On 23 April 1961, over 100,000 people came to the opening of the Sachsenhausen national memorial. The Eichmann case was ongoing in Israel, there was a growing refugees movement from within the GDR and it was only months after the building of the wall isolating East Germany from the west. The GDR's leadership used the opening of the memorial to demonstrate the state's commitment to anti-Fascism to its own population but also to the people of West Germany. Sachsenhausen was already the third concentration camp memorial on the GDR's territory, whereas Dachau, West Germany's first memorial, was not to be opened until 1965. The West German media hardly even mentioned the opening of Sachsenhausen and if they did so, they compared the victims of the concentration camps with those of the Soviet special camps.
By 1953 at the latest, with the banning of the 'Vereinigung der Verfolgten
des Nazi-Regimes' (the association of people persecuted by the Nazi regime), the
official form of remembrance had become routine and the leadership of the SED
exploited the relatively widespread anti-Fascist alliance during the beginnings
of the GDR, during the cold war and the partition of Germany for its own
political and ideological agenda.