Some cool prepare for collapse images:
Image by Sólo J
The death marches refer to the forcible movement in the winter of 1944-45 by Nazi Germany of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, from German concentration camps near the war front to camps inside Germany.
The camp was established in 1936. It was located north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was located in Oranienburg, and Sachsenhausen became a training centre for Schutzstaffel (SS) officers (who would often be sent to oversee other camps afterwards). Executions took place at Sachsenhausen, especially those that were Soviet Prisoners of War. Some Jews were executed at Sachsenhausen and many died there, the Jewish inmates of the camp were relocated to Auschwitz in 1942. Sachsenhausen was not intended as an extermination camp — instead, the systematic mass murder of Jews was conducted in camps to the east. However, many died as a result of executions, casual brutality and the poor living conditions and treatment.
Sachsenhausen was intended to set a standard for other concentration camps, both in its design and the treatment of prisoners. The camp perimeter is, approximately, an equilateral triangle with a semi circular roll call area centred on the main entrance gate in the side running northeast to southwest. Barrack huts lay beyond the roll call area, radiating from the gate. The layout was intended to allow the machine gun post in the entrance gate to dominate the camp but in practice it was necessary to add additional watchtowers to the perimeter.
The standard barrack layout was two accommodation areas linked by common storage, washing and storage areas. Heating was minimal. Each day, time to get up, wash, use the toilet and eat was very limited in the crowded facilities.
There was an infirmary inside the southern angle of the perimeter and a camp prison within the eastern angle. There was also a camp kitchen and a camp laundry. The camp’s capacity became inadequate and the camp was extended in 1938 by a new rectangular area (the "small camp") north east of the entrance gate and the perimeter wall was altered to enclose it. There was an additional area (sonder lager) outside the main camp perimeter to the north; this was built in 1941 for special prisoners that the regime wished to isolate.
An industrial area, outside the western camp perimeter, contained SS workshops in which prisoners were forced to work; those unable to work had to stand to attention for the duration of the working day. Heinkel, the aircraft manufacturer, was a major user of Sachsenhausen labour, using between 6000 and 8000 prisoners on their He 177 bomber. Although official German reports claimed "The prisoners are working without fault", some of these aircraft crashed unexpectedly around Stalingrad and it’s suspected that prisoners had sabotaged them.  Other firms included AEG.
Plaque to honour over 100 Dutch resistance fighters executed at Sachsenhausen.Later, part of the industrial area was used for "Station Z", where executions took place and a new crematorium was built, when the first camp crematorium could no longer cope with the number of corpses. The executions were done in a trench, either by shooting or by hanging. Amongst those executed were the commandos from Operation Musketoon and the Grand Prix motor racing champion, William Grover-Williams, also John Godwin RNVR, a British Naval Sub-Lieutenant who managed to shoot dead the commander of his execution party, for which he was mentioned in despatches posthumously. Over 100 Dutch resistance fighters were executed at Sachsenhausen.
The camp was secure and there were few successful escapes. The perimeter consisted of a three metre high wall on the outside. Within that there was a path used by guards and dogs; it was bordered on the inside by a lethal electric fence; inside that was a "death strip" forbidden to the prisoners. Any prisoner venturing onto the "death strip" would be shot by the guards without warning.
Arbeit Macht Frei gateOn the front entrance gates to Sachsenhausen is the infamous slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (German: "Work Makes [You] Free"). About 200,000 people passed through Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Some 100,000 inmates died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition or pneumonia from the freezing winter cold. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation. According to an article published on December 13, 2001 in The New York Times, "In the early years of the war the SS practiced methods of mass killing there that were later used in the Nazi death camps. Of the roughly 30,000 wartime victims at Sachsenhausen, most were Russian prisoners of war, among them Joseph Stalin’s eldest son (Yakov Dzhugashvili).
The wife and children of Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, members of the Wittelsbach family, were held in the camp from October 1944 to April 1945, before being transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. Reverend Martin Niemöller, a critic of the Nazis and author of the poem First they came…, was also a prisoner at the camp. Herschel Grynszpan, whose act of assassination was used by Joseph Goebbels to initiate the Kristallnacht pogrom, was moved in and out of Sachshausen since his capture on the 18th July 1940 and until September 1940 when he was moved to Magdeburg. Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera was imprisoned there until October 1944, and two of his brothers died there.
