Flossenburg Memorial – A Place of Remembrance

posted by Sharon January 27, 2019 24 Comments
Flossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg Concentration Camp was one of the hundreds of camps run by the Nazis during World War II. It’s set in the lovely forested land of eastern Germany, just a few miles from the Czech Republic.

Flossenburg Memorial Germany

The attraction for the German war machine was the large granite quarry here. As the war went on, more and more prisoners from virtually every country in the European theater of the war were sent here to wrest granite slabs from the earth. Today, the quarry still produces granite, while the camp has become a peaceful memorial to those who died here. Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

The main building survived and now houses a team of researchers and administrators. They are involved in actively finding and naming prisoners and survivors. Flossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg Memorial GermanyWe were given the honor of spending a full day with these researchers because my dad served here right after the war. He was with the 90th Army, nicknamed the Tough Hombres. Here’s a plaque we found on the grounds thanking the 90th for their part in the camp’s liberation. Flossenburg Memorial Germany

With Annabelle and Tamara, we toured the gardens. We went in the memorial chapel with its lovely stained glass. We paid respects at the mass grave. We stood in the shadow of the guard tower and somberly entered the crematorium. Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossesnburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg Memorial GermanyOne of the buildings houses a museum that pays tribute to individuals who lost their lives here. The numbers are staggering – about 30,000 dead – but numbing. Once you put a name and a face with a number, you can begin to understand the horror of Flossenburg. Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg is the camp where theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was killed just before the war’s end. We walked along the wall where he was executed. Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

The quiet of the forest surrounding the camp must have been such a contrast to the life of the prisoners. As the Allies approached in April, 1945, the German guards took all prisoners who could stand on a death march. They left only the sickest behind. When my dad arrived, these ill souls were still there. In the museum, we found this photo of some of those men.Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

For about 50 years after the war, Flossenburg stood as a only a mass grave. Most of the buildings were torn down for construction material. Relatives of prisoners and other caring people finally organized to develop a fitting memorial. The work is ongoing. It was an immense privilege to learn from these young scholars a more detailed history of Flossenburg. The years pass, but we remember what happened here. For the sake of our humanity, we must never forget. Flossenburg Memorial GermanyFlossenburg Memorial Germany

Flossenburg Memorial Germany

For more information, visit the memorials website. The museum and camp area is free and is open every day at 9:00.

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24 Comments

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William Kendall January 27, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Haunting… and powerful. It seems so peaceful today, but with that history…

Excellent photos.

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Junieper January 27, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Have to look up Flossenburg’s location, because we have friends since the 70ties in S-Germany (when it was still communistic), close to the Czech republic. It never fails when I see images of the concentration camp areas I get teary eyed. We have lived in Berlin, a wonderful place with Germans who became friends, I can only understand it (a little) as God’s scales of justice working when so many awful things happen in one country (comparative to other Eur. countries).
Thank you Sharon for bring this to All Seasons’ attention. Because your father was serving here, it belongs to your family history. Thank you for sharing!!

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup January 28, 2019 at 8:43 am

Sobering to think how cruelly we treat our fellow human beings. How terribly sad.
Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/01/bloomin-beauty.html

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Carol January 28, 2019 at 11:59 am

Another great post on a sad subject – so much violence and death. We can never forget.

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Jackie January 29, 2019 at 6:59 am

I do so hope that we never forget!
I’ve visited a few of these camps and it is a sobering feeling. This one looks like a lovely memorial.

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Katherine January 30, 2019 at 8:04 am

I’d never heard of the Flossenburg camp before, so thank you for introducing me to it and it’s history. How very sad, were they quarrying the granit for rebuilding efforts during the war? It must have been surreal to be there when you had such a personal connection to the place. #WanderfulWednesday

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KB January 30, 2019 at 8:19 pm

Heartbreaking that such terrible things can happen in such a beautiful setting

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betty - NZ January 31, 2019 at 3:39 pm

What a somber and sobering place. The history is so horrible but the memorials are such a loving tribute. Thanks for sharing your photos and your impressions of this place.

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Sara January 31, 2019 at 6:53 pm

Beautiful, serene photos – a wonderful tribute to a terrible place. I do love the stained glass – it seems quite fitting. I’ve not been able to visit one of the camps because of the overwhelming emotional impact that I feel it would have. I think that seeing it through the eyes of others, thoughtfully as you have done, is the first step to finding the courage to confront the past though.

