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Ravensbrück's picturesque setting contrasted with the camp's cruel reality that inflicted misery and death on thousands of women.
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Diagram of the Camp at the museum of Mahnund Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück. Courtesy of MGR/SBG.
SS Propaganda photos of Ravensbrück, 1940-1941. Courtesy of MGR/SBG.
Map showing location of concentration camps. Historical Atlas of the Holocaust © Yechiam Halevy.
Ravensbrück was located about 50 miles from Berlin, in an area that became part of the German Democratic Republic after World War II. It was built alongside Lake Schwedt, with the medieval town of Fürstenberg visible across the lake. A high wall with electrified barbed wire enclosed the women in the camp. Although the lake looks picturesque, it contains the women's ashes from the camp crematorium's three ovens. The camp was generally offlimits for visitors from the West until after the Berlin wall fell in November 1989. The original barracks were razed by the Soviet Army after World War II, and new barracks were built for the Soviet troops stationed in the camp until 1993. They were there as part of the Soviet Union's Cold War antimissile program. During this time, the former SS headquarters, punishment block, and crematorium housed memorial exhibits. After the reunification of Germany, the camp's site was refurbished and readied for the April 1995 ceremonies that marked the fiftieth anniversary of liberation. The official name of the camp memorial is Mahn and Gedenkstdtte Ravensbrück/ Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstdtten (Ravensbrück Memorial, part of the Brandenburg Memorial Foundation)
"Scene of Camp Life." Drawing by Ravensbrück prisoner Maria Hiszpanska. Ravensbrücker Zeichnungen. © (MGR/SBG). (Original in archive of (MGR/SBG).
Hiszpanska was a graduate of the Art Academy in Warsaw and used her skills to show the horrors of the concentration camp (drawing camp scenes was an illegal activity). She created around 250 drawings in Ravenbreuck and 200 in Neubrandenburg concentration camp. Her work was an example of international cooperation. All of the prisoners tried to get scrap paper for her, as well as pencils, and helped hide her artwork in the matresses. Not all of the drawings survived. Note by Anna Jarosky, Norwood, NJ.
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