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Winning scheme uncovers sombre traces of the past

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An international landscape design competition for the former women's concentration camp of Ravensbruck, near the town of Furstenberg in Gemany, has been won by the Berlin and Munich-based practice of Burger + Tischer, in collaboration with architect Philipp Oswalt and historian Stefanie Brauer.

Ravensbruck was the largest women's concentration camp administered by the German Reich. Some 132,000 women were imprisoned there between 1939 and 1945; many died there. After the war the 140ha site was occupied by the Soviet army and used for military puposes until 1993, during which period the topography and layout of the grounds were much changed.

In the winning scheme, some of the dilapidated buildings from the Soviet period are removed, and teams of volunteers carry out a gradual excavation - 'a search for traces' to expose old foundations, or building footprints, and outline the plan of the camp. Its boundaries will then be accentuated by reforestation. In the part in which young people were detained, where no visible reminders exist, the memorial becomes a field of flowers.

The history of the camp will be presented in exhibitions at key areas, such as the ss living quarters (biographies of the perpetrators), bath facilities (arrival procedure) and infirmary (medical experiments). The camp's former entwinement in the daily life of nearby Furstenberg will be emphasised with, for instance, signs at significant sites in the town.

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