If you’re planning a trip to Berlin and have an interest in history, a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp should be high on your list. Located just outside Berlin, Sachsenhausen offers a powerful and sobering experience that allows visitors to learn about the atrocities committed during World War II. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the essentials of planning a Sachsenhausen tour from Berlin, providing you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit.
Getting to Sachsenhausen from Berlin
Sachsenhausen is located approximately 35 kilometers north of Berlin and can be easily reached by various means of transportation. Here are some options to consider:
The most convenient way to get to Sachsenhausen is by taking a regional train from Berlin. Trains depart regularly from Berlin’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof) and the journey takes about 45 minutes. Once you arrive in Oranienburg, the town closest to the camp, it’s just a short bus ride or a 20-minute walk to the memorial site.
2. Guided Tours
If you prefer a hassle-free experience, joining a guided tour is a great option. Many tour operators in Berlin offer day trips to Sachsenhausen, providing transportation, a knowledgeable guide, and sometimes additional visits to related sites. This option allows you to learn from a professional guide while not having to worry about logistics.
Once you arrive at the memorial site, it’s important to plan your visit in a way that allows you to fully comprehend the historical significance of Sachsenhausen. Here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of your time:
1. Visitor Center and Exhibition
Start your visit at the visitor center, where you can gather information, watch a brief introductory film, and familiarize yourself with the layout of the camp. The exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of the camp’s history, the prisoners’ living conditions, and the atrocities committed. Take your time to absorb the information and prepare yourself emotionally for the rest of the site.
2. Main Camp Area
From the visitor center, head to the main camp area where you’ll find various buildings and structures that still stand today. Explore the barracks, the infirmary, and the kitchen to get a sense of the daily life inside the camp. Read the informative plaques and signs to learn about the different areas and their functions.
3. Tower and Appellplatz
Make your way to the watchtower and the Appellplatz, the roll-call square where prisoners were assembled. Stand in the same spot where thousands of people endured daily roll calls, often lasting hours, regardless of the weather conditions. From this vantage point, you can also see the extensive layout of the camp and visualize its immense scale.
4. Memorial Hall and Crematorium
The memorial hall, located near the camp entrance, houses an exhibition showcasing personal stories of prisoners and documenting the horrors they faced. Next to the memorial hall, you’ll find the crematorium, a chilling reminder of the camp’s darkest purpose. Take a moment of reflection and pay your respects to the victims.
Visiting Sachsenhausen requires sensitivity and respect due to the site’s historical significance. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. Comfortable Clothing
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking around the memorial site. Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions and bring an umbrella or a raincoat if necessary.
2. Emotionally Challenging Experience
Be prepared for an emotionally challenging experience. Sachsenhausen holds a dark history, and confronting the atrocities committed there can be overwhelming. Take breaks when needed, and don’t feel ashamed to express your emotions.
3. Photography and Noise
Respect the solemnity of the site by refraining from taking loud photos or making excessive noise. Keep in mind that Sachsenhausen is not a traditional tourist attraction but a place of remembrance and reflection.
A visit to Sachsenhausen from Berlin offers a unique opportunity to delve into the past and gain a deeper understanding of the atrocities committed during World War II. By planning your visit carefully, showing respect, and taking the time to absorb the history, you can ensure a meaningful and educational experience. Remember, Sachsenhausen serves as a reminder of the past so that we can strive for a better future.