The sky’s were gray and gloomy, the town seemed empty. Depression filled the air and it was eerily silent all around. Alone, quiet and miserable. Nothing could be said about this place, no words could describe the unbearable actions committed against humanity. It was a home to monsters and a prison to the innocent. The morbid actions may not take place anymore, but the memories are written in stone and carved from the dead still remain. Welcome to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp.
As I entered the town of Flossenbürg, my first time, I noticed the streets were empty. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but I did not expect it to be quiet on a Sunday afternoon. We searched around for the camp and drove up a steep winding road through the town. We parked our car and got out, no more than observing the desolation of this once torture camp.
As the prisoners were brought to the front of the concentration camp. A tall stone structure with three windows overlooking the camp. The SS headquarters quartered ninety SS soldiers for the entire Flossenbürg camp. The headquarter’s held the prisoner’s log and other documents about the prisoners and the history of some of the German prisoners that were forced into the labor camp.
(SS Headquarters second trip to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp)
Next place the prisoners would encounter what the roll-call ground that sat in between the old rugged kitchen and laundry room. They were two long white stone buildings that sat somber in appearance. They have since been refurbished and turned into museums. These buildings now tell the story of what a daily life is like in the despondent camp.
(Kitchen of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp first trip) (Laundry Room of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp)
The Laundry Room was more than what an average person would think. It was a place of torture before being bathed in the showers by monstrous hands. During one of our trips we talked to an older couple. They had told stories that their parents had told them about the laundry room was used to brutally beat prisoners almost to the point of death. Some prisoners have been so severely beaten that they were never able to recover from the harsh beatings. They would then forcefully shave their heads sometimes cutting the prisoners and then bath them in showers which were scorching hot and other times ice cold. The laundry room was a torture chamber and it was feared to go into the building. Their striped pajamas would be given here and then off to the barracks the dispirited prisoner would go.
Death was welcomed by the SS in this lab camp. The town of Flossenbürg is rich in granite and many of the prisoners were forced to mine the granite. Sometimes the lab was so intense that prisoners would fall dead. If this did not kill you, random shootings from the guards and lethal injection was not a surprise in the camp. Many diseases began to crawl through the camp and would not be treated so they would die from the sickness. Death striving guards over the prisoners like the grim reaper ready to take their souls at any minute.
There were so many people dying during the cremation of the crematorium. Today the ashes of many still remains with grass growing and being named ” The Pyramid of Ashes “. Diedrich Bonhoeffer Who the gallows are no longer around. We do not know for sure if he was buried or hung, but it is assumed he was buried as many Germans were. Diedrich Bonhoeffer was hung up in this brightly filled camp on April 9th, 1945.
(Pyramid of Ashes) (The ovens in the crematorium) (The Pyramid of Ashes with Crematorium in the background as a guard tower over looks them.)
The prisoner quarters or barracks were pieced together with wood and are no longer around today. They run uphill and break away from the cold. Hypothermia, pneumonia, bronchitis and other sicknesses would be the prisoners and treatment nowhere to be found. (The Barracks in the 1940’s show the barracks on the left side of the gate) (Today in 2018 What’s left over the SS headquarters on the left, behind the HQ is the cantina or as we know it, cafeteria for the SS Soldiers and Guards , the kitchen with the homes behind the hill, the laundry room In the middle and the remaining detention barracks or “Arrest building”, where prisoners such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his comrades would have stayed.) (A comparison of then and now)
Flossenbürg was a torture camp and a hell for those who survived and remembered it. The United States arrived and liberated the camp on April 23rd, 1945 with troops from the 97th Infantry Division and the 90th Infantry Division. Bonhoeffer and many others may have been spared. The lives that were lost were remembered by the remains of today. Words can not describe the darkness. I would not fully understand what they were going through unless.
(A final look)