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Janis February 1, 2019 at 3:44 am

A very touching post and so important that we visit these places and never forget. Thanks very much for sharing #farawayfiles

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Esther February 1, 2019 at 8:46 am

Thank you so much for writing this post. I consider myself very knowledgeable about WWII, though hadn’t heard of this camp. It’s important these things are shared.
#FeetDoTravel

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hilary February 1, 2019 at 9:09 am

I couldn’t agree with you more about sharing and visiting places like these. It’s so important to keep the memories alive to prevent this from happening again even if it is so incredibly sad. Fascinating that your family has a connection to this place, it must have made the visit even more moving for you. Thank you for sharing on #farawayfiles

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Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid February 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

I got goosebumps reading this – there’s such a contrast between the beautiful countryside and the horrors that happened at the camp. I’ve just been reading a book called ‘The Lilac Girls’ based on a true story and some of it focuses on Ravensbruck Camp – as you say it’s so important that these places are visited and the stories are still told. We went to Auschwitz and it was a really heart wrenching experience but one I will never forget. How amazing that your dad had such an important part to play here – but how hard it must have been too. I’ve been watching a documentary series called ‘After Hitler’ – giving a fascinating insight into what happened after the camps were liberated.

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Sarah February 1, 2019 at 5:19 pm

I find visiting concentration camps is so emotionally draining, but it also feels like a necessary duty to pay homage to the poor people who were interned. This sounds like a particularly interesting and emotional visit for you as your dad played a part in the liberation – it must have been so eye opening. I’m glad you were able to see it for yourself!

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Bernie and Jess Watt February 2, 2019 at 7:03 am

This was a great read. I didn’t realise that Flossenburg was still in existence – for some reason it doesn’t get mentioned on the same level as Dachau, Mauthausen or Sachenhausen in the concentration camps. It must have been particularly interesting with your father playing such a role. The things he must have seen.

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Brooke of Passport Couture February 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm

A very powerful post about why we need to remember what happened here. Seeing all of the plants and flowers growing around the graves and the site made me think of how we can heal after a traumatic incident. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us of the understanding we can gain from visiting a place like Flossenburg. #WeekendWanderlust

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Emese February 2, 2019 at 6:27 pm

What an emotional visit this must have been, Sharon! You are right, we need to remember this dark part of history, so hopefully, we won’t ever repeat it. It’s good that they made it into a museum, and trying to find everyone’s name who suffered there, so they may be honored.

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Angie (FeetDoTravel) February 2, 2019 at 10:42 pm

So many different stories of remembrance you are having as your honour your Father. We need to be reminded of the past in order to not repeat mistakes in the future (although often I fear we don’t learn … I say this as I have just written my post on the Cambodian Genocide). Such a lovely setting for a place so horrible. Pinned for others to share. #feetdotravel

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Jill February 3, 2019 at 4:27 pm

I’ve toured the battle sites in Normandy and the American cemetery (where I think every American should visit) but I’ve not been to a site of a former concentration camp. It must bring up so many emotions – and the fact that your father was here would add to that. What a touching post.

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Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) February 5, 2019 at 6:28 am

What a special and humbling experience to have been able to spend the day with the people doing such important work here. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

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Sol Solntze February 5, 2019 at 10:09 am

You are so right that the numbers dead make it hard to process – until you find a name or a photo to make it all real. Interesting and sobering post.

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Trish February 6, 2019 at 7:45 am

What a privilege to visit the camp where your dad had served after the war. It’s reassuring to know that research continues and the terrible atrocities that happened here will never be forgotten.
#farawayfiles

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Jennifer February 17, 2019 at 11:12 pm

Heart touching article. Thanks for sharing such a valuable article.

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Vern Schmidt March 29, 2019 at 10:48 am

Dear Sharon, Thank you for sharing this website with me, I too, like your Dad, witnessed the liberation day, April 23, 1945 as a member of the 90th Division. My family and I have been back 6 times to visit the transition from a place of despair to a treasured display of
beauty and dignity. Two people stand out who played a very large part in what you see on a visit, Dr. Jorg Skreibeleit, the Director,
and Dr. Jack Terry, a former inmate, both very dear friends of mine. You have done a great service to all who will visit your website.

Vern Schmidt

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