In May 1939, almost 900 female prisoners from KZ Lichtenburg were transported to KZ Sachsenhausen, which was built by prisoners. They were sent to work on the erection of various facilities, including barracks for SS guards. Violence, humiliation and exhausting forced labour performed in spite of insufficient food were part of the everyday in the camp. In 1940 an industrial area was created nearby, where imprisoned women were used for forced labour. Most of the new prisoners came from Poland. In the following year, additional barracks were built for a smaller men's camp, because people were needed for harder work. In June 1942, the Uckermark sub-camp for girls and young women was established nearby. From July that year, Karl Gebhardt, personal physician of Heinrich Himmler, performed cruel pseudo-medical experiments in which people were injured and their wounds were then infected to check the effectiveness of drugs. Whoever survived those experiments was often crippled or killed. Moreover, medical personnel performed forced sterilisation, castration and abortion, and they murdered newborns. Many female prisoners were sent to other concentration camps and forced into prostitution. Because of the growing demand from the armaments industry, Siemens company built production facilities near the camp. Other nearby plants also used the servile labour of the prisoners. After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, conditions in the camp deteriorated drastically as 12,000 women and children were brought to Ravensbrück.
Facing the approaching eastern front, evacuation marches were formed in April 1945. On the 30th of April, the Red Army liberated the camp, which still kept 2,300 prisoners. For many women the price of liberation was very high, because Soviet soldiers raped the female prisoners.
The victims of KZ Ravensbrück included many Polish women: