Today we woke up in Berlin and began the trip with a pretty intense visit. We went to Sachenhousen concentration camp. There were 30,000 people who died there, not all of them Jews. It was emphasized that the camp was not built to kill people, it was a work camp. To me, this just shows how inhumane everything was-that 30,000 people could die working somewhere where death was not the intention. Clearly death was not prevented on purpose. I saw the barracks where the people slept. It was mostly men, but there were some women in the camp who were forced to work as prostitutes for the men who worked hard enough to be able to use the women. The barracks were just rooms with bunk beds. Tons of people lived in these unheated wooden shacks. 500 people on each side of the barrack had to share a bathroom within 30 minutes in the mornings before work. There were small closets, basically, where sometimes they would just cram a bunch of people in and there would be so many that they would suffocate and die. There was a barbed wire fence on top of a thick cinderblock fence all the way around the triangular shaped camp (shaped that way so one gunman could see everyone in the camp at one time). There was a sand area between the normal gravel and the cinderblock fence. If anyone stepped in this zone, the person would be shot and killed without warning. Sometimes people stepped in it on accident, others on purpose.
There was a part of the camp that they made into a museum where there were photos and different articles and objects from and about the camp. There was a wooden measuring stick that looked like it was used to measure height. We learned, however that people would be told to stand under it, facing away from it and a slit would open up and from behind the wall that the measuring stick was against, a man would point a gun at the person’s neck and shoot and kill him. They used these methods to dehumanize the horrible experience of killing hundreds of people each day. Even the sickest soldiers were warn down by killing so many people. This method made it easier on them-the killers.
There was also a gas chamber and a crematorium. The crematorium was only installed after an incident where bodies were being taken via large truck into town to be cremated and the truck crashed and there were bodies all over the street. People did not like this, and the murderers didn’t want this to happen again, so they built their own small crematorium.
The feelings I had when I was there. Well, the thing that comes to mind is that I felt like I had been there before. It is the strangest thing. I was not very shocked by anything (except the suffocating room and the measuring stick). I am not sure if it is because I have read and heard so much about it that there was not much new there, or if it was because I was numb to it. Im not sure. But I did feel angry. I felt sad for all of the innocent people. I think about how different each person would have made the world and how it cannot be changed. I am confused by it. It doesn’t seem real.
We were outside for pretty much 3 hours. It was snowing. Everyone was cold. No one complained. How can you complain in a place where people were slaves, where people suffered, where people were killed.
Oh yes, I just remembered. They build a hospital. A hospital where the doctors would perform experiments on people. They would cut someone’s hand or arm or leg and put straw in it and wait for it to rot. They would then begin amputating to see how much or how little of the body part they had to cut off. Other times they would do experiments with the cold. They would see how cold a person could get and test ways to warm him up…or not. Fucking disgusting excuses for human beings. To have no heart. I don’t understand.
After the heavy morning in the cold, we went to the German Parliament building. This was occupied by Soviet Russia. I didn’t find the building extremely interesting except for a few parts. There was a hall that had these mock boxes made from some sort of medal with the names of members of parliament on them. One of them was Adolf Hitler. His box had been kicked in.
At the very top, there was a glass ceiling. In the ceiling there was an opening where water could come through into a metal cone shaped thing and then the rain would evaporate and act as a cooling system for the conference room which was located just beneath. It was interesting to see the Parliament building empty.
After all of the events of the day, we went out to watch the Superbowl at a bar in Berlin. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. It was challenging finding a place to sit, but I spotted some chairs in a corner beneath a TV. Later on we got a booth that was as close as possible to the chairs we already occupied. I had the bar’s ribs-delicious. Had 2 beers during happy hour. Watched the first half of the game then went back to the hotel because I wanted to enjoy tomorrow. I had a great time. I really like the people I am with.