Germany’s Dark Tourism- Part 1

SACHSENHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP

So as the blog (and Instagram) has recently displayed, I recently visited Berlin. One of the best trips of my life is an understatement to show how much I truly enjoyed every second. However, the other day I was contemplating what it was I enjoy so much about the history of Germany. The entire history of Germany is VERY broad and I don’t think anyone really knows much about it, besides the monarchal history and the part we all love to read and hear and learn about- Hitler’s Germany.

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No-one can deny that death and tragedy is a thrilling topic. Many may protest that they aren’t interested by the mass genocide of millions but most would admit to it, and even say it makes them more interested in history when something along those lines has occurred. By no means am I saying that it is enjoyable to read of the suffering of others, but there is something so incredibly interesting in reading about darkness, death and destruction.

I think this is one of Germany’s biggest tourism appeals. There are beautiful landscapes, shops galore and a wider extent of culture to even measure but it has to be recognised that one of the largest attractions that brings people to Germany and Berlin in particular is the history of Nazi Germany and the remains of it.

When I visited, this was what I was there to see. Yes, I was also thrilled by the Karl Marx monument and the Berlin Wall, however the main thing I wanted to see and experience was a concentration camp. I don’t think you can truly realise the extent of the Nazi destruction until you visit one. Before, I thought I knew it all. I had a picture of a map in my head, little buildings dotted all over it, images of people starved with no identity. I imagined the striped pyjamas, the yellow stars, the black uniforms. Nothing could prepare you for what you actually FEEL when you are stood at the gates, ARBEIT MACHT FREI, iron letters staring back at you. I visited Sachsenhausen, one of the first concentration camps used to enforce cruel labour and disgusting conditions on Jews, Political enemies and other ‘A Social’ stereotypes. The camp was absolutely huge. Only a few of the bunkers actually remain but the marks remain across the ground where each one was, each housing 300 plus people at one time. Not a lot of things can stun me into silence and take away my ability to shed some form of opinion but this really got me.

Here is a short clip I found on Youtube which captures some of the aspects of the camp that I didn’t photograph. Something really got to me, so much so I could barely even bring myself to take photos because I wanted to forget that it had happened and I was actually seeing the site of such a crime. My view of ‘dark tourism’ completely changed after this visit.

 

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