Far from tourist crowds and souvenir shops, the Buchenwald Memorial and concentration camp sits as a silent reminder of the horrific acts of Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. Buchenwald was the largest concentration camp on German soil, established in 1937. It is estimated that over 230,000 prisoners passed through its main gate, including 350 western Allied prisoners of war, and over 50,000 prisoners perished in the forced labor camp at the hands of the Nazis.

While it does not compare in scale to Auschwitz in Poland, the inmate camp at Buchenwald is quite large. Visitors can see the main gate, original fence line, detention cell building, canteen, crematorium and pathology department. The foundations and ruins of several original buildings can be seen as well. Expect to spend about three hours touring the inmate camp. Guided tours are offered for a fee, and an audio guide can be rented as well. Given the graphic nature of the camp, this attraction is not recommended for travelers under age 14. Travelers should visit the official Buchenwald website at http://www.buchenwald.de/ for more information on outdoor facilities.

How to Get There 

Buchenwald is approximately 300km south-west of Berlin outside the city of Weimar and is accessible by rail. Trains depart daily from the main train station in Berlin, Hauptbahnof, or Berlin Hbf. Travelers staying in Berlin can get to Berlin Hbf via the U55, S5, S7, S9 and S75 lines.

Train schedules are available and tickets can be booked up to 90 days in advance (for a big discount) on the official German Rail website, http://www.bahn.com/. When searching for schedules or tickets, the starting point of the journey is Berlin Hauptbahnof, and the destination is Weimar (Thur) Hauptbahnof. As you start typing either station name, a list of choices will be presented to you in a selection list. Select the appropriate station. Also - remember that European dates are written Day/Month/Year when selecting your dates. Tickets can be printed online and are generated via Adobe PDF which can be saved to your computer. It is recommended that travelers follow the ticket instructions and print on A4 paper, as some travelers in the past have had to purchase new tickets on board the train when the conductor would not accept their tickets printed on American letter size paper. This is rare, but it can happen. Travelers can also purchase tickets at the train station via automatic ticket machines. Please note that discount tickets must be booked in advance and are not available at the station.

Train tickets are printed in German - so how do you know what was booked? Here are some tips to decoding your ticket. Klasse is the train class (1 for first class, 2 for second class). Erw or Erwachsene indicates the number of persons. Halt is the stop/station, zeit is the time. gleis is the platform and fahrt is the train number. For reservations, wg is the wagon or car number, pl is the seat, fenster indicates a window seat and gang indicates and aisle seat. Tickets printed online will not list a departure platform for Berlin Hbf. Check the train schedule boards at the station when you arrive to see from which platform your train will be departing.

The journey to Weimar is approximately two hours and twenty minutes, and typically requires at least one transfer. The main leg of the journey is via an express train, Inter-City Express (ICE), then a transfer to an Inter-City (IC) for the last leg of the journey. The German countryside is dotted with castles and other sights which make for an interesting journey.

After arriving in Weimar, travelers can either take a taxi to Buchenwald which costs about 15 Euro, or take bus number 6 in the direction of Buchenwald Gedenkstatte (not Ettersburg). Bus tickets run 1.70 Euro per person. The bus runs once every hour at 49 minutes past the hour. The bus drops travelers off across from the Buchenwald information office. When returning to Weimar Hbf, travelers will take the same bus (number 6) in the direction of Vollersroda. The return bus from Buchenwald also comes once every hour, at 26 minutes past the hour. There are sandwich/coffee shops at the train station for a lunch break. Buchenwald does have a very small buffet-style cafeteria which serves light German food. Menus are only available in German.

Buchenwald is definitely well worth the trip from Berlin, and offers a unique experience that travelers will never forget.  

Buchenwald Main Gate    

Fence Line