Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen

Cemetery description

The concentration camp in Sachsenhausen (a district of the city of Oranienburg at present) was established by order of Heinrich Himmler in the summer of 1936, just after he took charge of the Third Reich police apparatus. Himmler considered Sachsenhausen to be a model concentration camp. Therefore, numerous commandants and senior SS officials, who later took leading roles in other concentration camps (like e.g. Rudolf Höss - the Commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp), underwent training here. In 1938, the Concentration Camps Inspectorate (Inspektion der Konzentrationslager), the administrative centre of all the concentration camps, was moved to Oranienburg
. On average, approximately 50,000 prisoners were kept at a time in the camp. In total, more than 200,000 prisoners went through the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and its branches, approximately 100,000 of whom died. However, the exact number of the camp’s victims remains unknown.
Initially, the Sachsenhausen camp served as a place of imprisonment for political prisoners who were opponents of the National Socialist regime. With time, these were replaced by members of groups that were considered by the Nazis to be of little racial or biological value. This was so until 1939, when citizens of the occupied European countries began to be incarcerated here. Soviets formed the greatest number of prisoners, followed by Polish citizens. Unfortunately, their exact number has never been established. What is known is the fact that among the 100,000 victims of the camp, 30,000 were Polish. In 1944, almost 18,000 Poles were imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. Members of the resistance movement and intellectuals, including 169 professors and scholars from the Jagiellonian University and the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow (120 were freed after the personal intervention of Benito Mussolini, while 14 died) predominated among the Polish prisoners. Another group of prisoners were 600 priests and bishops from Poland. Sachsenhausen was the place of death of the Commander of the Home Army - General Stefan Grot-Rowecki. Now, the cell in which he was kept is marked by a memorial plaque. Grot-Rowecki is also commemorated by a monument that was erected not far from the monument devoted to Polish and German clergymen murdered in the camp.
The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was also a place of medical experiments performed on prisoners, which frequently led to their death or disability. In 1941, the first trial gassings of Soviet prisoners through the use of specially adapted vans took place. This idea of ‘gas vans’ was later transferred to the Kulmhof extermination centre and the Majdanek concentration camp. In 1942, a crematorium and a special killing room for carrying out the shootings of prisoners were built, followed by a gas chamber in 1943. This complex was called ‘Station Z’. The ashes of prisoners who died of hunger, disease, forced labour or were murdered by the SS, were dumped in that area. Before the construction of the camp’s crematoria, the bodies were burnt in the municipal crematorium in Oranienburg.
Initially, the prisoners carried out their slave labour in the workshops and plants run by the SS in the neighbourhood of the camp, in penal companies as well as in a huge ‘Klinkerwerk’ brick factory that produced bricks later used in numerous building projects in Berlin. The Sachsenhausen camp had more than 100 sub-camps and external kommandos (working units). The prisoners were forced to work for the sake of the German armaments industry, like the Heinkel aircraft manufacturing company in Oranienburg or the Siemens or AEG plants in Berlin, among other places. The death rate among the slave labourers was very high. The victims’ bodies were buried in mass graves in the cemeteries located near their workplaces. In 1945, when the Red Army crossed the Odra River, the camp began to be evacuated. The prisoners who were unable to work were murdered, whereas the remaining prisoners were force-marched in the so-called ‘death marches’ to the Mauthausen-Gusen and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, among other places. Many of them did not survive. On 22 April 1945, Soviet and Polish troops liberated the camp and freed approximately 3,000 sick inmates that had been left behind in the camp. Some of them died soon afterwards.
In 1961, the Sachsenhausen National Memorial was created in place of the former concentration camp. However, the site covered only a small part of the camp as the remaining area was used, until 1990, by the German army. In 1993, after the reunification of Germany, the original camp buildings were systematically refurbished and the Sachsenhausen museum became part of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation financed by the federal authorities and the Brandenburg Land.
The mass graves can be found in the area of ‘Station Z’ and the barracks of the former camp hospital. All the information about the victims of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, its sub-camps and kommandos is available in the Book of the Dead of Sachsenhausen 1936-1945 at:, as well as at:

Address details

Cemetery address: Oranienburg, Brandenburg
Sachsenhausen, Straße der Nationen 22
16515 Oranienburg
GPS: 52.76387,13.26094

Cemetery administration:  Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen - Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten,,,
Tel. +49-3301-200-0

Photos of the cemetery

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