Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
The three major camps in the Nazi concentration camp system in Germany were Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp in the state of Bavaria. Located just outside Munich, it was opened on March 22, 1933, less than two months after Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany.
Also in 1933, another camp was opened in an old brewery at Oranienburg, 35 kilometers north of Berlin. The Oranienburg camp was rebuilt in 1936 and named Sachsenhausen. Buchenwald was built just outside the city of Weimar in 1937, and its first prisoners were transferred there from Sachsenhausen.
All three of these camps were built to imprison the opponents of Fascism and all three were located in areas which were hotbeds of Communist and Social Democrat political activity. The German state of Bavaria was taken over by Communist revolutionaries on November 7, 1918, just four days before the Armistice which ended World War I was signed on November 11, 1918.
Berlin was the site of the "November Revolution" in 1918 when the Social Democrats toppled the imperial government of Germany and proclaimed a Republic on November 9, 1918. Weimar is where the Social Democrats wrote the constitution for their newly proclaimed Republic; the city is only 20 miles from Gotha, the birthplace of the Social Democrat political party. Weimar is also the birthplace of the liberal Bauhaus movement of modern art and architecture, which was the direct opposite of the Nazi ideal of classic art, literature, music and architecture.
In 1936 when the Nazis remodeled the Oranienburg camp, which then became Sachsenhausen, the Jews were being persecuted relentlessly and pressured to leave Germany, but no Jews were being sent to any of the concentration camps unless they were political dissidents, trade union organizers, asocials, vagrants, criminals, or race mixers and homosexuals who had broken the law.
Rudolf Höss, who came to Sachsenhausen as adjutant on August 1, 1938, wrote in his autobiography:
As an old-time member of the Nazi party, I believed in the need for concentration camps. The real ENEMIES OF THE STATE had to be put away safely; the asocials and the professional criminals who could not be locked up under the prevailing laws had to lose their freedom in order to protect the people from their destructive behavior.
This is the same Rudolf Höss who later became the first Commandant of Auschwitz in May 1940; he was convicted of mass murder in a trial in Poland after the war. After his last wish for a cup of coffee was granted, Höss was hanged in front of the reconstructed gas chamber in Auschwitz in April 1947.
When construction started on the new Sachsenhausen camp in the summer of 1936, Nazi Germany was the envy of the Western world. From the depths of the Great Depression in 1932, Hitler had achieved an "economic miracle" in Germany in less than three years. As yet, there was no sign of Nazi aggression, nor any attempt at world domination by Germany. Gertrude Stein, the famous Jewish writer who was a mentor to Ernest Hemingway, even suggested in 1937 that Hitler should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Because of the Nazi program of nationalism, the German people had regained their self respect after the humiliating Treaty of Versailles, which Germany was forced to sign at the end of World War I. They now had great pride in their ethnicity and their country. No people in the world were more patriotic than the Germans in 1936 and no other world leader had the total dedication to his country that Adolph Hitler had.
The ordinary Germans were satisfied with their lives and had no reason to fear the concentration camps or the Gestapo. Hitler was a hero to the 127 million ethnic Germans throughout Europe, whom he wanted to unite into the Greater German Empire, a dream that had been discussed in his native Austria for over 50 years. In less than four years, this dream would be accomplished when Austria, parts of Poland that had formerly been German territory, Luxembourg, the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and the Sudetenland were combined with Germany to form the Greater German Reich.
In 1936, Hitler was more loved and admired than all the other world leaders put together. He was also the only world leader who was actively helping the Zionists with their plan to reclaim Palestine as their country.
While America and the rest of Europe were still in the depths of the depression caused by the stock market crash in October 1929, Germany had stabilized its economy and had virtually eliminated unemployment. Unlike the other countries in Europe in 1936, Nazi Germany was doing well, thanks in part to American investment capital. Many American businessmen, led by auto maker Henry Ford, supported Hitler and his Fascist form of government. Other prominent Americans who supported Hitler included Joseph P. Kennedy (the father of President John F. Kennedy), and Prescott Bush (the grandfather of President George W. Bush) and Charles Lindbergh.
