Struthof Museum, Alsace

I’ve always known that the French regions Alsace and Lorraine have a lot in common with my home region in Poland – Pomerania and I couldn’t wait to visit this land. What was the main similarity for me? They’re all border regions, with a lot of German influence in the local languages and culture. What is especially interesting to me, it’s the similar fate of these lands during WWII. Hitler treated Alsace and Lorraine as the old German regions, same as Pomerania. Alsace and Lorraine, so was Pomerania, were annexed to the 3rd Reich and became part of the German state. Also, inhabitants were treated the same way – men were forced to join the Wehrmacht, which wasn’t obligatory in other parts of occupied France or Poland. There is one more similarity – the concentration camps. Not only they existed both in Alsace and Pomerania, but also they had similar names… Stutthof in Pomerania, Struthof in Alsace. Both names were originally connected to the villages near the camps. What a coincidence, isn’t it?

This year I finally managed to visit Struthof Museum in Alsace. It was extremely interesting to me since I worked couple of years as a tour guide in Stutthof Museum in Pomerania… So the subject of concentration camps is close to my heart. I’ve seen a lot of places like this, but the visit in Alsace turned out to be the most shocking for me. “My” museum is situated on the flat surface, 1 m below the sea level, well hidden in the woods, close to the sea. Struthof camp turned out to be hidden up on the hill, 3 or 4 km going up by car through an abrupt road. And the view from  the top was simply breathtaking – there were hills and mountains all around me and I couldn’t believe that prisoners could enjoy such a view of freedom every day, being locked up in the most terrible place you can imagine.