Refugees Being Housed in Buchenwald Concentration Camp

September 12, 2015

2 min read

Refugees are flooding Europe, and due to a shortage of temporary housing, 21 refugees are being housed in the former Buchenwald camp near Weimar, Germany. The town of Shwerte decided on the unusual move after it absorbed 200 refugees and had no room or funds to provide for more.

The town council’s decision was announced in January and the site is carpeted, has basic cooking facilities, a television, and bunk beds. The mayor of the district, Christian Hanke, said: “It is an emergency solution, but it is unavoidable. There is a lot of room in the hangars.”

Though the refugees seem grateful and content in their temporary housing, the decision has drawn criticism. Der Spiegel newspaper quoted Birgit Naujoks, head of the refugee council in North Rhine-Westphalia state, who said it was  alarming and disconcerting, at the very least insensitive.

In 1937, the camp became one of the first and largest Nazi concentration camps, the site where 250,000 Jews from all over Europe were subjected to forced labor, and over 56,000 were murdered. The building that now houses the asylum seekers is the last building that remains of what was once an enormous complex, which was demolished in 1950.

After the war, the concentration camp was used by the Soviet Union for political prisoners. According to German media, the former barracks building the refugees now occupy has also been used as storage, as an artist’s workshop and as a kindergarten.

Germany is being challenged to absorb refugees however the situation is expected to be even more difficult. Last year, approximately 200,000 refugees sought asylum in Germany but this year the number is expect to be four times that.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “’What we are experiencing now is something that will occupy and change our country in coming years.” Last week, Merkel pledged an additional 6 billion Euros to help the refugees.

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