Ravensbrück Concentration Camp – Womens camp – Fürstenberg-Havel, Germany


History

Ravensbrück, located in northern Germany, was a concentration camp primarily for women, established by the Nazis in 1938/1939. It stands as a symbol of the suffering endured by female prisoners during the Holocaust. Initially intended to incarcerate political prisoners, Ravensbrück later became a site for the imprisonment and extermination of women from various backgrounds, including Jews, Romani, lesbians, political dissidents, and others deemed “undesirable” by the Nazi regime.

SS Headquarters – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Guard houses – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Inside the SS Headquarter – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Prisoners bunk – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Prisoners uniform – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Life within Ravensbrück was characterized by extreme deprivation, brutality, and dehumanization. Women endured overcrowded living conditions, forced labor, inadequate food, and medical experimentation. The SS guards subjected prisoners to systematic abuse, torture, and arbitrary executions. The camp’s gas chamber and crematorium bore witness to the mass murder of thousands of innocent women, whose only crime was their identity or perceived opposition to Nazi ideology.

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Wall around the former field of barracks - Ravensbrück concentration camp
Wall around the former field of barracks – Ravensbrück concentration camp
Former field of barracks - Ravensbrück concentration campRavensbrück Concentration Camp
Former field of barracks – Ravensbrück concentration campRavensbrück Concentration Camp
Memorials at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Memorials at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Despite the pervasive suffering, acts of resistance and solidarity emerged within Ravensbrück. Women found ways to support and uplift each other, sharing food, clothing, and emotional support. Underground networks formed, providing a lifeline for those targeted by the regime and documenting the atrocities unfolding in the camp. The liberation of Ravensbrück by Soviet forces in April 1945 marked the end of one chapter of suffering but also revealed the full extent of the horrors perpetrated within its walls. The world recoiled in horror as the truth of the Holocaust emerged, prompting widespread condemnation and calls for justice.

Inside the prison block – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Memorial at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Crematorium – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Crematorium furnaces – Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

The women’s concentration camp Ravenbrück was built in 1938-1939 by the SS together with a men’s camp in the vicinity, the Uckermark concentration camp for girls and young women and the Siemens camp Ravensbrück. These camps and more subcamps around Ravensbrück were set up for forced labor and kept the German industry rolling.

Besides forced labor medical experiments were performed on the female inmates like gruesome sterilization methods. During 1943 the camp rose rapidly and tents were placed between barracks, numbers grew to 70.000 in an overcrowded concentration camp . Large numbers of women arrived from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Warsaw and Hungary. They were relocated when the Soviet armies closed in. Dozens of women died every day in this period.

When the red army approached the Ravensbrück concentration camp in April 1945 they freed only around 3000 prisoners, weak, sick and left behind. All the others were forced to leave the camp in a, so called, death march. In total 13200 women, young adults and children and 20000 men were interned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp during the war, enduring cruelty of the captor and, unfortunately, of the liberator.

It is estimated that 28000 people lost their lives in Ravenbrück.
After the war the former concentration camp was an army base for the Soviet forces until 1993. The camp became a memorial in 1959 and was expanded several times in later years.

Memorials at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp
Memorials at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp looking out towards the German town Führstenberg

Visit

There is a carpark nearby, check the website for opening times. Visiting the concentration camp wil take you a good part of the day. 3 to 4 hours are easily spent, there is much to see and read, the distance between objects is large so wear comfortable walking shoes and bring something to drink.



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