One thing that really shocked me when I visited Sachsenhausen was the size of the camp and the fact that it was less than a hundred years ago.
In many of these places in Berlin (like the wall, Sachsenhausen, checkpoint Charlie, etc.) it’s crazy to think that, not too long ago, people were standing in these exact spots being shot at, being tortured, etc. It is actually really hard to wrap your head around that. Many times when we talk about history, we learn about things and say to ourselves, “right, I knew that that happened, but it’s just history,” but with Sachsenhausen and history like this, it happened so recently that it’s barely even history.
The other thing that shocked me as well, is that there are people who try to destroy places like Sachsenhausen because they don’t want to admit that these terrible acts were wrong. We learned that in 1992, a group of individuals climbed the walls of Sachsenhausen to sneak in and burn down the Barack’s that had been reconstructed to commemorate the Jewish people that lived there. They wanted to show that they still did not support the country recognizing they were wrong and wanted to show that they still did not think Jews deserved the same sort of respect as any other people. Now, I am not saying that it is just a select few amount of Germans who are bad people. In every country and culture, there are still people who do wrong things. But my point is is that we recognize that these terrible things have happened in history, but it doesn’t mean that more terrible things won’t happen. We have to always be aware of ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with, and be sure that we don’t end up on the wrong side of history.