky paint on the walls. Graffiti is everywhere and there is glass on the floor. It crunches under your feet as you go from one room to another. Take a walk down the long corridor absorbed into complete, black darkness if you can deal with unbearable anxiety raising inside of you with every minute spent here. As you reach the end of it, you’ll find yourself in a huge bathroom with erotic pictures on tiles glowing in the flashlight. I wonder if I have ever been in such a gloomy and creepy place.
How come this house of the SS (and a few others) stands like this here, in a five-minute walk from the memorial? If they were not included in the memorial itself, why couldn’t they have been demolished? Now they seem to attract only teenagers and probably some gangs. Even though these buildings did not belong to the concentration camp itself, they are still strongly connected with it, they are a part of its history full of terror and tragedy. Therefore I feel like what some people did to those buildings reflects their indifference to what was happening just a few meters further. And now I can’t help but keep asking myself: what would have become of all the barracks, towers, walls, the gate of KZ if there were no memorial there?..
SS officers used to live in vicinity of Sachsenhausen concentration camp during times of Second World War. When it ended, they either were killed or had evacuated abroad. Their houses are still standing. They are located beyond Sachsenhausen memorial’s gates. Only few hundred meters away, but far enough to be token into parenthesis of history, left behind discourse and eventually forgotten. Some of them are totally abandoned, some are dwelled with other families. Both options are weird… “Schade” i would say, if I were German.
About abandoned SS houses.
The former SS living houses are located on our way from hostel to memorial Sachsenhausen. Among other smaller buildings there are four blocks standing. Three of them are out of use since times of concentration camp. They stand in a row one after another, in a shadow of overgrown trees, empty and abandoned. The fourth is a second-hand shop now. All of the houses are alienated from other, more lively parts of Oranienburg. City services sometimes visit this place for reasons, they only know. It’s pretty easy to enter those houses . The construction is in a good state, some of the exterior walls flake away step by step, but it’s not much of a chance of collapse in next decades. Nevertheless, it’s too creepy to explore them on your own, knowing the context and events taking place here seventy years ago.
An entrance to one of abandoned houses.
The fasade of SS house, which is a second-hand shop nowadays.
About dwelled SS houses
Along the Bernauer strasse, closer to Sachsenhausen Memorial there are small, one-family houses with triangle roofs. Those used to be homes for SS officers seventy years ago. Another families live there now. People keep them well, modernized and perfect for living. There is not a shadow of memory. Of course, who would like to live in house with such history? Well, as long as people are mostly not aware, it’s not a problem. With time passing, it becomes less and less questionable…
Dwelled house, which belonged to one of SS-officer.
By Marina Mashtaler
The kitchen was build in 1936.
It was used for cooking something to eat. Inside of building is basement for washing potatoes.
The cellar beneath the kitchen was apparently already being used for peeling potatos at the beginning of the war. In 1961 the GDR authorities converted it to house the camp museum.
I choose this picture because I want to understand and realize the daily lives of the prisoners.
I found the living condition in the concentration camp was very bad. People didn’t have enough food and were always in hunger.
I hope this kind of terrible things will never happen again.
While I was visiting the former camp, all I could think about was how humans were capable of doing such things. What is it like to wake up every day knowing that you are responsible for the suffering of so many other human beings? What is it like to go to bed every day knowing the number of humans that you´ve beaten that day? What must it mean to have a “good day at work” when your work is to turn humans in non-humans? All of those things were haunting my mind until I saw this. This is the wall of barrack number one of the Special Camp for German civilians and German prisoners of war who were arrested sometimes without trial by the Soviets after the World War II. On this wall – as on many others – we can find scratched dates, numbers that they used to count how many days passed since they arrived, but most of all we can find names. So in that moment it was not about how a human can do something like that to other humans anymore but instead about how a human can endure all of that. How can a human resist? How can human remain a human? How can a human survive? So for me, this was the hardest moment, but also the most important one, because I realized that there is no difference between me and them. They had a name, a family, a history and a life just like I do. That was the moment when I realized that they won´t really be dead as long as we remember them and honor them as the humans that they were.
The picture was taken from Sachsenhausen Memorial.
The building has existed from 1936.
The tower was used to secure the northern part of the camp area and keep watch on the outer areas.
I think that the tower didn’t change over the last 70 years . it has just been added cameras and an exhibition about the connection between the camp an the city.
I liked the architecture and appearance of the building and that is the reason why I chose this building
I can not imagine the feelings of soldiers when they watched prisoners from tower. I felt that prisoners felt so much pressure because soldiers were watching them all the time .
I hope this history will never happen again!
We took that photo because it is the door where all started. Everything happened inside but this door could have saved a lot of lives if it has been opened. This door was the barrier between humanity and inhumanity. Nowadays everyday a lot of people cross this door, some of them are not conscious of what it means. Others just take a picture. But in fact this door knows by heart all that happened in the concentration camp, all the stories, all the murders, all the horror, all the lives that were saved but they were not the same anymore.
They are two girls from Chile who are spending their summer holidays in Berlin. They arrived two days ago so they hadn´t gone anywhere yet and this was their first visit. They do not know anything about concentration camps; they just went there because for them it was a touristic attraction. We asked them about the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp and they had no idea. We also asked them if they know something about this concentration camp and they answered that they were visiting it just because it was near to Berlin. Their motivation for going there was that concentration camps are famous around the world and they wanted to visit one but just in a touristic way.
They are a heterosexual couple from Indiana, USA spending their honey moon here in Germany. They decided to visit Sachsenhausen because the grandfather of the woman had been in a concentration camp but he had never remembered in which one he was. She also was really interested in history, she is a teacher but she did not know the difference between a concentration camp and an extermination camp. When we asked them how were they feeling they answered that they did not how to explain but it was so impressive and emotional. They were really interested in German history and they looked downhearted, they did not want to talk so much about it.
They are a father and his daughter of eleven years old. They are from Italy and they were there because she was really into history and she really wanted to go to a concentration camp. The father was really interested in the Second World War and he knew a lot of facts about Sachsenhausen camp. The girl was so excited and she did not speak English so we could not talk a lot with her but the parent said that being there was hard feeling because it reminded him all the things that the human being can do. He also said it was an interesting place for young people for make them aware of the political situations and give them another point of view.
To sum up, the interviewed people were so different. In one hand, the motivations for visiting the camp were different because their background were so different but we are not justifying that it has to be visited as a touristic place, we believe that if you go Sachsenhausen is in order to learn about and to understand what happened and why the world rounds like this, but on the other side we believe if someone goes to Sachsenhausen its because they Have a kind of attraction and if they are not Aware now maybe someday they will.
I decided to take the picture in the Finanzamt Gebäude, because it’s a very important place where the SS used to resided and if you take a look in to the structure of the building, you will be able to appreciate the stairs, especially the design of the rails, the old one used to have a swastika on it and it’s so interesting how a part of it has been taken away to optimize the resources instead of changing the whole design, but if you look at the rails, you can make out where the swastika was.