Approximately 123,000 women of over 40 nationalities were prisoners at Ravensbrück. Next to the women's section at Auschwitz II - Birkenau, Ravensbrück was the largest women's camp. About 26,000 female prisoners perished there. Over the course of its existence, the camp became a complex of facilities for different kinds of forced labour, a huge transit camp of forced labour detached to many different places and in many different shapes and forms.
In the beginning, Ravensbrück oversaw almost all concentration subcamps with female prisoners in entire Germany, but later this system proved unwieldy and was abandoned in favour of a system based more on location. Many of the original Ravensbrück subcamps were subsequently handed over to main camps that were geographically closer.
In the main camp, conditions systematically worsened due to overcrowding and maltreatment, and the infirmary buildings, instead of helping, became known as "dying zones" where typhus and diphtheria raged. The infirmary also became a center for pseudo-medical experiments from SS physicians.
Read more: Ravensbrück concentration camp
Ravensbrück is part of a series of journeys that I'm undertaking to photograph the blue skies precisely above the (last known) location of every single one of the 1,075 concentration camps that have ever existed, as part of an photography/book/installation project called The Blue Skies Project. The project has proven quite immense and almost impossible to hold on to single-handedly – with staggering logistics to match – but I'm hanging in there.