Yes, the photo is from a concentration camp – Sachsenhausen, in fact. The “model” camp. “Work liberates” is the rough translation of the horrible euphemism on the gate.
Right after I took this picture, a guy asked me to take his picture beside the gate. Yes, he did. Paul says he would have refused. I wish I had.
Instead, I took it and then continued wandering around, even more bothered than before. I wanted to chase after the guy and get him to delete the photo, which struck me as completely disrespectful and which I had been a culprit of. I found it really off-putting that he posed at a concentration camp as if it were any other landmark. Tens of thousands of people DIED at Sachsenhausen. It embodies human suffering and vile government practices. How could he treat such a place as suitable for another tacky vacation snapshot?
I witnessed the same kind of disrespectful, self-absorption at the Holocaust Memorial in the heart of Berlin. People climbed up on the stones and even played jumping games to ensure they got the best smiling shots of themselves, their friends, and their families. I kept telling myself they were just caught up in vacation mode and being tacky and oblivious, rather than cold and heartless. I kept thinking maybe by interacting with the sheer magnitude of the memorial and later, by seeing the pictures, it’ll hit them that the football-field magnitude is not for their photo opportunities but to commemorate Germany’s WWII Jewish genocide. Maybe.
Sure, I could think all of that. Really, I just wanted to shout: “Show some respect.”