Skull under water. A report from the former concentration camp ravensbrück

The crematorium building. © /

Georgy Zotov

/ AiF

Museums at former Nazi concentration camps are not popular tourist attractions. In vain. Here it would be good to carry often “historians” are regularly trying to downplay the significance of our Victory.

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Lake Svedese striking beauty in good weather. With its shores is perfectly visible city of fürstenberg, situated 90 kilometers from Berlin, with a Gothic Church and intricately colored houses. On the water surface gliding busily fed the ducks, filling the neighborhood with sound. It’s been 73 years, but in the sand Svedese still find charred fragments of human bones. Phalanges, parts of ribs and tiny fragments of children’s skulls. In 1939-1945 there was a women’s concentration camp ravensbrück SS, through which passed the 130,000 women (many with their children) from all over Europe. Of these, 90 000 were lost. Built in 1943, the crematoria worked around the clock: the ashes of the Nazis tortured people were thrown into the water Svedese. Remains fully covered the entire bottom, Svedese turned into a sea of death – he died even the fish. On the shore a monument is one exhausted, the prisoner is holding the other. When the morning of 30 April 1945 in ravensbrück Soviet soldiers entered, the surviving prisoners kissed their hands.

A crematorium. Photo: AiF/ Georgy Zotov

“Beat until sweat”

In the Museum on the site of the camp is not too crowded. I met one visitor, and at the end of the walk – the other, both with cameras. Access is difficult – with a transfer by train from Berlin, and 25 minutes walk from the station. Underfoot rustling black and grey pebbles like sea pebbles: the field from the barracks reminiscent of the ashes. Huge plot of land blocking wall covered on top with barbed wire, it once was current. To the slimy stones sometimes bring toys in memory of those killed in the camp children. Just ravensbrück contained 881 child. A large part of the young prisoners now rests on the bottom of the lake, which became a mass grave for babies. That recalls the prisoner of Ravensbruck Elizabeth Nowicki: “From the window jumped out of the barracks a boy of about five and ran to his mother. The warden swung his whip. The boy fell, then got up on his knees and still crawling. The warden ran to the child and began to kick until he died. Beat until sweat”. Children in the camp were not given any clothes, no shoes, no food rations, consisting of soup, 200 grams of bread and potato peelings. If the child’s mother died, another prisoner must take patronage over him – fed child, even though it looks long resembled a skeleton.

Women prisoners in the construction of ravensbrück. Photo: Bundesarchiv

Death in his mother’s arms

I go into the former sewing shop. Prisoners were forced then to make robes for prisoners to other camps, and later in the form of German soldiers. Prisoners worked hard in the production of the concern “Siemens” and the construction of buildings for the security of SS – from dawn till night digging trenches. Women raised to 4 a.m., slave labor lasted 14 hours a day. Shop and in April, like the freezer, thoroughly blown by the wind… But there was work in December and February, when the barracks were not heated? The prisoners died by the thousands: the matron from the “helpers of the SS” incited the dogs, beaten with whips, deprived of rations for any offense – there should be a lot of death, completely emaciated person? One day, a group of Jewish girls was locked in solitary confinement and not given any food for five days. Finally opening the door, the guards found corpses there. A separate exposition “Vinkel” – camp stripe in the shape of a triangle. In February 1943, ravensbrück was the first to bring 543 women from the Soviet Union (prisoners of war doctors, telecommunications workers, nurses) and they refused to wear the triangle with the letter R – “Russland”: “You will not separate us by nationality, we are Soviet citizens.” SS, surprised at such audacity, gave way: they sewed red “Winkel” SU – “Soviet Union”. “Our employees are periodically interviewed the survivors and they all said they were impressed with the durability of Soviet women – tells me the Deputy Director of the Museum, Cordula Hundertmark. – Their will could break the ill-treatment, hunger and cold.”

Prison-solitary confinement, where a slew of Jewish girls. Photo: AiF/ Georgy Zotov

The crematorium is in the same place look oven open jaws of the black monsters. The building was built by order from Berlin: the same institution of the city of Fürstenberg were not able to cope with the burning of the dead women and children’s corpses. In 1942, the Nazis shot in ravensbrück 700 wives of Polish politicians and aristocrats. Of the 1000’s of French women, brought in February 1944 half of the winter did not survive – the women placed in tents (spaces in huts not enough) in the open field, on the icy ground. Mother tried to warm the children with her body and froze along with them. They were then dragged to the crematorium, embraced their children, with ice in her eyes and opened mouths. In December 1944 the head of the SS Heinrich Himmler, visiting Ravensbruck, ordered: labour productivity is insignificant, all the prisoners of the camp should be destroyed. Hastily erected a small gas chamber – just three and a half months there killed 6,000 people. Some women to avoid death from the gas, threw chest on the barbed wire is electrified. The camera is not preserved – freeing ravensbrück, the Soviet soldiers destroyed it in anger, leaving no stone unturned.

Women released from a concentration camp ravensbrück. 1945.

Fund 1812 (@fond1812) on March 8, 2015

“The Russians are our liberators”

I ask the Deputy Director of the Museum Cordula, Hundertmark, why there are almost no visitors. “Usually in the summer more,’ she says. – We bring school groups, although for Teens it is a heavy sight”. – “Would you like to take Russian school children?” “Yes, of course. We welcome the visits of a large number of people.” Asking a new question: “Whom the Museum believes the Soviet soldiers who broke the gates of the camp April 30, 1945?” “Liberators firmly meets Frau Hundertmark. – Everything is crystal clear.” Another employee of the Museum highlights: the survivors prisoners, and after ‘ 73 they say they are grateful to the red army for saving their lives. But he adds: “Please do not mention my name. To compliment in Russia now unpopular.” Who would doubt.

The words “Soviet Union” on the wall lists all of the state whose citizen was in the camp. Photo: AiF/ Georgy Zotov

I stand on the shore of lake Swedese and look at its black waters, silently devoured the remains of tens of thousands of women and children. The building where lived the executioners of the SS, well preserved: the commandant”s office, and the house of the captain of the guard, and cottages for the guards. The youngest – the Irma Dream, who scored to death with a whip fifty prisoners, – was only 19 years old: after the capitulation of Germany it was condemned and hanged as war criminal.

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Now the cottages hosted the German youth organization. Although, I think it would be better not to settle of adolescents in the rooms murderers of children. In 1945, in Eastern Europe the Red army was greeted with flowers and people in striped uniforms, liberated from concentration camps, in tears, threw herself on the neck of Soviet soldiers. Now about their exploits in the separate republics, not only forget – and even accuse God knows what. Museums at former concentration camps in the EU are not too often visited – and very sorry. They still keep striking evidence, from a terrible and dark nightmare liberated Europe cursed by historians of the West red.

The monument at the camp wall. Photo: AiF/ Georgy Zotov

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