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Old 15 Dec 18, 06:36 PM  
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Christmas Markets and more! Berlin Nov/Dec 2018 - Day 2

Day 2 - Sunday 2nd December

Alarm woke me at 7am. I really wanted to hit the snooze button but we needed to be up and ready to leave by 8am as we were going to the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp this morning. As some readers may find what I write or the photos too harrowing I'll put that part of the day into italics so you can scroll past.
We were due to meet Chris our guide from yesterday at 9am outside the Starbucks by Brandenburg Gate but we needed to get some breakfast first.
Walked up Unter den Linden and stopped in Dunkin Donuts as Starbucks didn’t open until 8.30.

Got myself a Coke Zero and bottle of water plus 2 donuts. One for now, one for later! H a very berry smoothie and a blueberry muffin plus a Diet Coke for later and mum a cappuccino and cereal bar. €21 altogether
All very nice, I felt a bit more awake once I had my much needed jolt of sugar!
We popped next door to a deli to get some rolls for lunch as Chris said there was nowhere to eat once we were there.

We now needed to get our train tickets for the journey which was very easy. There was the train station right in the square and the ticket machine was very simple to use. We needed an ABC day ticket at the cost of €7.70 each. Once these were purchased we went up to meet Chris and the rest of our group.
At 9am prompt we left and went down into the Brandenburg Tor station we had just been into. We needed to validate our tickets which is all very straight forward. We could have actually bought them last night as you get 24 hours from when they’re validated not from when they’re bought!

We needed the C1 train all the way to Oranienburg which is the last stop and was the next train along. This journey takes 47 minutes exactly.

We got off and reconvened on the platform. Chris said we could get the bus but as they don’t come that frequently it would be quicker to walk. Also this would have been the exact journey the prisoners would have taken when they were brought here by train.
Journey took about 15-20 minutes through Oranienburg itself.

This road leads to the concentration camp and the SS once lived in these houses

Went into the visitor centre for a restroom break then we started the tour itself. If you don’t have a guide you can hire the audio guides here too. Sachsenhausen was built by the Nazis in 1936 primarily for political opponents of Hitler until the war started then Soviet POW's and the Jewish were also captured and sent here.

We walked passed what was the former SS training camp and was in fact the biggest SS training camp the nazis had.

From here we walked into the prison yard under the Guard Block A. This is where the prisoners would have come for the first time. They would have had all their belongings taken off of them, stripped naked and shaved from head to foot. They would then be given a blue and white striped outfit not dissimilar to pyjamas.

Loosely translates to 'work sets you free'

We walked around into the Jewish quarters where they were kept separate from the others. We went into one of the barracks where they slept, ate and washed. Up to 500 inmates at a time were squeezed into one of these buildings!

In 1992 a group of Neo Nazis broke into Sachsenhausen and set fire to a few of the barracks. They systematically chose the ones in the Jewish area. Luckily it got put out before the whole thing burned to the ground but they have had to rebuild one half. This half now houses an exhibition whereas the original half shows their sleeping quarters, dining room and wash room. They would only get 15-30 minutes in the morning to get dressed, eat and bathe and with upwards of 200 men trying to get into these wash areas at once there were times when people were trampled to death.

A typical day would start at 4.30am. For breakfast you were given a small glass of water and a small chunk of bread which was mostly made up of sawdust. By 5 you were out on the lawn ready for the first of 3 roll calls of the day or other words a head count. This could last for hours, and was actually done 3 times in a row. You couldn’t move an inch whilst this was being done. In the height of winter they could be standing outside in -20 degree weather.
Once the guards were satisfied everyone was present you were sent out to work. This could be making concrete blocks to build more of the concentration camp or even at one time they were made to print counterfeit sterling. The plan was the Nazis would drop a bomb of this money over the UK in the hope the Britons would pick it up and flood the market with fake currency. They didn’t succeed though as most with an ounce of sense wouldn’t pick up money that had literally fallen out of the sky. There would be another roll call at some point during the working day. For lunch it would be another cup of water, a chunk of bread and some watery broth. The same again for dinner. Prisoners were kept on a diet of only 200-400 calories a day. Once we had explored the bunker we walked around to the torture yard. One method they used was whipping you 25 times whilst being bent over. You had to count each whip and if you got a number wrong the guard would just start all over again! You can imagine for those prisoners where German wasn’t their first language they would often get the numbers wrong.
Another form of torture was to tie your hands behind your back and hang you by them from these poles. Eventually your shoulders would dislocate and quite often your elbow and wrists too. Sometimes the guards would yank on you to make it happen faster or even fill your pockets with heavy rocks.

It was so bone chilling to be standing in the exact same spot as where these atrocities took place.
We now walked around the yard to another exhibition that housed lots of artefacts from the time Sachsenhausen was run by the Nazis. It was absolutely freezing outside so was nice to be in the warmth for a while although hearing about everything the prisoners went through I felt ridiculous for even moaning about it!
We now walked round to probably the most harrowing part of the camp. Where they executed the prisoners. This trench was used by the firing squad for resistance fighters, conscientious objectors and those that were sentenced by Nazi Special Courts. It is not a recreation but the actual remains that are left. Hundreds of inmates died this way.

In 1939 the SS built Station Z, a site that housed various facilities for creating mass murder. Station Z was the nickname that the SS gave the execution site. You enter under Guard Block A and exit by Station Z...
It is covered by a white structure to preserve the original footprint of this building.