On September 15 1939, August Dickman, a German Jehovah’s Witness, was publicly shot as a result of his conscientious objection to joining the armed forces. The SS had expected his death to persuade fellow Witnesses to abandon their own refusals and to show rspect for camp rules and authorities. It failed; the others enthusiastically refused to back down and begged to be martyred also. 
Sachsenhausen was the site of the largest counterfeiting operation ever. The Nazis forced Jewish artisans to produce forged American and British currency, as part of a plan to undermine the British and United States’ economies, courtesy of Sicherheitsdienst (SD) chief Reinhard Heydrich. Over one billion pounds in counterfeited banknotes was recovered. The Germans introduced fake British £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes into circulation in 1943: the Bank of England never found them. Today, these notes are considered very valuable by collectors.
Many women were among the inmates of Sachsenhausen and its subcamps. According to SS files, more than 2,000 women lived in Sachsenhausen, guarded by female SS staff (Aufseherin). Camp records show that there was one male SS soldier for every ten inmates and for every ten male SS there was a woman SS. Several subcamps for women were established in Berlin, including in Neukolln.
Camp punishments could be harsh. Some would be required to assume the "Sachsenhausen salute" where a prisoner would squat with his arms outstretched in front. There was a marching strip around the perimeter of the roll call ground, where prisoners had to march over a variety of surfaces, to test military footwear; between 25 and 40 kilometres were covered each day. Prisoners assigned to the camp prison would be kept in isolation on poor rations and some would be suspended from posts by their wrists tied behind their backs (strappado). In cases such as attempted escape, there would a public hanging in front of the assembled prisoners.
With the advance of the Red Army in the spring of 1945, Sachsenhausen was prepared for evacuation. On April 20–21, the camp’s SS staff ordered 33,000 inmates on a forced march westward. 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. On April 22, 1945, the camp’s remaining 3,000 inmates, including 1,400 women were liberated by the Red Army and Polish 2nd Infantry Division of Ludowe Wojsko Polskie.
It’s estimated that 200,000 people passed thrugh Sachsenhausen concentration camp and that 100,000 died.
More Cuba, Dec 2011 – 196
Image by Ed Yourdon
Yet another of the old cars, obviously being used as a taxi…
This is a second set of a couple hundred photos taken in Havana, Cuba in December 2011. The first set, which included what I felt were the best 100 photos of the 3500+ images, was uploaded earlier. You can find it here on Flickr.
As I suggested in my first set of Cuba photos on Flickr, the notion of traveling to Cuba is — at least for many Americans today — probably like that of traveling to North Korea. It’s off-limits, forbidden by the government — and frankly, why would anyone bother? But for someone like me, who spent his childhood in the Cold War era of the 1950s, and who went off to college just after Castro took power, and just before the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis, the notion of traveling to Cuba has entirely different overtones.
And yet Cuba is only 90 miles away from Key West (as we were reminded so often in the 1960s), and its climate is presumably no different than a dozen of Caribbean islands I’ve visited over the years. Numerous friends have made quasi-legal trips to Cuba over the years, flying in from Canada or Mexico, and they’ve all returned with fabulous pictures and great stories of a vibrant, colorful country. So, when the folks at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops sent out a notice in November 2011, announcing a series of photo workshops in Havana, we couldn’t resist the temptation to sign up.
Getting into Cuba turned out to be trivial: an overnight stay in Miami, a 45-minute chartered flight operated by American Airlines, and customs/immigration formalities that turned out to be cursory or non-existent. By mid-afternoon, our group was checked into the Parque Central Hotel in downtown Havana — where the rooms were spacious, the service was friendly, the food was reasonably tasty, the rum was delicious, and the Internet was … well, slow and expensive.
We had been warned that that some of our American conveniences — like credit cards — would not be available, and we were prepared for a fairly spartan week. But no matter how prepared we might have been intellectually, it takes a while to adjust to a land with no Skype, no Blackberry service, no iPhone service, no phone-based Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I was perfectly happy that there were no Burger Kings, no Pizza Huts, no Wendys, no Starbuck’s, and MacDonalds. There was Coke (classic), but no Diet Coke (or Coke Light). There were also no police sirens, no ambulance sirens, and no church bells. There were no iPods, and consequently no evidence of people plugged into their music via the thin white earplugs that Apple supplies with their devices. No iPads, no Kindles, no Nooks, no … well, you get the picture. (It’s also worth noting that, with U.S. tourists now beginning to enter the country in larger numbers, Cuba seems to be on the cusp of a "modern" invasion; if I come back here in a couple years, I fully expect to see Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets on every corner.)
