But as the snow thickened I wondered if I’d reach the camp at all. Red Cross officials trying to get to the camp in the chaos of the final days of war had to turn back, such was the flow of refugees moving the other way.A few months after the war, when Vera Atkins drove out this way to start her investigation, she was stopped at a Russian checkpoint; the camp was inside the Russian zone of occupation and access by other Allied nationals was restricted.
A Guernsey woman called Julia Barry lived in Nettlebed in Oxfordshire. A Russian survivor was thought to be working ‘at the mother and baby unit, Leningrad railway station’.The camp took its name from the small village that adjoins the town of Fürstenberg and lies about fifty miles due north of Berlin, off the road to Rostock on Germany’s Baltic coast.Women arriving in the night sometimes thought they were near the coast because they tasted salt on the wind; they also felt sand underfoot.* * * From Berlin’s Tegel airport it takes just over an hour to reach Ravensbrück.The first time I drove there, in February 2006, heavy snow was falling and a lorry had jack-knifed on the Berlin ring road, so it would take longer.
Others were rounded up simply because the Nazis considered them inferior beings and wanted them removed from society: prostitutes, criminals, down-and-outs and Gypsies.