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Sachsenhausen

it’s an ex concentration camp at the end of the S1 bahn. but it is hidden within a small town and surrounded by forest. the memorial and information centres are like memorials and information centres everywhere; sombre concrete panels and slabs, whiteness, simplicity. the dirt and the bones are long gone, is that a bench or a memorial? everyone has a camera but there’s really nothing to see and no one makes a sound.
the grounds extended further, taking in adjacent police academy (previously SS facilities) and beyond, but now has been cropped back to the distinctive triangle, full of emptiness. and the trees and wild flowers moving in to fill the void. by accident i approached from the forest instead of from the road and for a moment i thought that the entry marker was a concrete pillar in the trees. of course it wasn’t, the entrance is a gate decorated by  arbeit macht frei.
beyond the horror which delivered people here, it is their survival which i find most difficult to comprehend. i have already forgotten the crux of Viktor Frankl’s search for meaning, and obviously forgetfulness is everywhere in the vacant space of a past death camp, which is why we are shocked over and over again.
the plan, triangular and with a radial array of rectangular barracks is so graphically affecting. that simplistic and mechanistic contempt for humanity is the basis of artist Ulrich Wagner’s fold out Ground Plans of Concentration Camps:

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