When the Soviet took over the camp in 1945 they actually blew up part of this building but the foundation still remains. First we were told about the gas chamber. Prisoners were blind folded then put into the back of a windowless van at night and driven around the block a few times to disorientate them. The van then reversed down this slope and when the prisoners got out they had no idea they were only a few hundred yards from where they were taken from and probably thought they were being transferred to another camp or for some about to be set free. They likely didn’t know what was about to happen to them as they were stripped and showered then had to take a seat in the room. It was only when the doors were closed and poisonous gas filled the air would they have realised their fate. Another way the SS executed was a new method tried and tested here. That was by shooting the prisoner in the base of the neck from the room next door. They used a measuring ruler to determine exactly where to shoot. The prisoner would likely have never known what was about to happen. The reason the SS went to lengths to keep prisoners from knowing what was about to happen was so to keep them calm and minimise any risk of them harming their guards. Such a complete twisted mind game!
We had now come to the end of the tour and I for one felt completely emotionally drained.

We walked back through the yard to the visitor centre where we had a bathroom break and reconvened. From here we all walked back to the station and thankfully just about made the train before it pulled away. Would have been a cold 20 minutes waiting for the next one. It was a very subdued journey home with the 3 of us reflecting what we had learned today.

Chris came down the carriages personally thanking everyone and asking if we needed any help or directions for the rest of our stay. We mentioned that we were going to the Christmas market at Potsdamer Platz but he said that one was quite commercialised and he recommended a Scandinavian one called Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulterbrauerei instead. It was a tram ride away but looking on my iPhone maps it looked relatively easy to get to. We thanked Chris and bit him farewell then got off the train at Friedrichstraße station.

Just outside the station was the tram stop we needed which was very handy.

Unfortunately the number 12 tram we needed had literally just pulled away and the next one wasn’t for another 25 minutes. To busy myself I popped over the road to a gift shop and got myself a Berlin magnet, standard!
The tram arrived bang on time. These were great, very clean and not busy at all and our ABC tickets we bought this morning covered the trams too. The journey took about 15-20 minutes, it was nice to see some other areas of Berlin.

Once we reached our destination I found us the way into the market using my Maps. I would be lost without these I really would!
Once inside we headed straight for the bar so Mum and H could finally get a glass of Gluwein! I don’t like red wine so just stuck to my Coke Zero.

From here we took a walk around the market. It was a lot bigger than I originally thought. Lots of food stalls interspersed with craft stalls. This had real local neighbourhood feel to it, I didn’t hear one English accent! There wasn’t really anything to buy but it was just lovely soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

Once we had finished our thoughts turned to food. It was only about 4.30 now but we hadn’t eaten properly since this morning. We didn’t fancy German again as lovely as it is it’s just too heavy. There were plenty of restaurants on the road we were on but spotted one called Rice Garden so went over to have a look at their menu. It was a Thai restaurant and looked just what we fancied. It was also very cheap too!

Wasn’t busy in there so got a table by the window. Again this seemed a real locals place. We ordered the standard glass of Pinot for mum and 2 Diet Cokes for H and I. For starters mum went with a bowl of soup whilst H and I shared some vegetable spring rolls, Satay chicken and pork dumplings. My god these were yummy! Gone in 60 seconds it felt like

For mains mum went with the 5 Spiced Duck with rice, H the Chicken Pad Thai with a mango salad and I had 5 miniature bowls of ginger chicken, lime chicken, peanut chicken, rice and noodles. These were between €1 and €3 a bowl, bargain!

This was all great too. Suitably stuffed we paid the very reasonable bill of €47 and waddled out. Just as we approached the tram stop the number 12 just pulled away. Again it was 25 mins to wait! I looked on my phone to see if there were any other options and as we wanted to go to the Christmas market in the Gendarmenmarkt we could get the U train from Eberswalder Station straight there. The station was literally 100 yards away and as soon as we got onto the platform our train arrived. The transport gods were once again on our side!
The journey took about 15-20 minutes and once we arrived at Hausvogteiplatz station the market was literally right in front of us.

It’s a €1 pp entry fee and they do a bag search at the door. It is an outside market but has huge areas that are indoors too which is great as was raining.
As it was so busy we each went off on our own agreeing to meet back up in 30 minutes at 6.30pm. Again a lovely market but nothing really took my fancy. The Christmas decs are so overpriced. A tiny little painted clay decoration, of which I would want at least 6 were €6 each! I did end up with a hand carved wooden tree decoration though.

Once we met back up we decided to get dessert here in the form of a waffle. H and I had both walked passed the same stall earlier and agreed they looked amazing. I had half caramel half Nutella on mine and H and mum had cinnamon sugar on there’s. These were €4.50 each.
We were now seriously aching and wanted to just get back to the hotel for a lie down!
Once back we did a bit of packing and H had a snooze then at about 8.30 H and I went down to the lobby bar to have a drink. Mum was quite happy reading with her feet up drinking a cup of herbal tea!
We got a sofa seat in the window and ordered the same as yesterday, Cosmopolitan for me and a Mojito for H. I also got a Diet Coke as I needed something to quench my thirst. These went down a treat
It was a lovely hour just nattering away. We are both very different as sisters go but we do get in very well as adults. I wanted to kill her as a child though

Once back in the room we finished packing as much as we could and I typed up the rest of my notes for today.
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Old 28 Dec 18, 01:46 PM  
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That was difficult to read. It must have been quite harrowing for you all in the concentration camp. It sounds like your guide was excellent.

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Old 4 Jan 19, 09:32 PM  
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a difficult read but thanks for posting
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Old 9 Jan 19, 10:14 PM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
That was difficult to read. It must have been quite harrowing for you all in the concentration camp. It sounds like your guide was excellent.
I think going in winter just added to the bleakness of the place, you couldn't begin to imagine what they had to go through in those freezing conditions. I would recommend anyone to go that's visiting Berlin but it's a lot to take in
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Old 9 Jan 19, 10:14 PM  
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Originally Posted by disney owl View Post
a difficult read but thanks for posting
Thank you for reading
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