Oranienburg Things to Do

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  • Things to Do
    by alancollins
  • Things to Do
    by alancollins

Most Recent Things to Do in Oranienburg

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    White City Housing Estate

    by alancollins Written Dec 21, 2013

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    Between 1936 & 1937 the Heinkel Aircraft Company built a new factory and works in Oranienburg. It was anticipated that it would employ up to 10.000 people with a large number being skilled worker. To house some of these skill workers a new housing estate was also built called White City which provided subsidised. It was planned to build 18 residential blocks with 662 apartments and other blocks were added later on. After the end of the war the Soviet Army took over the estate as barracks and the area was bricked up to deny access to the public. This lasted until 1994 when the Soviet Army moved out and the estate was handed back. Since then there has been extensive renovation work carried out to the buildings making it an attractive area.

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    From the Railway Station to the Camp

    by alancollins Written Jul 3, 2013

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    The old sidings
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    During a recent visit to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp I spent some time looking at a book in English regarding the construction of the camp. I always thought that the prisoners arrived at the main railway station in Orainenburg and were then marched to the camp. But whilst flicking through the pages I realised that the street names of the route the prisoners took to the camp did not add up. So I suspected that another railway station, close by to the camp was used. So working on a hunch and walking around the area I discovered that the station was Sachsenhausen (Nordb). The small station is still in use today and there is an information post which recounts a short history of the station and a personal account of someone witnessing the maltreatment of the prisoners.
    The prisoners arrived in cattle trucks and the train was shunted into a siding. Because of the appalling conditions on the journey some prisoners were already dead. The others were left weak and often fell from the cattle trucks. The prisoners were lined up to be marched to the camp and roads closed in an attempt to hid what was going on. The route took them along Friedlandstrasse now Walter-Rathenau Strasse and then down the eastern side of the camp. The prisoners were beaten on route and those that fell were immediately shot. Houses had been built for SS Officers on Friedlandstrasse in the 1930s but local families also lived on the same street and they could not miss what was going on.

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    Werkflugplatz Oranienburg

    by alancollins Updated May 16, 2013

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    Main Hanger
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    On the outskirts of Oranienburg is a disused airfield which was the Heinkel Flugzeugwerke. Completed in 1937 it was used by Ernst Heinkel to test hundreds of fighters and bombers during WW2 including jet powered aircraft. Because a large number of people were employed at the works, a housing estate was built for the workers called White City which still exists today. Prisoners from Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp were used as unpaid labour in increasing numbers as the war went on, to construct aircraft parts. It was in fact the largest satellite camp of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and the inmates were mainly deployed working on the He 177 bomber. At its peak in 1943 over 14,000 were working there. The airfield was heavily bombed at least twice during WW2. After the war the Soviets took away anything of use but left the main hanger. It was used by the Soviet to fly various types of aircraft until 1994. Since then the airfield has been cut in half by the construction of the B96 road and the buildings have been left to deteriorate by the weather, vandals and the dumping of rubbish. On one of the days I visited there was a large party of people using a dog school to train their dogs
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    The Green Monster

    by alancollins Updated May 16, 2013

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    Entrance to the Green Monster
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    As you walk along the original camp drive from the Visitors’ Centre to the entrance of the camp you can see on the right a green wooden building. The building was built in 1937 by the prisoners and was later called the green monster or the casino. It stood on the central axis with the main camp. It had a concrete basement and the wooden building was only meant to be a temporary structure before a permanent construction. It was used by SS Guards as a canteen or as the main place to socialise but not to gamble. Inmates from the camp who were known as 'Schwung' or move-on, were used to serve the SS guards. This was just one building of a much larger training camp where the SS Guards learnt their sadistic trade. The building was used by the Soviets after the war followed by the GDR People's Police and then the National People's Army. The building was abandoned in the 1980's and was left to the elements to fall down. Recently the situation has changed and the building is being renovated to preserve it but no access will be allowed to visitors when the work is complete. The work has now been completed and the fence removed so you can have a close up view of the building.