But there were lots of friendly people in Havana, crowding the streets, peering out of windows and doorways, laughing and shouting and waving at friends and strangers alike. Everyone was well-dressed in clean clothes (the evidence of which could be seen in the endless lines of clothing hanging from laundry lines strung from wall to wall, everywhere); but there were no designer jeans, no fancy shoes, no heavy jewelry, and no sign of ostentatious clothing of any kind. Like some other developing countries, the people were sometimes a little too friendly — constantly offering a taxi ride, a pedicab ride, a small exchange of the "official" currency (convertible pesos, or "cuqs") for the "local" currency (pesos), a great meal or a great drink at a nearby restaurant or bar, a haircut, a manicure, or just a little … umm, well, friendship (offers for which ran the gamut of "sen?or" to "amigo" to "my friend"). On the street, you often felt you were in the land of the hustle; but if you smiled, shook your head, and politely said, "no," people generally smiled and back off.
As for the photography: well, I was in one of three different workshop groups, each of which had roughly a dozen participants. The three dozen individual photographers were well equipped with all of the latest Nikon and Canon gear, and they generally focused on a handful of subjects: buildings and architecture, ballet practice sessions, cockfights, boxing matches, rodeos, fishing villages, old cars, interiors of people’s homes, street scenes, and people. Lots of people. As in every other part of the world I’ve visited, the people were the most interesting. We saw young and old, men and women, boisterous children, grizzled elders, police officers, bus drivers, and people of almost every conceivable race.
The streets were clean, though not spotless; and the streets were jammed, with bicycles and motorbikes and pedi-cabs, taxis, buses, horse-and-carriages, pedestrians, dogs (lots of dogs, many sleeping peacefully in the middle of a sidewalk), and even a few people on roller skates. And, as anyone who has seen photos of Havana knows, there were lots and lots and LOTS of old cars. Plymouths, Pontiacs, Dodges, Buicks, and Chevys, along with the occasional Cadillac. A few were old and rusted, but most had been renovated, repaired, and repainted — often in garishly bright colors from every spectrum of the rainbow. Cherry pink, fire-engine red, Sunkist orange, lime green, turquoise and every shade of blue, orange, brown, and a lot more that I’ve probably forgotten. All of us in the photo workshop succumbed to the temptation to photograph the cars when we first arrived … but they were everywhere, every day, wherever we went, and eventually we all suffered from sensory overload. (For what it’s worth, one of our workshop colleagues had visited Cuba eight years ago, and told us that at the time, there were only old cars in sight; now roughly half of the cars are more-or-less modern Kia’s, Audis, Russian Ladas, and other "generic" compact cars.)
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for in Havana was the sense of decay: almost no modern buildings, no skyscrapers, and very little evidence of renovation. There were several monstrous, ugly, vintage-1950s buildings that oozed "Russia" from every pore. But the rest of the buildings date back to the 40s, the 30s, the 20s, or even the turn of the last century. Some were crumbling, some were just facades; some showed evidence of the kind of salt-water erosion that one sees near the ocean. But many simply looked old and decrepit, with peeling paint and broken stones, like the run-down buildings in whatever slum you’re familiar with in North America. One has a very strong sense of a city that was vibrant and beautiful all during the last half of the 19th century, and the first half of the 20th century — and then time stopped dead in its tracks.
Why that happened, and what’s being done about it, is something I didn’t have a chance to explore; there was a general reluctance to discuss politics in great detail. Some of Havana looks like the less-prosperous regions of other Caribbean towns; and some of it is presumably the direct and/or indirect result of a half-century of U.S. embargo. But some of it seems to be the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and the subsequent collapse of foreign aid that Cuba depended upon.
As for my own photos: I did not attend the ballet practice sessions, nor did I see the rodeo. I did see some interesting graffiti on a few walls, which I photographed; but for some reason, I missed almost all of the numerous political billboards and stylized paintings of Che Guevera on buildings and walls. What I focused on instead was the "street scenes" of people and buildings and cars, which will hopefully give you a sense of what the place is like.
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