Only all women’s camp
Ravensbrueck was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women. At the end of autumn 1938, Himmler decided to establish a concentration camp for women in Ravensbrück. This location was chosen by Himmler because it was out-of-the-way and at the same time easy to reach. Ravensbrück was a small village located in a beautiful area with many forests and lakes, not far from Furstenberg. There was a good road from Furstenberg to Ravensbrück and the rail station of Furstenberg had a direct link to Berlin.
At the end of 1938, 500 prisoners were transferred from Sachsenhausen to Ravensbrück in order to build the new camp. They built 14 barracks, a kitchen, an infirmary, as well as a small camp for men, which was totally isolated from the women’s camp. A side view of the camp The whole camp was surrounded by a high wall with electrified barbed wires on the top.
First to arrive
The first prisoners arrived in Ravensbrück on May 18, 1939 were 860 German women and 7 Austrian women.
From this time, the number of prisoners increased dramatically, 400 gypsy women from Austria arrived on May 29, 1939 and on September 28, 1939, the first women from Poland arrived in the camp.
Life in the camp
After the war began, the population of the camp became more international, and soon there were prisoners coming from 20 European countries. The conditions of life in Ravensbrück were as shameful and difficult as in all the other concentration camps death by starvation, beating, torture, hanging, and shooting happened daily.
... survival on the part of the women. When they first arrived into the camps, the women that were selected for work detail ... of inferior races, the Jews and the Gypsies. Prisoners of the camps were given distinctive insignia for identification purposes. All ... experiments, including castration. After the war, homosexual concentration camp prisoners were not acknowledged as victims of Nazi persecution, and ...
The women who were too weak to work were transferred to be gassed at the Uckermark “Youth Camp” located nearby Ravensbruck or to Auschwitz. Others were killed by lethal injections or used for “medical” experiments by the SS doctors. Several SS companies surrounded the camp where the prisoners had to work day and night until they died by weakness and illness.
Due to the constant growth of the population, the camp had to be enlarged four times during the war.
By the end of 1941, there were 12,000 prisoners. In 1942, several convoys of Russian women were transferred to Ravensbrück. By the end of 1942, the population was 15,000, and it reached 42,000 by the end of 1943. As in the others concentration camps, Ravensbrück had a crematory, and in November 1944, the SS decided to build a gas chamber. At this time, the total population of the camp was 80,000. Women at work building new parts to the camp
More than 132,000 women and children were incarcerated in Ravensbrück. It is estimated that 92,000 of them died in the camp by starvation, executions, or weakness.
During the last months of the war, and due to the rapid advance of the Russian Army, the SS decided to exterminate as many prisoners as they could, in order to avoid any testimony about what happened in the camp. For example, 130 babies and pregnant women were gassed in March 1945.
The camp was liberated by the Russian Army on April 30th, 1945. The survivors of the Death March were liberated in the following hours by a Russian scout unit.