Holocaust Memorials


The Gates to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
"Work Makes (You) Free"

Why I Always Visit Holocaust and Genocide Related Sites and Museums

I don't know when I first learned about the Holocaust. I don't have a moment that defines my determination to educate myself and others on the horrors of genocide. What I do know is that I absolutely have to learn everything that I can so that I can educated my students, and so hopefully it won't happen again. After the Holocaust, many countries said "never again." Never will we again allow genocide to happen. Since the Holocaust there have been three officially declared genocides, but many more that have taken place that have not been officially declared not put to justice. Clearly humanity is still working on learning this lesson, which is why I need to learn more and will not pass up any opportunity.

Note: I am placing images from the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in this post. The images were taken not to disrespect the victims of the Holocaust, but to tell their story to educate people on the horrors of the Holocaust.

Most of my students have learned that the fastest way to change a lesson plan is by asking me questions about Holocaust and genocide. We could be talking about pop culture in the 1920s and immediately change the lesson plan because I don't know how to reel it in when it comes to Holocaust and Genocide prevention. How do I explain in teaching job interviews that my best lesson wasn't even planned, that it came from a student asking why no one did anything to stop the Holocaust? And I was insanely proud of that student for trying to dig deeper and understand why and how. And by encouraging this critical thinking is how I believe that "never again" will be fulfilled. So to be a good teacher, I need to gather up as much knowledge as possible.

Barracks at Sachsenhausen

Whenever I travel anywhere, I always stop at all the memorial plaques for the Holocaust or any genocide. I say a silent prayer for those who died, those who tried to stop it, and for those who survived. And to many people it's just a statue, to me it's a city paying its respects to its people. They're silent reminders of a not so happy history. And next comes the museums. If there is any Holocaust or genocide museum, it is always at the top of my list. Not because I get sick pleasure from seeing the graphic images, but because I am educating myself on a topic that I am passionate about. For some people it's protecting the environment or socialized medicine, for me it's Holocaust and genocide prevention. And now when I go to these museums I know most of the things that are on the panels, I am interested to see how each country presents it. And now I'm looking at remembering smaller details to see how it relates to the bigger picture. I always leave with a heavy heart and emotional, I am satisfied that I filled my brain up with this knowledge.

A Guard Tower at Sachsenhausen

So when I went to Berlin, I had to take the trip outside the city to see a concentration camp. I had never read any information about the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp before my visit. It was the first concentration camp that I have ever visited, but it will not be the last. Sachsenhausen was used mostly for political prisoners and prisoners of war. But it also had many Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Homosexuals. It didn't start out as an extermination camp, it mostly used forced labor to help build Berlin into the Nazis' envisioned capital. But through the years a gas chamber was built and more and more people were exterminated. Today it is less than an hour ride on the S-Bahn outside of Berlin. It wasn't hidden in some forest, it wasn't hundreds of miles away. It was a quick train ride. So I walked the entire grounds of the concentration camp and took some pictures to bring back to my students and teach them. 

Latrines at Sachsenhausen

But how do I find the right words to properly educate or inspire people to dig deeper? To learn the warning signs? To prevent history from repeating itself, or rhyming? To pays respects? Words fail me, so instead I will leave you with some images for you to draw your own conclusions.

What is left of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Today
Entrance to the Memorial and the Museum

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