GERMANY  |  Potsdam, Germany Travel Guide
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Oranienburg

Oranienburg

Oranienburg is a small town north of Berlin. It was long famous as the home of the first Baroque palace in Brandburg, but, since the Nazi era, it is better known for the notorious Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Due to its proximity to Berlin, it is more often than not visited on a day-trip from the capital.

Sightseeing in Oranienburg

The main reason to travel to Oranienburg is to see the Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen (Memorial), on Straße der Nationen 22. Already in 1933 the Nazis built a concentration camp in the center of Oranienburg, in an unused factory, to “house” opponents of the Nazi regime in Berlin. The town camp was soon closed and eventually replaced by Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen. This camp, with 100 smaller branch camps, housed some 200,000 people while used by the Nazis (1936-45) and 60,000 when used by the Soviets as an internment camp (1945-50). The Nazis saw Sachsenhausen as a model camp, used it for training purposes, and it eventually housed the central administration of all concentration camps in the Reich.

From 1961 to 1992, the site was used as a memorial with severely skewed historical explanations. The killing of for example Jews and Gypsies was blamed on capitalist demands rather than racism and anti-Semitism. However, since 1993, serious attempts have been made to restore parts of the camp and to present a more balanced view of history. Several buildings have been restored, barracks rebuilt, and excellent exhibitions created.

Also in town is Schloss Oranienburg (Palace), Schlossplatz 2, the oldest Baroque palace in Brandenburg. It was built for Louise-Henriette of Orange, the Dutch-born first wife of the Great Elector, in 1651. It became the favored residence of Elector Frederick III (later Frederick I, King of Prussia. During the 19th and 20th centuries, it saw duty as a residence, factory, conference center, and military camp. Open to the public are the reception rooms as well as private apartments of the King and other nobles. Most of the decorations are in the style of the late 16th century and show life in the Prussian court around 1700. Quality art is on display, including paintings and sculptures.

Last updated February 1, 2012
Posted in   Germany  |  Potsdam
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