Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial
(Branch of the Museum of the History of Hamburg)
Phone: +49 40 / 428 96 03; Fax +49 40 / 428 96 525
April-September: Tuesday - Friday: 10.00 - 17.00hr, Saturday & Sunday: 10.00 - 18.00hr
October - March: Tuesday - Sunday: 10.00 - 17.00hr
S21 Bergedorf, then Bus 227 "KZ-Gedenkstätte" (Memorial Site, Commemorative
House and Archive) or "Justizvollzuganstalt Vielande" (Document Centre: Exhibition)
Duration of journey from Hamburg city-centre station: 50 minutes
Motorway A 25 direction Geesthacht, exit Curslack, thereon signposted.
Neuengamme Concentration Camp 1938-1945
Map of the former Neuengamme Concentration Camp
Neuengamme Concentration Camp Prisoners.
In December 1938, the SS moved an external command group with one hundred
inmates from the concentration camp Sachsenhausen to an empty brickworks in
Hamburg-Neuengamme. The inmates were to build a new concentration camp with a
large brick factory. The bricks produced there were to be used for the "Fuhrer
buildings", part of the National Socialists' redevelopment plans for the river
Elbe in Hamburg.
Neuengamme Concentration Camp brickworks of the SS owned company "Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke".
In early summer 1940, the external command was expanded and Neuengamme was
placed as an independent concentration camp under the direct control of the
inspectorate of concentration camps. The concentration camp prisoners, whose
numbers quickly swelled into the thousands, worked on the construction of the
camp and the brickworks, on the regulation of the Dove-Elbe river and the
building of a branch canal, as well as on the mining of clay. Even during the
camps's construction numerous inmates died as a result of the hard labour that
had to be performed in all weathers and under the relentless goading by the SS;
physically emaciated they all died of illness and hunger or were the victims of
Reconstructed Clay Pit.
During the war, tens of thousands of people were deported as concentration camp
prisoners to Neuengamme from all over occupied Europe by the Gestapo and the SS
Sicherheitsdienst (intelligence service). In most cases they were
incarcerated for having resisted German occupation, having refused to perform
forced labour or simply as victims of racial persecution. The proportion of
Germans among the inmates decreased to approximately ten percent.
View of the former Prisoners' Camp.
Work assignments in the war industries
From 1942 on, inmates were assigned to work in armaments production. Initially
the work was performed in workshops set up in the grounds of the camp; later on,
inmates were sent upon request directly to the factories. In the final years
of the war, this led to satellite camps of Neuengamme Concentration Camp being
set up in the vicinity of military suppliers all over northern Germany. Other
satellite camps were used in the construction of factories, military
installations and temporary housing developments, as well as, towards the end
of the war, for digging anti-tank ditches. In many large north German cities,
concentration camp prisoners cleared rubble and removed corpses in the wake of
bombing raids. In all, Neuengamme concentration camp had more than 80 satellite
camps, of which more than twenty were women's camps. In the spring of 1945, 40,000
inmates, almost one third of whom were women, were forced to perform slave
labour in the satellite camps for the armaments industry. At that time up to
14,000 inmates were interned in the completely overcrowded main camp.
Thousands of inmates were hanged, shot, gassed, killed by lethal injection or
shipped to the death camps Auschwitz and Majdanek. During the last weeks of the
war, more than 10,000 died during death marches and transportation. Of these,
7,000 perished on May 3rd 1945 when the "Cap Arcona" and "Thielbek", two
concentration camp ships, were sunk in Neustädter Bay. Approximately 55,000
of the 106,000 inmates at Neuengamme Concentration Camp died.
Neuengamme to Sandbostel Death March, April 1945: 346 Kilometres.
The grounds of Neuengamme Concentration Camp after 1945 - The Memorial
After the war, the former concentration camp buildings were initially used to
intern members of the SS, NSDAP functionaries and officials of the
Wehrmacht and the Nazi State. In 1948, the British occupation authorities
returned the camp to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg which then
established a correction centre on the premises. In the late 1960s the judicial
authorities built a further prison within the former concentration camp, on the
spot where the camp's clay pits and stockpiles had been located.
Following the inauguration of a memorial column in 1953, the concentration camp
was in 1965 transformed into a memorial site with a commemorative column,
national plaques and the sculpture "The Dying Prisoner". The memorial is located
on the site of the former concentration camp nursery, where the SS ordered the
ashes from the camp's crematorium to be scattered as fertilzer. The memorial
site was extended in 1981 to include the Document Centre, which in early 1995
was then converted into a memorial building to house the names of all the known
"The Dying Prisoner"
In 1989, the Senat of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg decided to
transfer the section of the Vierlande Correction Centre which still stood on
the grounds of the former concentration camp to another location, in order to
avoid the dignity of this site being further overshadowed by the continued
presence of a penal centre. In 1992, a commission headed by Hamburg's mayor,
Dr. Voscherau, presented plans for a comprehensivively redesigned memorial site
incorporating the original buildings; these plans are to be carried out within
the coming years. With these changes, Neuengamme will, in the words of the
commission, gain "even greater national importance as a commemorative site,
providing a major European focus for the debate on the crimes perpetrated by
National Socialist Germany, as well as being a place for international
commemoration of the innumerable victims of the Nazi regime."
