1945, the war was over, Nazi Germany was defeated and the inmates of the concentration camps were liberated. But only a few weeks later, these camps filled up again in the Soviet occupation zone. Alleged Nazi perpetrators, but also more and more real or putative opponents of communism, were sent by the thousands to a total of ten so-called “special camps” without ever being examined for their guilt.

Bautzen, January 2011

At least 123,000 Germans were thus sent to such a camp by 1950, and the official final report of the “Special Camp Department” names 42,889 as having died. That is 36 percent. Many prisoners simply starved to death or died from lack of hygiene, cold or disease. In this way, places like Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Jamlitz or Bautzen retained their horror even after 1945.

Among the prisoners, there were also children, children who were born there, lived there, and sometimes died there. For the camp administration, these children did not exist and so they received no food, no diapers, no clothes, no shoes, no toys. The mothers had to share their own insufficient food ration with their children and as for clothing, the children wore what was left over from the dead and could still be used.

1999, after many years again in front of the camp gate

When the last camps on German soil, Buchenwald, Bautzen and Sachsenhausen, were closed in 1950, about 42 children still lived in Sachsenhausen. Some gained freedom with their mother, a few were deported to the USSR. However, about 30 children, together with about 1,200 women, were sent to the penal system of the GDR. They were taken in cattle cars to the women’s prison at Hoheneck, where they were forcibly separated shortly afterwards. The children were sent to homes where they were supposed to be raised to become “upright socialist people”. The children born in Hoheneck suffered a similar fate. Only when the mother was released did they see each other again after many years, but it was not always possible to rebuild a relationship after these long years of separation.

We belong to these children!