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    Work makes (one) free

    by alancollins Updated May 16, 2013

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    Works set you free

    ‘Arbeit macht frei’, ‘Work makes (one) free’. A slogan used by the Nazis at some of their concentration camps including Sachsenhausen, normally set into the gates. The slogam was first used at the original camp in Orainenburg and was ordered put up by Theodor Eicke. Under the Nazis it did not matter how hard you worked it certainly was not a way out of the concentration camps. It was meant as a spirital freedom through endless work.

    The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was liberated by a unit of the 47th Soviet Army and Polish Forces on April 22nd, 1945. The Soviet soldiers found only 3,000 survivors in the camp. This number included 1,400 women. Most of them were starving, ill and too weak to welcome their liberators. Like in several other camps, and despite of the medical cares they received, many inmates died in the days following the liberation.

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    Visitors Centre

    by alancollins Updated May 16, 2013

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    The new visitors information centre was opened in 2004 in former workshops that were used for the maintenance of weapons. I would recommend paying it a visit to obtain guide books, leaflets and audio aids. Unfortunately it must have been a bad day for the staff when I visited as the reception was slightly icy. The site is open daily from 0830-1800 between 15th March until 14th October and daily from 0830-1630 between 15th October until 14th March. The visitor centre & toilets, book shop, cinema and cafes are the only buildings open on Mondays.
    Outside of the visitor's centre is a model of camp. To the left of centre is the triangle shape of the camp which forms only a small part of the total area of the whole camp.

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    Soviet Cemetery and Memorial

    by alancollins Updated Feb 8, 2013

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    This is one of the small Soviet Cemetries and memorials that you see around Brandenburg and Berlin. It is close to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp but it is largely unknown to most visitors because it is not on the route to the camp. There is now a small information board outside the cemetery.

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    GDR National Memorial

    by alancollins Updated Feb 8, 2013

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    GDR National Memorial
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    The monument that dominates Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is the GDR’s National Memorial right in the centre of the camp. It stands some 40 metres high and the 3 sides of the monument have red triangles. The Nazis used different symbols, mainly triangles, letters and colours to identify prisoners in their concentration camps. A red triangle donated a political prisoner, social democrat, freemason or anarchist. It is believed red was chosen as it was a colour used by communists and the most hated political group of the Nazis. Until a couple of years ago there was a wall which marked out where some of the barracks stood and the boot testing track. This has now been demolished. It has been suggested that the reason for this was to stop your eyes been drawn through the gap towards the monument and to reduce its impact.

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    Operation Bernhard-Barracks 18 & 19

    by alancollins Updated Feb 8, 2013

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    Location of Barracks 18
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    Operation Bernhard, named after SS Major Bernhard Krüger was an attempt by the Nazis to destabilise the currencies of the UK and USA during WW2. During the autumn of 1942 a small number of Jewish prisoners and printing equipment were moved into Barracks 19 at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp to work in isolation from the rest of the camp. This was gradually increased and Barracks 18 was also included in the operation so that 2 years later there were about 140 prisoners working on counterfeiting £5 notes. The prisoners were isolated from the rest of the camp by fencing and painted out windows on the buildings. £134,000,000 (worth 3 billion today) of counterfeit notes were produced and work started on trying to counterfeit US dollar notes. Other items such as stamps and travel documents were also produced. The prisoners were not treated as harshly as the other inmates due to the nature of their special skills and the majority survived the war. The prisoners were allowed to wear their own clothes and grow their hair. The barracks were heated and thy received larger portions of food. The prisoners had to work 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week, early in 1944 a night shift was also introduced. The secret was kept for many years but has emerged in recent years with books and the Oscar winning film ‘The Counterfeiters’. Unlike the film the prisoners were told to pack everything up in February 1945 and were moved to Austria. There is a small exhibition in the old laundry, building 21.
    Photos from exhibition

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    Lehnitzsee

    by alancollins Written Aug 4, 2012

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    On my return trip from the Brickworks to the railway station I decided I would take a different route by walking by the Lehnitz Lake. There is a well laid out footpath which is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Besides the beauty of the lake ever so often there are information boards about the flora and fauna. There are some places to sit and take in the view and have a rest. I used Dr Heinrich-Byk-Strasse, as it has a tunnel to get to the other side of the railway tracks and return to the station.

