The renovation of barracks 38 included the partial conservation of the damage caused by the fire. The room inside has been extended and now includes a cellar and damaged parts of the barracks have been conserved behind glass and made into an exhibit in the museum. They also mark the bridge between the restored old barracks and the new part.
The main theme of the exhibition is the life and the history of the persecution of Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen and this four part exhibition charts the anti-Semitic politics of the National Socialist regime and the increasing terror faced by the prisoners in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
The exhibition was designed by Prof. HG Merz and fully uses the space of the two storey barracks. The ground floor marks the beginning of the war and the following increase in the National Socialist persecution of the Jews.
The exhibition chronologically maps the years 1936 - 1945 and contains display cabinets which describe the historical events and constant refer to the lives of 23 ex-prisoners. The museum also displays relevant material and portrays the biographies of 74 ex-prisoners.
On display are photos, films, objects, drawings and documents on a space of around 200m², from the personal collections of ex-prisoners and visitors can listen to prisoners describing their lives on numerous recordings. It is this portrayal of a prisoner's individual experiences that gives depth to the factual information covering the National socialists' politics of persecution.
The beginnings: until the start of the war
(1936 - 1939)
The ground floor follows the history of some of the Jewish prisoners, which were imprisoned between 1936 and 1938 - the politically or socially persecuted - and includes those who fell victim to the 'Nuremberg Racial Laws'. It was during the November pogrom of 1938, that the first mass arrests solely due to racial or ideological reasons occurred. Prisoners from northern, central and eastern Germany, from Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and Frankfurt/Oder arrived in Sachsenhausen.
The start of the war until deportation
(1932 - 1942)
Since the 1 September 1939, the Jews were also the victims of continually worsening prison conditions and abuse. The camp SS carried out mass executions of Jewish prisoners and in 1942 the Jewish blocks were deported to Auschwitz.
Jewish prisoners as part of the specialist kommandos (1942 - 1945)
Between 1942 and 1945, as the National Socialists carried out the genocide of the European Jews in occupied eastern Europe, Sachsenhausen's Jewish prisoners were forced to work. At this time there were relatively few Jews left in the camp and those still remaining worked in specialist kommandos recycling the personal belongings, passports, shoes, clothes and valuables of the deported and murdered.
The direction of deportation is reversed (1944 - 1945)
With the foreseeable defeat of the German Reich, beginning with the middle of 1944 the direction of the transports changed. Thousands of Polish, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian Jews were transported directly from their home countries or the death camps, to the sub-camps of Sachsenhausen. Until the liberation in April and May 1945, the National Socialists sped up the extermination of the European Jews. Even in the last few week of the war, they murdered thousands, in the sub-camps, during the death marches and in Sachsenhausen's industry yard death camp.