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German History in Documents and Images
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Official Opening of the Memorial at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (April 22, 1961)
Dedicated in April 1961, the memorial at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was the third “National Memorial” opened in the GDR; it was preceded by the Buchenwald (1958) and Ravensbrück (1959) memorials. The three memorials, all of which had been designed by architects Ludwig Deiters, Horst Kutzat, and Kurt Tausendschön, were overseen by the Ministry of Culture. A statute ruled that “the struggle of the German working class” and “the role of the Communist Party as the strongest and leading force in the fight against the Nazi regime” were to stand at the center of the historical narrative advanced by these memorials; at the same time, the supposed “revival of fascism” in West Germany and the GDR’s “historic role” were also to be highlighted. This photograph shows honorary guests being led by Walter Ulbricht (front row, 5th from left) after the opening ceremony. Photograph by Gerhard Kiesling.