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    Information on the Klinkerwerk

    by alancollins Updated Aug 3, 2012

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    Information on the walls
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    If you continue walking past the Klinkerwerk Camp with the Hohenzollern Canal on your left you will eventually come to this site. It has a number of plain walls that have a complete history of the Klinkerwerk. It is nothing spectacular but this may improve when the historical park is complete. The cladding stones that were made at the brick works were going to be used in the construction of buildings for the new Germania. At the same site you can see the railway bridge over the Hohenzollern Canal, constructed for the transportation of materials and the Harbour used for the same purpose and the present brick works. THIS SITE HAS NOW BEEN DEMOLISHED HAVING BEEN SUPERSEDED BY THE NEW INFORMATION COLUMNS. There is now a new information column by the harbour.

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    The new exhibition at the Klinkerwerks

    by alancollins Written Aug 3, 2012

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    Layout of the Brickworks
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    I last visited the Klinkerwerks on 07 November 2011 when I returned on 17 July 2012 there had been a number of changes. On 04 December 2011 a ceremony took place to open a new exhibition at the Brickworks by the deputy mayor who was joined by some former prisoners of the camp. The permanent exhibition consists of 16, 2 x 1 m glass columns that are located close to the former shooting range. There is also a steel walkway and a 2 x 3m concrete model of the former Brickworks. At 4 other locations which are the Bread Factory, Prison Camp, Harbour and the Stone Processing Factory there are similar information boards. The project which was hastily erected soon after my last visit cost € 293,000. The previous 3 brick walls which displayed the information have been demolished. There is no information as to when the Historical Park will be completed. The problem this site has always suffered is its location right on the edge of Oranienburg making it is a 2.5km walk from the main camp plus it has an infrequent bus service. A further problem is the lack of information concerning this camp which most visitors do not realise exists close by to the main camp.

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    Remains of the large shed

    by alancollins Written Feb 26, 2012

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    At one stage the brickworks was the largest in the world. The bricks and facing stones were going to be needed for the new capital of the world Germania after the end of the war. As the war went on it was decided to use the furnaces to anneal grenades. On 10 April 1945 an allied bombing raid destroyed most of the camp including the large shed used for making bricks and approximately 200 prisoners were killed, their remains being left in the bomb craters. After the end of the war the Soviets carried off anything of use and demolished the damaged buildings. But as always if you knock something down and do not construct anything in its place you can still evidence of the old building.

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    Shooting Range at the Klinkerwerk

    by alancollins Updated Feb 26, 2012

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    Sand trap to prevent ricochets
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    The Klinkerwerks or Brickworks is one of those forgotten Satellite Camps of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. There is only a small memorial which has been erected by the main road and the start of the road to the camp and very few people have the time to try and find this out of way place. The memorial was erected at this location in 1977 because at the time the camp was still a protected area. There is very little left of the camp, which has been fenced off, but like a lot of these places there are holes in the fence if you look for them. Wandering around the old camp is only for the foolhardy like myself though there does appears to be little in the way of danger. Though this is a historical site there are plans to change the area into memorial gardens and park.
    The land was originally used in 1935 to dump the spoil from the nearby construction of the Lehnitz Lock. In 1936 the SS were look for a range to shoot weapons and a 300 metre range was constructed and completed in 1938. Some of this can still be seen today. The construction work was carried out by inmates of the close by Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The SS being the monsters they were use to chase prisoners and shoot at them. After the end of WW2 the firing range was used by National People’s Army and then by the Brandenburg State Police before it was closed down in1994.
    As the shooting range is 300 metres in length it would have normally been used for rifle practice. The sand trap was designed to prevent ricochets though the wooden construction itself would not have stopped much.

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    Eicke House

    by alancollins Updated Feb 12, 2012

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    Eicke House during renovation
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    Theodor Eicke was an infamous Nazi. He was one of those responsible for shooting Ernest Rohm after he refused to commit suicide, following the night of the long knives. He became the commandant of Dachau Concentration Camp in 1933 and in 1934 he was promoted to head the inspectorate of concentration camps which was located at Sachsenhausen, where he remained until 1939. Whilst at Sachsenhausen Eicke had a house built at the far end of the SS Camp. Its location was chosen because of the trees in the garden and it was surrounded by a high wall. The building now appears to have been renovated and has been changed into a youth hostel and a place can be booked by anyone.

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Oranienburg Things to Do

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