Monday, May 12, 2014

Breaking the Circle: Buchenwald Concentration Camp (Weimar)



The white memorial tower with the text MCMXLV - 1945, is visible far away on the Ettersberg hill, surrounded by trees and vivid green. This is Buchenwald, one of the first and biggest concentration camps on the German ground and walking around it in the morning, with no so many visitors and the strong light, it's a very strong experience. Till now I've visited several concentration camps as well as extermination camps outside Germany and I have to say that Buchenwald is very well preserved and the documentation center is very well made.

"In 1958, in the vicinity of the concentration camp’s mass graves on the south slope of the Ettersberg, the GDR builds a memorial complex which is visible far and wide. Its monumentality is intended to reflect the extent of the crimes, but it serves first and foremost as a national memorial. Its chief focus is the German Communist members of the resistance. Their history is to serve as a legitimation of the SED’s (Socialist Unity Party’s) claim to leadership in the GDR. The "Nationale Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Buchenwald" ("National Buchenwald Memorial") is expanded to become the largest German concentration camp memorial, complete with exhibitions, an archive and a library." (from buchenwald.de)
A lot of the areas of the camp (with the exception of the barracks, made of wood) are very well preserved and original: the entrance, the crematorium, the disinfection station, the effects, clothing and equipment depot buildings, th and even the SS zoo, which was in the camp.
Prisoners from all over Europe and the Soviet Union—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and other Slavs, the mentally ill and physically-disabled from birth defects, religious and political prisoners, Roma and Sinti, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses (then called Bible Students), criminals, homosexuals, and prisoners of war — worked primarily as forced labor in local armaments factories. From 1945 to 1950, the camp was used by the Soviet occupation authorities as an internment camp, known as NKVD special camp number 2.
The camp was made free from the Americans, but then it was under the influence of the Soviet Union and as for the all area, in the DDR.
As long as this place is such a strong place, there's no need to be retorical about it and use too many words for a place that you just need to visit by yourself.

More infos: WIKI

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