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Stutthof or Sachsenhausen

We are taking a cruise in July, which stops in Gdańsk - Poland, Visby - Sweden, Tallinn - Estonia, Stockholm - Sweden, Berlin, and Copenhagen.

I would like to do a concentration camp tour during our trip, and the only two I can find within the appropriate distance from a port is Stuttof and Sachsenhausen. I’m leaning toward Stuttof, because there are a few other things I’d like to do in Berlin, but I’d like other’s opinions on which camp is the better to visit.

I’m also open to suggestions if I’m missing any other camps along our route. The primary purpose of this visit is for our 14 year old son, who is interested in WWII and the Holocaust.

Thank You!

Posted by
27427 posts

If you check your cruise documents carefully, I think you'll find the ship doesn't actually stop in Berlin. Berlin is nowhere near the coast. It's a long slog to Berlin from the Baltic coast ports. Sachsenhausen is north of Berlin but not by much, so whether you head to Sachsenhausen or Berlin on that day, you will be spending many hours on buses or trains rather than actually sightseeing with your feet on the ground. The usual suggestion is to use the time closer to where your ship actually docks. There are some lovely towns on and near that coast. I haven't been there, so I'm not the best person to make specific suggestions.

Tallinn has a lot of sights related to WWII and the Cold War. Your son might like to research these online to see what sounds most interesting:

  • Okupatsioonide Museum: history of occupations between 1940 and 1991. I've read the audio guide isn't very good; I used the English-language text materials instead. This would be the primary stop, I think.

  • KGB Prison Cells (this is Cold War, though it's possible the Gestapo used the same building during the war; I don't remember)

  • KGB Tour at the Viru Hotel. This is interesting. It needs to be pre-booked. (Cold War)

  • Eesti Sojamuuseum (War Museum). This is well northeast of the city. There is public transportation, but I wouldn't spend the time making the trek on a cruise stop.

A lot of things are closed on Monday, so check the calendar carefully.

Posted by
14580 posts

Stutthof is close to Gdansk. Sachsenhausen is in Oranienburg which you can reach by the regional train from Berlin Hbf. Some years ago I was on a regional train from Berlin Hbf with the terminus as Stralsund, extremely crowded with 20 somethings.

Strange, couldn't figure why until the train pulled in at Oranienburg, when they all got off making the coach pretty empty. I was en route to Neustrelitz as a day excursion.

If you're leaning towards Stutthof , it is in the area of the lower Vistula, much from Berlin.

Getting from Berlin to Gdansk takes 8-9 hours depending on the route or transfers. The first camps, as has been pointed out here, were Dachau first, followed by Sachsenhausen a few years later to house political, real or imaginary enemies, German communists, and the like.

Posted by
14580 posts

The other camp , if you are measuring between Stutthof and Sachenhausen is Ravensbruck , the women's camp. Still, that is also far from Berlin.

Posted by
4 posts

I’m only looking at these two because they are close to where we will be via our cruise.

I'm not looking for travel advice, I’m trying to find out which of the two camps are better for visiting.

Posted by
2674 posts

If you decide for Sachsenhausen you can choose any train connection combi from Warnemünde Werft via Rostock to Oranienburg station directly. You do not have to travel into Berlin Hbf (main station) and back again - except you would like to visit also Topography of Terror which would give your son a wider picture how this could happened.

Posted by
7569 posts

Unless the ship is staying overnight, Sachsenhausen independently is not a realistic alternative. I have not been to Stutthof, but it looks satisfactory. You could hire a car and driver, or book an established tour. Naturally you want to be back in time so the ship does not leave without you. Because 14 is often stated as the minimum advised age to visit some KL, you might want to be ready with age-ID, just in case it (speculatively) comes up.

Since you have stated that you do not want travel advice, I will make no comment about the "best" use of time on a cruise stop. We did not reach a KL until our fifth trip to Germany, when it was convenient to take a city bus from Weimar to Buchenwald. I don't remember Stutthof coming up on this newsboard, but Warnemunde comes up regularly:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/12-hours-in-warnemunde

Posted by
7569 posts

For reference, I have been on two or more, rather long-distance "ship excursions" where the multiple busses were hours late for the ship's departure. In one case, the ship was forced to move across the harbor to another pier, because where they initially tied up was reserved for another, arriving, ship. But because they were the ship's excursions, the ship did not depart. And in fact, they held-over considerable amounts of food for the meal we all "missed."

Posted by
14580 posts

In a way your decision is made for you regarding convenience since the ship is providing transport to Sachsenhausen, which you can take advantage of, otherwise choosing Stutthof, you'll have to get there on your own after a 8-9 train ride from Berlin to the lower Vistula area. If logistics are irrelevant here, then choose Stutthof.

Warnemünde is quite far away from Stutthof , nowhere near it. Warnemünde is close to Rostock, Stutthof is located in the lower Vistula in the former area of West Prussia.

Posted by
27427 posts

Fred, they're on a cruise. They will not be traveling overland from Germany to Poland.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi - I am on the same cruise, leaving Amsterdam on July 5. I am going to Stuttof. The Celebrity excursions that visit Sachsenhausen are currently sold out.

Posted by
3 posts

Tallinn and Copenhagen have Holocaust museums and history. If you want, send me a DM and I can recommend sites to visit.

Posted by
4 posts

@janisc1234 - I found some options for Stutthof through Gdansk Trips. They've been very nice to work with. They also offer a group tour to Stutthof, which still has availability.

Posted by
2674 posts

@janisc1234 - you can easily self-organize visiting Sachsenhausen.

Search and choose a train connection in DB journey planner from "Warnemünde" to "Sachsenhausen Gedenkstätte, Oranienburg". From Oranienburg train station to Sachsenhausen Gedenkstätte you can also take a taxi infront of the station.