Sachsenhausen national memorial

The site's authenticity is reduced and changed

After appeals from ex-prisoners, the central committee of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED), resolved to build three national memorial sites; Buchenwald, Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen, and political reasons lead the memorial near to Weimar to be prioritised. In contrast to the views of Communist ex-prisoners, which wanted to ensure the entire complex of Sachsenhausen concentration camp as well as the old SS buildings be included in the memorial, a board of trustees appointed by the SED leadership, reduced the size of the memorial to the triangular protective custody camp (Schutzhaftlager). This meant that the special camp for allied officers and V.I.Ps, the industry yard, the brickworks death camp next to the Hohenzollern canal as well as the SS's barracks and most importantly of all, the 'T-building', were all excluded from the memorial.

Moving the camp wall meant that parts of 'Station Z', a number of graves from prisoners which had been shot, as well as parts of the old industry yard were integrated into the memorial. This gave the historically false impression, that the barracks and the places where the prisoners were killed were much closer to each other than was the case. A new entrance had to be built for Sachsenhausen, because the NVA were using the old SS camp.

In spring 1955, the board of trustees called for donations to construct a national memorial and within a few months they had already collected two million marks. Reinhold Linger, a landscape architect, was commissioned with the work of planning the memorial. Linger, speaking of the remaining prisoner barracks, advocated that "these repulsive, ugly purpose-built buildings, with which so much suffering, scandal and horror is connected, [should be replaced] by a commemoration area which is indisputably art." The commemoration area was to be shielded by a six meter high wall, to be built from 'Tower A' - the central entrance of the old protective custody camp. Ligner's plans were discarded, but some of his ideas were integrated into the planning of the memorial. In 1956, the architects Ludwig Deiters, Horst Kutzat and Kurt Tausendschön took on the planning of Sachsenhausen. All three had already been part of the planning teams in Buchenwald and Ravensbrück. After they had travelled to similar sites in Poland and West Germany, they came to the decision that "to entirely overcome the SS regime ... it is necessary to clear away the remains and to undertake a systematic redesigning of the memorial sites on Germany territory".

This idea of a 'pre-eminence of the artistic form' (Überlegenheit der künstlerischen Darstellung) lead the planners to purposely change the form of the original concentration camp's symmetry. 'Tower A' was placed as a reference point on the central axis opposite a large obelisk and a red triangle was mounted on the obelisk to reminded visitors of the patch worn by political prisoners. Renè Graetz's sculpture, 'Liberation' was placed in front of the tower and the obelisk was surrounded by grass, this went on to provide the backdrop for huge rallies.

More informations:

Sachsenhausen national memorial
Remembrance without authenticity
The site's authenticity is reduced and changed
The state opening
The one-sided historical perspective