We drove about 30 minutes north of Berlin to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg. At least 30,000 inmates died in Sachsenhausen from causes such as exhaustion, disease, malnutrition and pneumonia, as a result of the poor living conditions. Most of them were Russian prisoners of war and many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation.
With the advance of the Red Army in the spring of 1945, the camp's SS staff ordered 33,000 inmates on a forced march northwest. Most of the prisoners were physically exhausted and thousands did not survive this death march; those who collapsed en route were shot by the SS. The march ended on May 2nd, when 18,000 remaining prisoners were liberated by tanks of the 2nd Belorussian Front. On April 22, 1945 the camp's remaining 3,000 inmates were liberated by the Red Army and the Polish Army's 2nd Infantry Division.
Arbeit macht frei is a German phrase meaning "work sets you free". These signs were erected at several concentration camps, most famously at Auschwitz and Dachau. Its use originated in Oranienburg.
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