A Lesson to Remember at Flossenburg Concentration Camp

For Americans, like myself, World War II stories are fresh in our minds. As we’re traveling around the country, we try our best to visit them and keep reminding ourselves what can happen if we are not careful, mindful. One of the things that are abundant in Germany are concentration camps, and unlike the names of Dachau and Auschwitz which have been engraved on our brains.

Flossenburg Concentration Camp is one of thousands of camps during World War II that no one has heard of, yet millions of people of all ages and gender were imprisoned, or worse, in these unforgotten hells. The numbers of concentration camps during the Second World War is staggering. Numbers vary depending on your source, however up to 42,500 camps have been named, some extermination camps, some work camps.

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KZ Flossenburg Concentration Camp Entrance.
The old administrative building of Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

KZ Gedenkstatte = Flossenburg Concentration Camp Memorial

Flossenburg today is a museum and memorial to the many who were imprisoned here. Pictured are some eating utensils.
Eating utensils at Flossenburg Concentration Camp

Flossenburg Facts and History

Flossenburg before the war, was a place people went to enjoy the outdoors in an area of natural beauty. The town was known for its mine and quarry which brought much needed work to the locals. Unfortunately it was the mine that also drew the attention of the Nazis. In the early stages of National Socialism, a new state was being built and the building material of choice was stone. Massive projects like Tempelhof in Berlin had staggering requirements for quarried stone and slave labor was the horrible solution.

A self-walking tour leads you to this building where you can watch a movie about the prisoners and history of KZ Flossenburg in both English and German.

The camp was established in 1939 and immediately prisoners from Dachau Concentration Camp, north of Munich sent some of their overflow. The original inmates were political prisoners, but not much later, prisoners were streaming in from Eastern countries, primarily from Poland and Russia, but no area was unrepresented.

The tower view looking from the Jewish Memorial of KZ Flossenburg Concentration Camp, Germany.

The camp did have a crematorium and many prisoners were killed outright, but the main killer was the mine. Inmates marched to and from the mine in all types of weather with little protection from the elements. They worked 12 hour days, back-breaking and dangerous work in the quarry, moving rocks, digging, and other menial tasks. They were only given one break per day and fed a small bowl of broth. Needless to say, the mine broke many men.

A Lesson to Remember at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
The education center of Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

At the end of the war, when the Allies were advancing the management of the camp ordered the inmates on a Death March so they wouldn’t be discovered. The march was brutal and many more people lost their lives during these late stages of the war.

One of the most famous prisoners, who also lost his life here, was Dietrick Bonhoeffer. A Catholic priest and theologian, his writings and involvement in the Resistance led him to Flossenburg.

There is a lot of reading and information stored in the museum of Flossenburg, location, facts, biographies.
One of the exhibition rooms at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

Visiting Flossenburg Concentration Camp Today

We visited on a cold, wintry day with snow on the ground. For me, it’s the way it should be, because the grayness, the coldness, seeps into my being. As I shiver from the wind, my heart weeps for the inmates that had to endure these hardships.

The church and one of the guard towers at KZ Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
The church and one of the guard towers at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

The site is very well maintained and informative. There is no cost to get in, so you are free to wander the grounds. First you walk through the arch of the administrative center, which opens up onto the old parade grounds where many atrocities took place, least of which was making the prisoners stand for hours as they were counted.

Flossenburg Concentration Camp map.
Flossenburg Concentration Camp map

The exhibition building, with a cinema in the basement, is the best place to start. It tells you the history of Flossenburg Concentration Camp as well as many stories, autobiographies of the inmates, and economic information. The film is offered throughout the day in German, but at 2:30 in the afternoon it is in English, and I would highly recommend it. It is narrated by people who were inmates at the camp and is very moving.

The Jewish Memorial of Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
The Jewish Memorial of Flossenburg Concentration Camp

Further along is the Jewish memorial and the church, along with some towers and the crematorium. All are worth a visit.

A sobering afternoon, but a very informative one, I would recommend anyone in the area to visit the Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

Painted well wishes from children at the Jewish Memorial at Flossenburg.
Painted well wishes from children at the Jewish Memorial.

Getting to KZ Flossenburg

By car: Take autobahn A93 and exit Nuestadt an der Waldnaab or take autobahn A6 and exit Waidhaus. For either way, once you leave the autobahn follow the signs to “KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenburg.”  From: Grafenwoehr 45 min., Munich 2 hrs., Stuttgart 3 hr., Wiesbaden 3.5 hrs., and Düsseldorf 5.5 hrs.

By Public Transporation: Take the train to Weiden in der Oberpfalz, then you must take Bus number 6272 to Flossenburg. It takes 45 minutes once you get to Weiden.

Cost: Free

Children: I would not take children below the age of about ten. The exhibits are all reading, and I think a small child could get easily bored.

A Lesson to Remember at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
Biographies of the many inmates at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.

Dogs are not allowed.

Have you been to Flossenburg Concentration Camp?

Save KZ Flossenburg Concentration Camp for later.

A Lesson to Remember at Flossenburg Concentration Camp in northern Bavaria. Click her to find out more.

25 thoughts on “A Lesson to Remember at Flossenburg Concentration Camp”

  1. Corrine, thank you for taking the time to do this website. My wife and I plan to visit Flossenburg next year. I have been reading about Bonhoeffer, his life, resistance and death. He is considered a modern-day martyr by some. His statue is on the west exterior of the Westminster Abbey in London. He was was a Lutheran pastor and seminary teacher (not Catholic). Thank you again, for this sobering, but important, website.

  2. Does anyone know where I might find a list of the autobiographies mentioned here? I have seen elsewhere that a person with my (rather uncommon) last name was imprisoned here.

  3. i am currently writing a novel based upon the Jewish hospital in Berlin that survived until the end of the war and the events occurring inside this camp. it is beyond sobering and truly eye-opening for me to write and research about; especially considering my family’s Ashkenazi-German origins and own experiences with camps similar to this one. I truly hope I will be able to visit these camps in person. I have respects to pay for the people who suffered here, and the desire to grow closer to the past. In my eyes, after all, it is the unflinching look at the past that triggers a blissful future.

  4. Corinne, thanks for your post. My dad was in the army unit that liberated Flossenburg, and I’ve wanted to visit for years. It’s out of the way from the larger cities in Germany and Austria, so we decided not to go. But now I really want to make the effort. It’s still on my list. I did visit Dachau and plan to go to Ravensbruck this year. These reminders are sobering but so needed.

    1. Sharon, Please let me know if you go, we are so close to it. That’s such an amazing thing to be connected to the liberation of the camp. I implore you not to miss it. It really was informational.

  5. I didn’t know anything about Flossenburg Concentration Camp, but then there were so many! Very educational post. People shouldn’t be allowed to forget these atrocities. #WeekendTravelInspiration

  6. I had no idea there were so many camps. Heartbreaking! I haven’t visited the camps in Europe. When I was in Cambodia I visited the S-21 prison and there were a lot of moments when I just could not breath. Even now, I get distressed thinking about the place and the atrocities that happened there.

  7. I was not aware that there were so many concentration camps. I thought that most of the horrors occurred in a handful of camps. It is hard to understand how anybody could allow the atrocities and treatment of the prisoners you describe.

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