Established: 12 July, 1936
Location: 35 km. North of Berlin
Also known as “Oranienburg – Sachsenhausen”, it was one of the largest concentration camps in northern Germany. Information gathered from documents obtained after the liberation show that at the date of 31 January, 1945 56,624 deportees of every nationality were present in that concentration camp. 204,537 men passed through that camp, judging by official records, with more than half of them dying of exhaustion, undernourishment, illness, but principally because they were assassinated by the SS. The Italians deportees having been identified number 421.
In the camp of Sachsenhausen the most modern, simplified and inexpensive methods of “liquidation of the human subspecies” (Untermenschen) were experimented, as dictated by Nazi regime. From September to November 1941, 18,000 Soviet prisoners of war were eliminated by a bullet in the head. A special installation was devised just for this purpose. In a barrack not far from the camp, where the prisoners were tricked into believing that they were about to undergo a normal measurement of their height, an SS killed each one with a shot of his pistol from behind a crack in the wall, corresponding to the precise point in which they were to place their heads. Later this system was substituted by the asphyxiation by the exhaust fumes of trucks that were designed for this purpose, but mostly by the mass executions on the border of common graves, that the same men who were about to die had been forced to excavate.
Adjacent to the concentration camp in a special camp, treated with a certain regard, ministers and dignitaries of the invaded countries were housed, while thousands of deportees were put at the service of the industries that were in the vicinity. The usual DEST (Deutsch Erd und Steinwerk), the DAW (Deutsch Ausrustungswerke) but also Heinkel, AEG, Siemens, Demag-Daimler-Benz and others used the forced labor furnished by the camp.
In 1942 DEST decided to construct a large factory of refractory materials next to which a foundry later arose, therefore another 2,000 slaves were needed to deforest terrain that was practically virgin, dry up the swamplands, construct the buildings and finally to labor in the factories realized with the machines that had been raided by the SS in the invaded territories and in all lands occupied by Hitler’s army.
The 20th of August, 1939, several deportees, who had been camouflaged in Polish uniforms, were taken to Gliewitz, near the local radio transmitter. They were massacred. Using this episode which Hitler tried to palm off as a violation of German territory as a pretext, Hitler launched the Second World War by attacking Poland.
Sachsenhausen served also as a training camp of the SS divisions who were destined for the surveillance and management of other camps: it was a genuine school of sadism and of meticulously organized criminality. Lest we not forget that in this camp, the SS reunited the most famous counterfeiters of Europe. They were ordered to print many millions of British Sterling and American Dollars, and their perfect imitation was taken advantage of in the widest range of situations imaginable.
At Sachsenhausen, too, experiments and pseudo-scientific studies were conducted, using humans as guinea pigs. Here resistance to toxic gas was tested, the effects and immediate reactions to certain poisons was verified. The effects of drugs such as narcotics, preparations to treat typhus, tuberculosis and other viral infections were tested upon the prisoners.
The concentration camp of Sachsenhausen was liberated the 22nd of April, 1945 by advanced troops of the 37th Soviet Army.