Meanwhile, the American government was drifting to the liberal left; Communist refugees like playwright Bertold Brecht and Jewish refugees like Albert Einstein were flocking to America and their influence was strong in American politics. In the 1936 presidential election in America, Al Smith, who had run as the Democratic candidate in 1928 against Herbert Hoover, accused fellow Democrat President Roosevelt of being a Communist.
Hitler had thumbed his nose at the Versailles Treaty by stopping the payment of reparations to France and Great Britain, and a massive program of industrialization had restored the country to full employment, compared to the 20% unemployment in America in 1936. Roosevelt had copied many of the social welfare programs in Germany, including Social Security, but America was still struggling to recover from the depression.
The workers in Nazi Germany enjoyed unprecedented social benefits such as paid vacations under the Strength Through Joy program (Kraft durch Freude). Factory workers listened to classical music as they worked, and took showers before going home. In order to demonstrate their importance to the country, workers were allowed to march in Nazi parades, carrying shovels on their shoulders just like the soldiers who marched with their rifles.
Everything in Nazi Germany was clean and orderly; there were no slums; the trains ran on time. By 1938, the crime rate was at an all-time low because repeat offenders were being sent to a concentration camp after they had completed their second sentence. Anyone who did not have a permanent address and some visible means of support was hauled off the Dachau and put to work.
The political parties of the opposition (Communists and Social Democrats) had been banned in Germany; political dissidents were being locked up; there was no more bomb throwing or revolutionary fighting in the streets. There were no more crippling general strikes because the trade unions had been banned to prevent the Communists from organizing the workers.
A healthy lifestyle was encouraged by the Nazis and group calisthenics for young people were compulsory. Family values were the order of the day: abortion was banned; homosexuals and prostitutes were imprisoned; women were encouraged to be homemakers, and mothers with four or more children would shortly be awarded military style medals for serving their country.
It was safe to walk the city streets in Germany at night; no bars were needed on the windows of German homes to keep the criminal element out; all the social misfits were being sent away to the concentration camps; bums and vagrants were no longer allowed to beg on the streets. Money that had formerly been spent to care for institutionalized persons with mental and physical disabilities was now being used for other purposes as the mentally ill and the severely disabled were being put to death in gas chambers.
The single-minded Nazis were attempting to achieve a perfect world like Disneyland's Main Street which ends at a replica of Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle; their advanced technology was the Tomorrowland of its day. Fifty years later, the backlash from their ideology of racialism and nationalism was the impetus for the creation of today's Politically Correct world of diversity and tolerance, which is the exact opposite of Nazi Germany.
The Nuremberg laws, enacted in 1935, stripped the Jews of their citizenship and made it a crime for Jews to have sexual intercourse with Germans. Jews were excluded from many jobs and government positions, and they were not allowed to ride on street cars or sit on park benches reserved for Aryans. The rest of the world, particularly Americans, ignored these early warnings; at that time America was a segregated country with institutionalized racism, and there were many restricted neighborhoods where Jews were not allowed to buy a home. American universities had quotas for Jewish students and numerous clubs and organizations did not allow Jews as members. While the Nazi racists were encouraging 300,000 Jews to leave Germany in the 1930ies, the American government was handing a one-way ticket to Mexico to 500,000 Mexican immigrants and Mexican-American citizens during the same time period.
Ever since the leftist revolutions, led by the Jews in Russia and Germany, had brought an end to World War I, the world had been polarized by Communism and Fascism. The first hint that a second world war was soon going to be fought over the conflicting ideologies of Communism and Fascism came in July 1936 with the Spanish Civil War which started when General Francisco Franco led a military revolt against the leftist Republic. Hitler and Mussolini gave their support to Franco, while Roosevelt and the leftist French leader supported the Communist side. The battle lines for World War II were already drawn in 1936 when Nazi Germany formed the Axis Alliance with Mussolini's Fascist Italy and imperial Japan. In his book Mein Kampf, written while he was imprisoned for treason in 1924, Hitler had already predicted future problems between Japan and the United States.
The Treaty of Versailles included a provision for establishing the League of Nations, which consisted of the Allied countries and any neutral countries that wanted to join. Not until years later was Germany allowed to join. The purpose of the League, which America did not join after Congress voted against it, was to prevent future wars. The League was a forerunner of the United Nations which was formed in May 1945, shortly before the end of the second World War.
