Thursday we headed to another country: Germany! We were in a Harry Potter train again, but this time there were no beds. The guy who checked our ticket started yelling at us for not putting the date on our Eurorail passes. He continued to yell at us in front of everyone saying we would have to pay a 250-euro fine each. A fine for not putting the date on our passes before getting on the train! No one told us prior; now we know. He ended up just doing it for us.
Saturday morning we had a six-hour tour of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Before getting on the train, we met four other PT majors from San Diego, California. They were undergrads and thought we were the coolest people for doing a clinical over in Italy and wanted to do one too!
Our tour guide was from New Zealand (and was really cute too!) and moved to Berlin when he met his German wife. On the way home from the camp, he gave us suggestions on where to go, what to eat, and what to see during the rest of our stay.
After the tour, we went to see the Berlin wall. There are parts of the wall still standing, and we were advised to go to the portion covered in graffiti by the river. A wired fence protects some of the wall while other parts are open and can be touched by passersby. Tourists were writing their names on the wall as they walked passed!
We took a wrong turn while heading to dinner and ended up in a large park. This was probably one of the scariest experiences I’ve had thus far. About a 100 guys lined the sidewalks of the park and approached/tried to talk to us. We could smell weed and saw a guy right in front of us snort something straight from another guy’s hand! Luckily there were families with children walking through the park too, so we weren’t alone.
Next stop: Amsterdam, Netherlands!
Capital of Germany
3.5 million people
After WWII, the city was divided into East & West Berlin surrounded by the Berlin wall (1961-1989). Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of the united Germany.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp:
Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945.
Executions did take place, but only after the war started. It was made as a work camp.
The main gait (Guard Tower “A”) held a 8mm maxim machine gun that could point down the lines of each of the barracks. It also housed the offices of the camp administration.
On the front entrance the gates held the infamous slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will set you free).
About 200,000 people passed through the camp between 1936 and 1945.
50,000 were brutally murdered.
First camp established under Heinrich Himmler
Until its closure in March 1950 another 60,o00 were captive here of which 12,000 died of similar catastrophic conditions of hunger, physiological, and physical exhaustion.
Sachsenhausen was intended to set a standard for other concentrations camps, both in its design and the treatment of its prisoners.
**I don’t really want to share too much more concerning concentration camps and the treatment because I advise all readers to travel to one and experience it personally. Being in one definitely gives you a different kind of feeling and a special appreciation for life.
Famous Prisoners held in Sachsenhausen:
Georg Elser: opponent of Nazis who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler on his own in November 1939. He was later moved to Dachau concentration camp.
- (Inspired the movie 13 minutes-look up how and why this attempt failed! History was changed forever because of just 13 minutes!)
Yakov Dzhugashvili: Joseph Stalin’s eldest son, was briefly imprisoned and then died here in 1943. He was kept alive thinking he would be a good collateral during the war, but Stalin later claimed that he did not have a son, and he became unimportant.