A trip to Germany is full of fascinating attractions for travelers with an interest in German history, and some of the most heart-breaking are concentration camps in Germany. There are tours you can join to leave from major cities and visit some of the most infamous concentration camps in the country, such as Dachau and Oranienburg. This shocking experience will reveal more information about the camps than you might ever imagine.
The Dachau Memorial Site is one of the best known of all concentration camps in Germany. In March 1933 this camp was set up by Hitler. Over the course of its history 41,500 were murdered and another 200,000 were imprisoned. On April 29, 1945 the camp was liberated by American soldiers. Today travelers can visit the Dachau Memorial Site for guided tours. Located a short bus ride from Munich, it’s also possible to visit on your own and wander through the barracks.
One of the largest concentration camps in Germany was Buchenwald. Established in 1937 near the city of Weimar, prisoners from across Europe and Russia were forced to work in local arms factories at Buchenwald. While it is possible to visit this Memorial Site, some of the camp was demolished after the war. None of the prisoner barracks survived, but it is possible to see main gate, guard towers, and hospital.
Not all concentration camps in Germany were in isolated locations. Take Oranienburg, for example. This concentration camp was opened in 1933 as one of the first detention centers built by the Nazis. Located near Berlin, right in the town of Oranienburg, the Nazis transformed an old factory into a detention center. While Oranienburg does not have history as extensive as some other camps, it is still worth a visit.
Many of the prisoners at Oranienburg were transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Used by the Nazis from 1936 to 1945, Sachsenhausen is located just more than twenty miles north of Berlin. Over 30,000 inmates died here, many of them women. Today the site is open to visitors as a Memorial Site and museum. Many of the buildings have been restored.
Located in northwestern Germany near the town of Celle, Bergen-Belsen is a concentration camp where an estimated 100,000 prisoners died. What began as a prisoner of war camp in 1939 became a concentration camp in 1943. There were no gas chambers at this camp, and many prisoners died of terrible living conditions. A memorial site opened here in 2007, including a large exhibit.
One of the most unusual concentration camps is Ravensbruck. This camp was designed entirely for women prisoners. Located 54 miles north of Berlin and near the village of Ravensbruck, construction of the camp began in 1939 at the request of Heinrich Himmler. Over 130,000 women were imprisoned at Ravensbruck. Today there is a memorial site where visitors can learn about this camp just for women.
No matter what concentration camp in Germany you choose to explore, there are a couple ways to do. One way is to join a tour group. Many travelers are drawn to this option because transportation and tickets are taken care of by the tour company. Other travelers might prefer to rent a car or use public transportation to reach the concentration camps. Some camps only have exhibitions while others offer tours. Another bonus of using a tour group is that you are guaranteed to have an English-speaking tour guide. Whatever method you choose, visiting these camps will form an indelible mark on your memory.