Germany was eventually allowed to join the League of Nations in 1926 after the country had been politically rehabilitated, but Hitler had withdrawn from it because the main objective of the Nazi party was to overturn the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1931, the rules of the League of Nations were violated for the first time when Japan invaded China, another member of the League. When the other nations in the League did nothing, this signaled to the world that the Treaty of Versailles could be violated with impunity and this set the stage for Hitler to disregard its terms. By 1936, Hitler had already violated the Treaty by stopping the payment of reparations and by building up an army of 400,00 men, which was considerably larger than the 100,000 soldiers that the Treaty allowed.
Hitler had also put troops into the demilitarized Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles; then he took back the Ruhr after France had annexed this German territory when Germany was unable to pay reparations after its economy had collapsed a decade earlier.
America had signed a separate peace treaty with Germany after World War I because the American Congress refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, so America was in no position to stop Hitler once he started on his path to German hegemony, as world domination by one super power, such as the United States, is now called.
In August 1936, the Olympic games were being held in Berlin, and the Nazis had removed all the bums, winos and male prostitutes from the streets, sending them to Dachau or Sachsenhausen for six months of rehabilitation. Then in a concession to the liberals in America, Great Britain and France, who were threatening to boycott the games, the anti-Semitic signs and slogans on the city streets were temporarily removed and the anti-Jewish newspapers were taken off the stands. Two token Jews were even allowed to train for the Olympics on the German team, and a Jew, Captain Wolfgang Fürstner, was put in charge of the Olympic Village. Fürstner killed himself after he was replaced at the last minute.
The Germans won the most medals for first place, second place and third place in the 1936 Olympics, defeating the second-place Americans by a wide margin of 57 points. The story about Hitler refusing to acknowledge a victory by Jesse Owens was incorrect, according to noted historian John Toland, who wrote:
That the Führer publicly turned his back on the great black athlete was denied by Owens himself, who further claimed that Hitler did pay him a tribute. "When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany."
Charles Lindbergh, who was America's greatest hero after flying solo to Europe, was the special guest of Hitler at the Olympics and sat beside him at the games. Lindbergh had by then moved to England in an effort to get away from the rampant crime in America. He was so impressed with Germany's right-wing Utopia that, by 1938, he was making plans to move there and Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer, had been commissioned to design a house for him. He quickly changed his mind in November 1938 after Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored pogrom in Germany, in which the windows of Jewish businesses were smashed and Synagogues were burned. Newspapers around the world played up the story with banner headlines. Kristallnacht marked the end of Hitler's popularity and the Western world's admiration for Germany. Time magazine selected Stalin, the Communist leader of the Soviet Union, for its Man of the Year award in 1939.
During the two days of rioting during the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany and Austria, on Nov. 9th and 10th in 1938, Nazi officials went to all the small towns in Germany and ordered the Jews to leave within 24 hours or be sent to a concentration camp. This was a plan to consolidate all the Jews in a few large cities. Those who were unable to leave, or refused to leave, were rounded up in the following days and sent to the three main concentration camps: Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. There were 30,000 Jews in all who were arrested, and around 10,000 were sent to each of these three main camps. They were released within a few weeks if they paid a fine and promised to leave Germany within six months. There were few countries willing to accept them, so the majority wound up in Shanghai which was the only place they could enter without a visa.
In July 1938, President Roosevelt sponsored a conference at which the countries of the Western world met to decide what to do about the problem of thousands of German Jewish refugees, but no country was willing to change its immigration quotas, including the United States of America. A few of the Jewish prisoners were unable to pay the fine or to raise enough money to leave the country; in 1942, they were all transferred from the concentration camps in Germany to the death camps in what is now Poland where the majority of them died in the Holocaust.
Hitler had predicted that his Third Reich would last for 1,000 years, but it came crashing down after only 12 years, and the image of Germany as the most cultured and advanced civilization in the modern world has been replaced by one of brutality and racism as Germany has become the most hated and reviled country in the world in the post-war Politically Correct era.