Memorial to the Death March in the Belower Forest

Memorials of recent German history
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As the front line moved closer on April 21, 1945, the SS at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp drove more than 33,000 men, women and children on various routes towards the northwest. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which observed the misery along the way in places, could only help a very small number of people. Those who were too weak to continue were shot by the SS in roadside ditches. The Death March on April 23 in Below Forest near Wittstock was interrupted for a short period of time for about 16,000 exhausted prisoners.
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  • Belower Wald, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
  • Mahnmal, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
  • Belower Wald - Vitrine, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
  • Gedenkstätte Belower Wald - Ausstellung, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
Until April 29, 1945, the prisoners camped without shelter and supplies in the forest area, which was fenced off with barbed wire. They dug ground holes or built shelters from branches to protect themselves and in their desperation they ate bark, roots and weeds. The guards stayed in the surrounding farms. The SS allowed the ICRC to distribute aid packages to the prisoners. The helpers set up an emergency hospital in the neighbouring village of Grabow. 132 prisoners who died in the forest camp or in the emergency hospital are buried in the cemetery in Grabow. The Death March set off again after six days. The convoys left the forest camp heading north. They were liberated by Soviet and American troops in the first few days of May.

Since 1975, a column in Below Forest commemorates the victims of the Death March. Six years later, a memorial site was set up as an addition to the Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen memorial. In 2002, right-wing extremists carried out an arson attack on the former museum. Today, an extensive open-air documentary informs visitors about the events in April 1945. At its centre lies the historic forest area, where numerous traces of its use as a prison have been preserved.
Literature:
  • Horst Seferens, Konserve aus dem Belower Wald. “Ein dünner Hauch von Freiheit“, in: Ines Reich (Hg.), Vom Monument zur Erinnerung. 25 Jahre Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte in 25 Objekten, Berlin 2017
  • Sébastien Farré (unter Mitarbeit von Yan Schubert), From Sachsenhausen to Schwerin. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Death Marches, in: Jean-Luc Blondel u. a. (Hg.), Freilegungen. Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche, Göttingen 2012, S. 282-299
  • Peter Heilbut, Meilensteine. Gestapohaft in Dresden, KZ Sachsenhausen, Todesmarsch (1943-1945), Berlin 2012
  • Carmen Lange, „Ihr Vermächtnis lebt in unseren Taten fort“. Todesmarschgedenken in der DDR, in: Jean-Luc Blondel u. a. (Hg.): Freilegungen. Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche, Göttingen 2012, S. 328-346
  • Günter Morsch/Alfred Reckendrees (Hg.), Befreiung. Sachsenhausen 1945, Berlin 1996

Continue readingcollapse
As the front line moved closer on April 21, 1945, the SS at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp drove more than 33,000 men, women and children on various routes towards the northwest. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which observed the misery along the way in places, could only help a very small number of people. Those who were too weak to continue were shot by the SS in roadside ditches. The Death March on April 23 in Below Forest near Wittstock was interrupted for a short period of time for about 16,000 exhausted prisoners.
Continue readingcollapse
  • Belower Wald, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
  • Mahnmal, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
  • Belower Wald - Vitrine, Foto: Gedenkstätten und Museum Sachsenhausen / Stefan Erhard
Until April 29, 1945, the prisoners camped without shelter and supplies in the forest area, which was fenced off with barbed wire. They dug ground holes or built shelters from branches to protect themselves and in their desperation they ate bark, roots and weeds. The guards stayed in the surrounding farms. The SS allowed the ICRC to distribute aid packages to the prisoners. The helpers set up an emergency hospital in the neighbouring village of Grabow. 132 prisoners who died in the forest camp or in the emergency hospital are buried in the cemetery in Grabow. The Death March set off again after six days. The convoys left the forest camp heading north. They were liberated by Soviet and American troops in the first few days of May.

Since 1975, a column in Below Forest commemorates the victims of the Death March. Six years later, a memorial site was set up as an addition to the Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen memorial. In 2002, right-wing extremists carried out an arson attack on the former museum. Today, an extensive open-air documentary informs visitors about the events in April 1945. At its centre lies the historic forest area, where numerous traces of its use as a prison have been preserved.
Literature:
  • Horst Seferens, Konserve aus dem Belower Wald. “Ein dünner Hauch von Freiheit“, in: Ines Reich (Hg.), Vom Monument zur Erinnerung. 25 Jahre Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätte in 25 Objekten, Berlin 2017
  • Sébastien Farré (unter Mitarbeit von Yan Schubert), From Sachsenhausen to Schwerin. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Death Marches, in: Jean-Luc Blondel u. a. (Hg.), Freilegungen. Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche, Göttingen 2012, S. 282-299
  • Peter Heilbut, Meilensteine. Gestapohaft in Dresden, KZ Sachsenhausen, Todesmarsch (1943-1945), Berlin 2012
  • Carmen Lange, „Ihr Vermächtnis lebt in unseren Taten fort“. Todesmarschgedenken in der DDR, in: Jean-Luc Blondel u. a. (Hg.): Freilegungen. Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche, Göttingen 2012, S. 328-346
  • Günter Morsch/Alfred Reckendrees (Hg.), Befreiung. Sachsenhausen 1945, Berlin 1996

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Arrival planner

Belower Damm 1

16909 Wittstock/Dosse

Weather Today, 8. 8.

11 26
Partly cloudy throughout the day.

  • Tuesday
    12 27
  • Wednesday
    12 29

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Tourist information

Tourismusverband Prignitz e.V.

Großer Markt 4
19348 Perleberg

Tel.: +49 (0) 3876-30741920
Fax: +49 (0) 3876-30741929

Weather Today, 8. 8.

11 26
Partly cloudy throughout the day.

  • Tuesday
    12 27
  • Wednesday
    12 29

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