Special Camp No. 2 Museum

Low white building is the museum for Special Camp No. 2

The photograph above shows the Museum which was built in 1995 at the Buchenwald Memorial Site to house an exhibition about Special Camp Number 2; the museum opened in 1997. This photograph was taken from a road which is outside the former prison enclosure at Buchenwald. In the foreground you can see two reconstructed fence posts for the barbed wire fence which ran around the Buchenwald camp, and in the background, the red-roofed storehouse building which houses the much larger Buchenwald museum in honor of the Communist who were imprisoned by the Nazis.

The Special Camp No. 2 museum building was built into the hillside so that the roof is level with the ground, as the picture below shows. In the foreground you can see the ruins of one of the camp buildings, and in the background the gray roof of the museum building which is level with the grass behind it. Except for the roof, the museum is not visible from inside the camp; you have to follow the road that runs around the outside of the camp to find it.

Flat roof of museum in background with ruins in foreground

Student visitors walk back from museum to main part of camp

Although the museum was designed by the Germans after the fall of Communism, it shows a decided Communist influence. The interior is done in various shades of gray with steel shelves that look appropriate for an industrial exhibit in a factory. As soon as you walk in the door, you see a set of steel shelves right in front of you. There is no wasted space for a reception area, and no attendant on duty. The picture below shows the view from the front door. A student is sitting in front of one of the displays, copying down information. I observed that the student visitors to this museum were very serious and paying close attention to the information presented. There are computers available for research, but when I was there, the information was only available in the German language.

Interior of museum taken from the front door

Very little of the Buchenwald camp was preserved after the German prisoners were released. Most of the buildings were torn down. Only a few artifacts were found to be put into the museum. Everything on display looks as though it was dug out of the ruins after the destruction of the camp. It also shows how desperately deprived the prisoners were. There are bits of combs and carved wooden spoons.

There is also a Russian uniform and rifle on display. A big part of the display is the Communist propaganda posters which are arranged in booths along the walls, as shown in the photo below. The second photo below shows a propaganda poster of Stalin with a caption saying that Stalin is the best friend of the German people. The overall impression that I got from the propaganda displayed at both Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen is that the Communists must have thought that we had just fallen off the turnip truck, and weren't sophisticated enough to be able to discern the truth.

Communist propaganda posters in booths along the walls

J.W. Stalin, the best friend of the German people

Booths along the wall for Communist posters and computers

The exhibits are divided into four sections: 1. The Soviet Special Camps and the end of the war. 2. Structures and function of Buchenwald Special Camp. 3. Life and Death in Buchenwald Special Camp and 4. The End of the Special Camps.

Biographical information about some of the victims is displayed in glass-topped steel cases, as shown in the picture below. One of the inmates was a German movie star whose pictures show how her beauty deteriorated in the camp. Below the glass is a series of pull out trays with more pictures and text. The whole setup is designed for efficiency and maximum use of space. The museum is not what you would call lavish. It is like a poor man's version of the glitzy Buchenwald museum for the Communist victims of the Nazis. The rule of warfare is that the winners get to write the history; the winners also get to build the biggest monuments and the best museums.

Steel and glass display cases have biographies of the victims