The story continues of Germany's teenagers' treatment at the hand of so-called "liberators" after the defeat of Germany. More than half a century later, the harping and yammering about the Third Reich concentration camps is still being stepped up. Who ever heard that there were concentration camps where 13-year-olds were sentenced to death by so-called "liberators"?
Camp Sachsenhausen consisted of two zones and the work area. Internees were located in Zone No. 1, the main camp of the former concentration camp. The Soviet-condemned by the military tribunal were located in Zone 2. Each of the zones had separate barracks for women which were also fenced off.
Until spring 1947, there were barracks for prisoners of war and an officer camp located in a special part of the second zone,. The Bauhof, the Heike Hof and the so?called Commandant's Hof were located in the work zone. Huge mass graves of K.G.B. prisoners, who died of starvation and disease after 1945 and who were buried there, were discovered after 1989 in the area of the Commandant's Hof.
We, who were condemned by the Soviet military tribunal (we were the first arrivals in this camp), were sent to the second zone, also called the Convict Zone, and assigned to several barracks. The 64 women from Alt-Strelitz stayed together. Life in the camp was by no means bearable, not in Zone 1 and less in Zone 2, because here the prisoners were locked up in their barracks around the clock. They were only allowed to leave the barracks during roll call.
Camp life was the life inside the barracks. The windows of the barracks were painted yellow. Rarely were the barracks heated, even in the coldest winter months. In addition to hunger, the cold was the enemy of all prisoners. Clothing was unsatisfactory for all. Many only had an overcoat or a blanket. That was all they had with which to cover themselves while they tried to sleep on the bare boards of the plank beds.
During the freezing winter months, many prisoners formed "sleeping units." Three prisoners crawled together under their covers so they would warm each other. They rotated every night so that each night another one could lie in the middle, because he had the warmest place. Woe to the one expelled from the sleeping unit, because that often meant certain death. Sleep, however, was still difficult, because the plank beds were infested with thousands of bed bugs which attacked as soon as the lights went out.
In general, life in the camp was despicable. The basic conditions have to be considered inhumane. We were constantly hungry. We never had enough food, and the little we had lacked nutritional value. The cold, the isolation and the fear led to physical and psychological consumption. Most prisoners could not avoid catching diseases (dystrophy, dysentery, edema, tuberculosis). Cut off from the outside world and without anything to do and the total lack of any news from our families hastened the decline of strength and destroyed physical mobility and spiritual flexibility.
Because the boys from Wittenberge were housed in different barracks, it was not possible to have any exchange of ideas with schoolmates or others from Wittenberge. Everybody had to fend for himself and tried, in discussions or theoretical demonstrations with other prisoners like physicians or aspiring engineers and graduates, to avoid self?abandonment. For quite a few, the catastrophic camp conditions led to demoralization and self?abandonment. Only the rattle of food containers or trash containers awakened them for a moment from their stupor and lethargy.
During the extreme, harsh winter of 1946-47, the malnourished, thinly?clad prisoners had to master an enormous amount of self?control and stamina. Food rations were reduced. The long, cold days became hell. Roll calls many times required standing for hours in the icy?cold winter air.
All this was unspeakable torture. During these months, the death rate climbed tremendously. The first casualties were among our boys from Wittenberge. During the icy winter of 1946/47, an examination was conducted by Soviet physicians to find out what our physical condition was. Muscles in buttocks, energy reserves for work assignments, were evaluated. At this time, all boys from Wittenberge were already so weak that they were not elected to serve as forced laborers in the Soviet Union.
Month after month went by. The number of tuberculosis and dysentery cases increased among our friends from Wittenberge. More and more were transferred to the tuberculosis barrack from where, in most cases, there was no return.
In the tuberculosis barrack, the starving and sick had to lie close together on the floor. They were forced to observe how, all around them, one after the other died and was taken out of the barrack. The vacated spaces were filled with new cases.
Coincidentally, Gisela Dormann had the opportunity to be in this barrack. She was able to speak with Fritz Werner and Horst Henning a few days before they died. Both were reduced to skeletons and had no more desire to live.
For the starved, emaciated bodies, dysentery were a sure sign of death. Because nothing was done to eliminate the catastrophic conditions, one can rightfully say that this was the evil, systematic destruction of human lives. The death rate for the whole year remained constant. Many prisoners did not survive the following winter, 1947/48 either.
There was frightening news from our boys, too. Until summer 1948,
and later Manfred Schuron had to end their young lives in those subhuman conditions.
Thought for the Day:
"History is a lie agreed upon."
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