The grounds of Neuengamme Concentration Camp today: The original buildings,
stone testimonials and other traces of the past
From the early eighties on, it has largely been thanks to the persistent efforts
of the Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme (an international group of
former camp prisoners), the youth club Landesjugendring of Hamburg and
other action groups that evidence of the concentration camp's history has been
collated and its remains protected. During a peace camp in 1982, young people
from twelve European countries laid out a tour path designed to give visitors
an historical insight into the former concentration camp. In 1984, following a
decree by the Senate and Parliament of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg,
all buildings and grounds of the former concentration camp outside the
correction centre were placed under protection as historic sites. In the
following years, a Plattenhaus (housing built by camp prisoners using
prefabricated concrete slabs) was reconstructed and the large concentration camp
brickworks underwent considerable restoration to save it from further
dilapidation. During a youth camp in 1994, the railway sidings on the site of
the former camp railway station were reconstructed and an historic goods waggon
Document Centre: exhibition and special teaching facilities
In May 1995, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversity of the liberation,
a new permanent exhibition was opened in the former Walther-Werke, a
concentration camp armaments factory in which inmates produced rifles as forced
labour. The exhibition shows a model of the concentration camp, the inside of
the barracks and numerous other authentic objects. The display of the camp's
history is divided into twenty-five thematic sections. Basic information is
provided by large photographs and summary text panels (also in English). More
detailed information is available in theme files, slipcases containing original
documents, two videotheques (showing film sequences on the topics "Ways to the
camp" and "Self-assertion and resistance") and a computer information point
dealing with the satellite camps. At the heart of the exhibition are the
testimonies spoken by survivers, excerpts of which can be heard in a separate
The concentration camp memorial runs regular film events and Sunday discussion
sessions with former camp prisoners and other contemporary witnesses, as well
as special exhibitions. Information on themes and schedule is available in the
half-yearly programme and via special announcement. The library, the archive
and the photographic archive may be visited on request and following prior
Group tours ("museum talks"), courses, project days for school classes and youth
work-camps are offered by the Museum Educational Service. Projects and events are
also provided by the peace organisation Aktion Sühnezeichen/Friedensdienste.
As part of its "Alternative City Tours" programme, the youth organisation
Laandesjugendring of Hamburg offers regular bus tours to the Neuengamme
Concentration Camp Memorial (which also includes a visit to the Janusz-Korczak-School
Memorial and the Rose Garden for the Children of Bullenhuser Damm).
Bookings for guided tours and museum talks, information on project courses and orders
for teaching material:
Museumspädagogische Dienst der Kulturbehörde
Information on project courses is also available from:
Aktion Sühnezeichen/Friedensdienste (Neuengamme)
Tel: 040/723 74 516
Alternative City Tours:
Tel: 040/319 53 45
Satellite Memorials of Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial:
The Janusz-Korczak-School Memorial and the Rose Garden for
the Children of Bullenhuser Damm.
Fühlsbüttel Concentration Camp and Prison
Poppenbüttel Plattenhaus Memorial
Some Additional Satellite Camps of Neuengamme Concentration Camp:
Neuengamme Concentration Camp and its Satellite Camps.
KZ-Gedenkstätte Ladelund (Ladelund Concentration Camp Memorial)
Tel.: 04666- 4 49 and 04661- 44 00
March to November, Tuesday to Friday 14.00 - 18.00 Hrs.
December to February, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 14.00 - 16.00 Hrs.
Additionally by prior arrangement.
The grounds are freely accessible.
Guided tours are available by prior arrangement.
A catalogue is available in German, Danish and Dutch. (Some of the prisoners were from
Putten in the Netherlands).
This former satellite camp of Neuengamme Concentration Camp was situated in
the small north Friesland village of Ladelund close to the Danish border. More than 300 of
the 2,000 prisoners died in the camp in the winter of 1944.
The concentration camp memorial documents the history of the event in the exhibition
"Konzentrationslager Ladelund 1944" (Ladelund Concentration Camp 1944).
The village cemetery containing the graves of the dead camp prisoners is situated adjacent
to the concentration camp memorial. A footpath takes one from the village to the former camp
KZ-Ausenlager Diago/Tiefstack (Diago/Tiefstack Satellite Concentration Camp)
This was one of the last satellite concentration camps to be established, in mid February 1945,
in an existing camp of huts situated in the grounds of the Diago company. Many of the 350 to 500
women camp prisoners died as a result of malnutrician, inhuman working conditions and the
brutality of the guards. Additional women died in an air-raid. The surviving women prisoners were
deported to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp on 7th April 1945. On their arrival they were immediately
confined in a separate hut.
