This Monday morning William and I awoke to a beautiful sunny day. I was so happy because today we would drive about an hour and a half north of Berlin to visit Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Once we got in the car and I opened the Google Maps for directions and my heart sank. The directions came up okay but there was a note that said the Camp might not be open when we arrived. I immediately dug deeper into the Web to see why I would get this message and sure enough the Camp was only open Tuesday thru Sunday.
We decided to drive up to Ravensbruck anyway just to see if I could get a glimpse of the Camp. This site was extremely important to me because last year my book club and I read Lilac Girls. This book is the story of a young Polish Girl, an ambitious young German female doctor, and an American philanthropist best known for helping the surviving Polish women subjected to medical experimentation by the Nazis at Ravensbruck. Besides forced labor at the camp the Polish women were subjected to medical experimentations. The Nazis inserted barbed wire, fragments of wood, glass splinters and bacteria in the Prisoner’s legs which left those that survived the experiments limping and hopping thus giving them the name of “rabbits.” It’s a very moving book and one that made me want to drive out of the way just to visit the camp.
When we arrived at the camp there were about 25 cars in the parking lot so my spirits raised. Perhaps the camp would be open. What we found is that only the visitor’s center and the museum were closed so I got a personal walk around Ravensbruck.
From the book I remembered how the camp set just at the edge of a beautiful lake so that’s where I headed first.
The sculpture called “Burdened Woman” sat there at the lake’s side. What was so interesting was the steps led directly deep into the water.
Just a stone’s throw from the lake sat the crematoria. The memorial to the right side is a burial site for the ashes found here after the war. Each of the little stones are there in memory of those that perished here.
Sitting next to this was another Sculpture of the women at Ravensbruck.
What surprised me the most about the camp was its size which is difficult to show in pictures. The restoration of the camp is also a work in progress but in these pictures you can see the places where the bunk houses once sat. The buildings that remain are those of the labor shops. I believe that the camp is about a half of a mile wide by several miles long.
Here is the actual entrance to the camp and a photo of what it looked like before.
Because the book also focused on the German doctor who did the experiments I was very interested to see the Bunk Houses for the doctors at the camp. They have been restored.
These are the officer quarters which are partially restored.
Even though the museum was actually closed I still could look in the windows to see some of the displays. I am guessing this is either cell blocks or where the medical experiments happened.
There were memorials all around the camp and I’d like to share those with you too.
I kindly ask that you take a look at this video in remembrance of the 60,000 women and children who lost their lives here at Ravensbruck.
I am dedicating this post to my wonderful book club friends. Thanks for sharing this book and story of Ravensbruck with me.