Monday, May 18, 2009

Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Opens - May, 18 1939

The Monument Two Women at the crematorium in front of the Wall of Nations, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial
The Monument "Two Women" by Will Lammert and Fritz Cremer at the crematorium in front of the Wall of Nations, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial

Ravensbrück was a notorious women's concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück.

Construction of the camp began in November 1938 by SS leader Heinrich Himmler and was unusual in that it was a camp primarily for women. The camp opened in May 18, 1939. In the spring of 1941, the SS authorities established a small men's camp adjacent to the main camp.

Between 1939 and 1945, over 130,000 female prisoners passed through the Ravensbrück camp system; only 40,000 survived. Although the inmates came from every country in German-occupied Europe, the largest single national group incarcerated in the camp consisted of Polish women.

There were children in the camp as well. At first, they arrived with mothers or were born to imprisoned women.

It is estimated that inmates of Ravensbrück ethnic structure was the following: Poles 24.9%, Germans 19.9%, Jews 15.1%, Russians 15.0%, French 7.3%, Gypsies 5.4%, other 12.4%. Gestapo categorized the inmates as follows: political 83.54%, anti-social 12.35%, criminal 2.02%, Jehovah Witnesses 1.11%, racial defilement 0.78%, other 0.20%.

Inmates at Ravensbrück suffered greatly. Living in subhuman conditions, thousands were shot, strangled, gassed, buried alive, or worked to death. Periodically, the SS authorities subjected prisoners in the camp to "selections" in which the Germans isolated those prisoners considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first, "selected" prisoners were shot. Beginning in 1942, they were transferred to "euthanasia" killing centers or to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The SS staff also murdered some prisoners in the camp infirmary by lethal injection.

The bodies of those killed in the camp were cremated in the nearby Fürstenberg crematorium until 1943. In that year, SS authorities constructed a crematorium at a site near the camp prison. In the autumn of 1944, the SS constructed a gas chamber near the crematorium. The Germans gassed several thousand prisoners at Ravensbrück before the camp's liberation in April 1945.

Starting in the summer of 1942, medical experiments were conducted without consent. The first type of experiments tested the efficacy of sulfonamide drugs. These experiments involved deliberate cutting into and infecting leg bones and muscles with virulent bacteria, cutting nerves, introducing substances like pieces of wood or glass into tissues, and fracturing bones. The second set of experiments studied bone, muscle and nerve regeneration, and the possibility of transplanting bones from one person to another. Some prisoners died as a result of the experiments, others with unhealed wounds were executed and the rest survived, with permanent physical damage, due to the help of other inmates in the camp. Four of them testified against Nazi doctors at the Doctors' Trial in 1946.

With the Soviet Army's rapid approach in the Spring of 1945, the SS decided to exterminate as many prisoners as they could in order to avoid leaving anyone to testify as to what had happened in the camp. With the Russians only hours away, at the end of March, the SS ordered the women still physically well enough to walk to leave the camp, forcing over 20,000 prisoners on a death march toward northern Mecklenburg. Less than 3,500 malnourished and sickly women and 300 men remained in the camp when it was liberated by the Red Army on April 30, 1945. The survivors of the Death March were liberated in the following hours by a Russian scout unit.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)


  1. that's insane how the germans let this happen! their just haters on the jews!

  2. I find it extremely disturbing the infatuation these barbaric animals had with abortion and euthinasia! WAKE UP AMERICA!!! Total lack of the dignity of human life! History truly does repeat itself!

  3. Ich kann vieles verstehen, aber warum spricht man immer nur von Juden? Meine Tante war eine deutsche Frau ohne einen Hintergrund und ist in Ravensbrück verstorben. Die Sterbeurkunde liegt mir heute noch vor.