Beautiful Berlin, Part 2

For our last full day in Berlin, we had plans to travel outside the city to visit the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial.  Sadly we started the day with a rookie traveller mistake: despite our best efforts we missed the train out by 30 seconds.  No joke, it was pulling away as we were running towards the doors.  And guess what?  The next didn’t leave for a hour!  So, we grabbed some caffeinated beverages and sat around the Hauptbanhof killing time.  From the train station you can either take a metro bus or walk about 2km to the camp.  We decided to make the walk (partially because we couldn’t figure out when the bus was going to show up and partially because it was a nice day out).  At the concentration camp we purchased audioguides and made our way down to the entrance gates.

IMG_7344

This camp was interesting because not only did it serve as a concentration camp during Hitler’s reign, it also was a “special camp” for the Soviets after the war.  The camp was actually being constructed during the 1936 Olympics by prisoners from another camp.  While it housed mainly political opponents of the Third Reich, it also had many Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses and others.  We saw barracks with beds & “washing facilities”, the prison, the area where hangings took place, the area where roll call was held up to three times a day, the hospital, morgue, crematorium, the area where other executions took place (usually by firing squad) and so much more.  Walking through the grounds of the camp, imaging what horrors occurred there was a sobering experience to say the least.  I have a hard time describing our experience, after all I’m glad we went but I don’t know that I can call our time there enjoyable, if you get my drift.

Translated says "Work makes free" - found on the entrance gates of many (if not all) of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Translated says “Work makes free” – found on the entrance gates of many (if not all) of the Nazi Concentration Camps

Reconstruction of the security system - and electric fence with barbed wire at the base

Reconstruction of the security system – and electric fence with barbed wire at the base

If prisoners crossed to the gravel/stone area they were shot - some actually intentionally ran directly into the fences hoping to be shot or electrocuted to death

If prisoners crossed to the gravel/stone area they were shot – some actually intentionally ran directly into the fences hoping to be shot or electrocuted to death

Every rectangle on the ground represents where a barrack once stood

Every rectangle on the ground represents where a barrack once stood

The washing basin - imagine over 200 people standing at these with less than 5 minutes to toilet, wash and be at roll call

The washing basin – imagine over 200 people standing at these with less than 5 minutes to toilet, wash and be at roll call

"Beds" - if you could call them that

“Beds” – if you could call them that

A plaque at the location of the hangings

A plaque at the location of the hangings

A memorial erected by the GDR (east German government) in honor of all those who suffered on the grounds

A memorial erected by the GDR (east German government) in honor of all those who suffered on the grounds

Execution area

Execution area

Memorial on the site where the crematorium stood

Memorial on the site where the crematorium stood

Emotionally and physically tired, we returned our audio guides and made the walk back to the train station.  We made another rookie traveller mistake – we had no idea what time the train left to return (but we knew it left every 30-45 minutes).  Being tired and thirsty I convinced C we should pop into a grocery for a bottle of water and Coke on our way back to the train station.  Well, guess what?  We missed the return train by about 2 minutes.  Yep, we would have made it had I not insisted on that refreshment break.  Gah!  Oh well, thankfully we only had to wait 30 minutes for the next one, unlike the hour in the morning.

After getting back to the Hauptbanhof, we took a short detour on the way back to the apartment to see the Parlament der Bäume – translation: Parliament of Trees.  It is a memorial to those who lost their lives due to the Berlin Wall.  It houses pieces of the wall as well as memorial plaques and various trees and shrubbery.  It was a pretty neat space, but there was some sort of political thing winding down and I felt a little strange being there so we made it a short visit.

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall

Plaques with names of those who lost their lives at the Wall

Plaques with names of those who lost their lives at the Wall

We capped our last day with dinner at a BBQ place we’d found out about online.  It didn’t have many reviews, but they were all solid.  It didn’t take much convincing to get C on board.  The place was great!  It served ribs that were fall-off-the-bone tender, delicious pulled pork, chicken which was super moist and brisket (which we did not sample).  The sauce was sweet but spicy with a little vinegar.  To top it off they had frozen Moscow Mules and a good beer selection to help wash it all down.  It wasn’t good ol’ Texas BBQ like we’re used to, but it was a pretty good substitute and a great way to end our stay in Berlin!