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A look into the documents

In July 1936, the Nazis established the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin. It was one of the first concentration camps and also served the Nazis as a training site for camp commandants and guards. In its early years, the camp primarily held political opponents of the regime. Between 1936 and 1945, the Nazis deported a total of around 200,000 people to Sachsenhausen.

Felix Cytrin was one of the prisoners put to work in the Operation Bernhard counterfeiting program, in which Jewish prisoners were forced to forge foreign currency worth billions. This was intended to destabilize the economies of the Allies. Towards the end of the war, equipment, documents and boxes of counterfeit money were submerged in Lake Toplitz in Austria; they were not retrieved until many years later. The recovered documents, copies of which are preserved today in the ITS archive, include a list of the names of the counterfeiters. Felix Cytrin was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen from December 7, 1939, and was deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp in February 1945. He survived the Nazi terror and emigrated on June 6, 1949, from Bremerhaven to the USA.

Prisoners began to be evacuated from Sachsenhausen on April 21, 1945. Over 30,000 completely exhausted prisoners were forced on a death march. Sick prisoners who were unable to walk were left behind in the camp, where they were liberated on April 22, 1945, by Soviet and Polish soldiers.