Sunday, July 12, 2015

Flossenbürg Concentration Camp

About 40 minutes away from me there is a Concentration Camp. Or at least what is left of one. Flossenbürg Concentration Camp, or Konzentrationslager Flossenbürg as it's known in German was a Nazi concentration camp built in May 1938 by the Schutzstaffel (SS) Economic-Administrative Main Office at Flossenbürg, in the Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria, Germany, near the border with Czechoslovakia. Before World War II, Flossenbürg was a men's camp primarily for "antisocial" or "criminal" prisoners. The camp's site was chosen so that the inmates could be used as slave labor to quarry the granite found in the nearby hills.
During World War II, most of the inmates sent to Flossenbürg, or to one of about 100 sub-camps, came from the German-occupied eastern territories. The inmates in Flossenbürg were housed in 16 huge wooden barracks, its crematorium was built in a valley straight outside the camp.
I had no idea how close this concentration camp was. 

Since my brothers are visiting one of the things they wanted to see was a concentration camp. I knew all about Auschwitz, and I knew about Dachau, but I didn't want to make the drive to either, especially since I couldn't bring Rylie. One of the teachers I work with told me about Flossenbürg and how he liked it better than Dachau. I plugged the address into my GPS and we were off. 
Once we arrived at the address I wasn't sure if we were in the right place. The only reason I knew where we were was because I recognized the building from Google Maps. When you get there it honestly looks like there is nothing there besides houses and buildings. It actually blew our minds that there were homes within spitting distance of the grounds!

Education Center/Cafe

So we started walking, we noticed a couple tour groups. I thought Flossenbürg was going to be like Auschwitz, where you pay to go in and get a tour guide, but it wasn't. You actually don't have to get a tour guide. I like it that way better anyways. It was free to walk around, if you want to get a tour guide you can, but the tour is only in German. There are a lot of signs through the camp, that are in both English and German.
"Kitchen", Can you see the houses in the background?

There are only 2 buildings left of Flossenbürg, the Kitchen and Laundry Center, these buildings have been turned into exhibitions. In the "Kitchen" you can see what remains of the Camp. It's a surreal experience. You see documents and hear stories about the survivors and those who didn't survive. The Wash Area is turned into a Memorial to the Concentration Camp.

A survivor kept his # and put it on his license plate!


"What Remains?"
I felt like the most moving part of the Camp was the grounds. There are graves and memorial stones. Walking around the site you can see the watch guard tower, the crematorium and you can see where the old buildings were.


 The Crematorium

 Steps leading to the crematorium

Where they kept Soviet prisioner
Took a picture of them taking a picture. Haha
Flossenbürg didn't give me as much chills that Auschwitz did, but I still felt weird being there. Too much bad ju-ju for my liking.
I always feel a little bit more grateful for everything I have after visiting a concentration camp. If you have the opportunity, I would strongly suggest visiting. Inexcusable things happened here more than 70 years ago. I feel like we have to remember these things so that they never happen again.