When visiting Germany with a goal of seeing historical World War II sites, the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site near Oranienburg, just outside of Berlin, is one of the camp memorials you may consider. While one of the most important concentration camps to Nazi Germany, Sachsenhausen was a camp for political prisoners, not an extermination camp like Auschwitz. The site is large and the stories manifold, so it is worth it to take an organized tour.
The highly-recommended Mosaic Tours is a company which exclusively organizes non-profit tours to the memorial, donating their proceeds to Amnesty International and the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation.
Mosaic Tour Guides
You can expect your tour guide to be highly professional, personally committed, and respectful of the subject matter. They will also make sure you have everything you need before the tour starts, from train tickets to water and snacks (you can’t buy anything at the memorial site) to an umbrella, in case it rains.
If you have never navigated Berlin’s train and public transportation system, this tour is perfect for you—your guide will make sure you arrive safe and sound in the little town of Oranienburg, just outside of Berlin. Even before you set foot on the memorial site, your guide will be able to provide lots of useful information, from what to expect to thorough historical overviews of the Third Reich.
From the train station in Oranienburg, you will walk to the camp using the exact path former prisoners had to walk. Another interesting fact that could be easily overlooked: The houses right outside the walls of the camp were erected at the same time the camp was built; high ranking SS officers and their families lived here.
Today, these historic homes are again inhabited and used as family homes.
The tour was fast-paced and covered most of the memorial grounds, but there was also time and space to explore the on-site museums on our own. There was always room for questions and discussions, and Russell was happy to answer even when we were sitting on the train back to Berlin.
History of Sachsenhausen
The tour mixes historical facts with personal stories of inmates and lasts about 6-7 hours (including transportation time), yet feels fast-paced. With a tour guide, your tour will cover much more than the audio guides which you can get at the Sachsenhausen Visitor Center. You will be able to see the majority of the memorial site's grounds as well as the on-site museums and you can learn a lot about the different uses of Sachsenhausen. The memorial site demonstrates how different governments left their political imprint on the camp.
First and foremost, it was used as a concentration camp by the Nazis; after the camp was liberated on April 22, 1945, by Soviet and Polish troops, the Soviets used the site and its structures as an internment camp for political prisoners from fall of 1945 to 1950. In 1961, the Sachsenhausen National Memorial was opened in the GDR.
During this time, the East German authorities destroyed many of the original structures and used the site to promote their own communist ideology.
Joining a Tour
Visit the Mosaic Tours website for the most up-to-date tour schedules and fees. An ABC zone metro ticket is required for the train to /from the Memorial. These can be purchased at the station or through the BVG app. Note that the Memorial Foundation requests an additional €1.20 donation per person from tour group participants, which will be collected at the memorial.
No reservations are necessary to join a Mosaic tour, just show up at the meeting point: Alexanderplatz between TV Tower and S-and U-Bahn Train Station.