Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum
The site was the concentration camp for the political prisoners between the WW2 period, 1936 – 1945. Currently the site is used as a memorial and museum for visitors all over the world to witness the vicious human acts happening at the same place during the time.
Someone might ask, why keeping the place? Why the maintenance of the horrible landmark which reminds people’s extreme violence and twisted racism? Won’t it be the symbol of humiliation?
The celebration for the liberation of the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum is between April 20 – 25 every year. Last year, around 60 suvivors attended the ceremony and shared with each other their life stories. One of the survivors was a man who was arrested by the Nazis at the age of 15 by then, and sent to the Sachsenhausen camp for two years. He managed to survive the horrid treatment, and was liberated by the Soviet and Polish soldiers at last. When asked where he could go next, he simply replied – ‘I just want to go home and see my mother.’ A few days ago the man arrived at the camp. In a wheelchair, he went to the prison room in which he was locked during the time and told his story. I was moved to near tears when hearing the sharing. The emotions one bears throughout all the tragedy bezond one can carry, and courage and bravery he drives to move on…this is the living experience, model for those who struggle to find hope in life under darkness.
Many were not lucky as that man. Even upon liberation, many’s homes became destroyed beyond repair, or their loved ones have been forever gone. It was so hard to imagine how one could return to the normal lives. I saw another quote there at the museum – ‘I was liberated after 6 months of imprisonment but I still felt being imprisoned…’
At the beginning of the walking tour around the memorial and museum, I experienced the bad weather. It was raining heavily, and the wind hit everyone hard. The temperature dropped to 4 degree while the tour went on – we stayed outdoor for 5 full-on hours to walk around the site, or simply stood from time to time in the wild area to listen to the information relevant to the nearby spot. Despite my interest and passion to attend to the history, many times the same thought came to my mind – if it was not the fact that I paid for the tour, I would have left the place. The suffering was unbearable!
Then I constantly reminded myself, or more it was the site which reminded me: this was the place when the innocent prisoners remained being locked for more than 5 hours, and they were forced to conduct heavy labor work for their enemies who use their work to attack the prisoners’ own people. The physical and psychological torture was beyond imagination. And they had to stay in the prison throughout the whole year, and that included the even more horrible weather. My suffering in the rain appeared so small and insignificant.
And this reflects the complete loss of humanity at that time. When one becomes blinded by the hunger for power and control, the drive for more of such gratification can even take over the innate human beauty of empathy, kindness and peace. Sometimes I wonder how the german soldiers at that time can lived on their lives while being embedded within their own acts of crulty and terror. This is what I think – when an ant attempts to move an elephant, it simply cannot do so because of the enomous realistic size. However, when all ants come together, the elephant is killed within minute and only bones are left in the scene. This applies to the good act as well as the bad act. Under the inevitable social and political enviornment, German soldiers and the whole cultural civilization is constantly reinforced the unidirectional twisted education and conduct. When one is left alone, perhaps the self doubt may arise. When all are taught together and disciplined, all simply go along with the mainstream.
This is why I love the quote I saw towards the end of the tour.
‘And I know one thing more – that the Europe of the future cannot exist without commemorating all those, regardless of their nationality, who were killed at that time with complete contempt and hate, who were tortured to death, starved, gassed, incinerated and hanged…’
Prisoner of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
The history does not just stay in the past. People are still living with the consequences of WW2. Those who once survived the holocaust will soon leave the world, yet the ideology and the lesson can still be instilled into anyone’s minds. In the same period, Japanese invasion impacted the whole East Asia and its massacre on the Chinese was similar if not more extreme. In the present day, wars between and within nations remain, and thez are continue to be driven and reinforced by human manipulation for power, self-benefits and extremism. It is important that all of us to attend to the past history happened to our human race. Only when we embrace the past can we truly learn from mistakes and move on at the right way.
RIP for those who lost their lives in the WW2, and those who fell into vitims of human wars. May we continue to fight for world peace.
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