The camp was established in 1936. It was located at the edge of Berlin, hence having a special position among the German concentration camps: the administrative centre of all concentration camps was in Oranienburg, and Sachsenhausen became a training centre for SS troops. Although there was a gas chamber in Sachsenhausen, the mass murders with gas took place in other concentration camps further east.
The front gates to Sachsenhausen contains the infamous slogan as seen in the photo that translates as "Work Makes You Free". About 200,000 prisoners were in Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. Almost 100,000 people died from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition on pneumonia from the freezing cold. Many died in violent medical experiments or were executed. Amongst those executed was Grand Prix motor racing champion, William Grover-Williams.
Sachsenhausen was the site of the largest counterfitting operation ever. The Nazis forced Jewish artisans to produce fake American and British currency. Over one billion dollars in fake cash was recovered. The Germans were unable to put their plan into action. This fake currency is considered very valuable by collectors.
Prior to the liberation of the camp the SS guards forced the prisoners to march with them to other camps further west. Most of the totally exhausted prisoners did not survive this last march; collapsing prisoners were shot by the SS. On April 22, 1945, 3000 prisoners who had stayed in the camp due to their inability to go, were liberated by the Red Army.