Buchenwald

On the road to Wurzburg (not direct, but along the Autobahns – so much faster, if longer in distance, than the ‘direct’ route, is the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Most camps in Germany weren’t death camps, per se. That is, they weren’t originally designed to be mass extermination camps … but the conditions there were so harsh that deaths were inevitable. And, of course, as things got worse for Germany and the Final Solution got well and truly under way, things got worse in the ‘not’ death camps.

Buchenwald was originally for political prisoners, but also held Russian POWs, Jews and, well, any number of odds and sods who had the misfortune to either come to the (unfavourable) attention of the Nazi authorities or who were regarded as racially (or other category) ‘undesirable.’

Interestingly, after the end of the war the Russians took it over and continued to operate it as a camp, no less brutal and no less lethal, for their political opponents. And, of course, the DDR followed suit for quite a while.

The more things change …

The main gate to the prison compound – interrogation cells on the left and offices and othe bits and bobs on the right. Doesn’t look too bad, does it?
“To each what they deserve” … the motto on the entry gates. Not quite as cynical as Arbeit Macht Frei.
The prisoner’s Commissary. The SS, cynical as all get out, ‘allowed’ prisoners to purchase goods shoddily made in the basement workshops with money sent to them by their loved ones … assuming, of course, their loved ones actually knew where they had been sent. The practise, both under the Nazis and then under the Communists, was often to simply ‘disappear’ people and ignore requests for information …
The only surviving Barracks Block – and it only survived because it was sold to a private company who used it as offices in their construction business for many years. For the rest? There’s either no obvious trace if they were entirely of wood construction (as this is) or there are stone foundations if they were slightly more substantial. Or the inmates were kept in tents. in the case of the Russians and the cold war prisoners they might not even get that.
The Crematorium. Since this wasn’t a death camp, it wasn’t as big as in places such as Auschwitz … but the death rate was high and it was set up as an industrial scale process,

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