A women prisoner later recounts:
"We were forced to squat closely pressed together all night long as there was insufficient space
to lie down. Some women were shot in the camp. The final days were the most dreadful and claimed
the most victim's lives."
KZ-Ausenlager Dessauer Ufer (Dessauer Ufer Satellite Concentration Camp)
Dessauer Ufer (im Freihafen)
Former Dessauer Ufer Satellite Concentration Camp in the free port of Hamburg, 1980.
Former Dessauer Ufer Satellite Concentration Camp, canal side.
Former Dessauer Ufer Satellite Concentration Camp, front.
Former Dessauer Ufer Satellite Concentration Camp, front.
Memorial Plaque, situated to the left of the front of the building.
In June 1944 the SS established a camp for over 500 Jewish women in a grain warehouse in the free
port area of Hamburg. Hundreds of other women were distributed to other satellite camps from here.
The women camp prisoners had escaped extermination in Auschwitz by being selected for employment as
slave labour in Hamburg. Many of the women had to rise at 4 a.m. to walk, under guard, to firms in
Willhelmsburg, Moorburg and Finkenwerder, where work began at 6 a.m. The prisoners received only
the poorest of nutrician and were often maltreated. In September 1944 the surviving women were moved
to another satellite camp, and a camp for 1,500 to 2,000 men was established here.
In 1988 a commemorative plaque was erected on the outside wall of the warehouse.
Books and Documentary Films:
Lucille Eichengreen has written of her experiences as a prisoner in the Dessauer Ufer Satellite
Concentration Camp in her book: "Von Asche zum Leben" (Dölling und Galitz Verlag, Hamburg 1992).
Hedi Fried: The Road to Auschwitz: Fragments of a Life.
Bison Books, 1996.
Little Big Sister
Director: David Fisher
The story of Hedi Fried and her sister Livia Fränkel, now living in Sweden, who embark together on a
journey back to the past - Auschwitz. Interwoven throughout the film are excerpts from Hedi Fried's memoirs:
"The Road to Auschwitz: Fragments of a Life", read by actress Bibi Anderson, creating a fascinating dialogue
between the trauma of the past and Hedi's world today. Hedi Fried has embarked upon her "third life" as a
successful psychologist active in her city - Stockholm.
KZ-Ausenlager Langenhorn (Langenhorn Satellite Concentration Camp)
In September 1944, 750 girls and women were imprisoned in what was previously an "Ostarbeiterlager"
(camp for workers from eastern Europe). Most were Jewish girls and women who had been brought here
from Stutthoff Concentration Camp. The women were forced to work in excavating the ground prior to the
building of "PLattenhäusern" (prefabricated houses), and in the armaments industry.
On 4th April 1945 the SS closed down the camp and deported the women prisoners to Sasel
Satellite Concentration Camp and Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.
In mid April 1945 the SS brought sick women from Helmstedt-Beerndorf Satellite Concentration Camp
into the empty camp many of whom died from their debilitated condition.
In 1988 a commemorative stone and an information plaque were erected at No. 54 Essener Straße.
KZ-Ausenlager Neugraben (Neugraben Satellite Concentration Camp)
In September 1944, this satellite concentration camp was established to house 500 Jewish women, most
of whom came from Czechoslovakia. They were forced to produce prefabricated sections of houses from
which they built the "Behelfsheime" (makeshift houses) of the Falkenberg housing estate. They also
had to clear bomb rubble, to dig anti-tank ditches, and work in the essential war industries.
25 women had to live and sleep in a 24 m² sized room. The hygiene conditions were catastrophic.
In February 1945, the camp was closed down and the women were intially deported to Tiefstack
Satellite Concentration Camp and then, shortly before the end of the war, to Bergen-Belsen
Some foundations of the camp buildings are still to be seen, on what is now an area overgrown with
grass, in Falkenbergsweg.
In 1985 a memorial plaque was erected on a bolder on the site. The plaque has been repeatedly
torn from its anchoring.
Neugraben Satellite Concentration Camp
The Establishment of Satellite Concentration Camps
The "final solution of the Jewish question" added a new dimension, in 1941/42, to
the National Socialist terror network of concentration camps. Whereas up
until this time the German armed forces had occupied all the countries they had
invaded, with the exception of Great Britain, in a "blitzkrieg", the invasion of the
USSR in 1942 developed into a long drawn out war of attrition. This necessitated a
considerable increase in production from the German economy which was however
impeded by shortage of raw materials, destruction and damage from air-raids, but
especially by lack of labour.
In addition to prisoners-of-war and numerous individuals abducted from the occupied
countries as forced labour, concentration camp prisoners were increasingly employed
in the armaments industry, and other industries, e.g. in the building and construction
industry. Armament firms were established in the immediate proximity of
concentration camps, or the SS established their own firms within concentration
camps, as in Neuengamme.
However, in 1943/44 this was no longer sufficient as labour became required in
armament factories distant from the camps and in construction and clearing-up work
following air-raids. To avoid lengthy journeys the SS, with the help of the firms
involved, established satellite concentration camps close to these places of work or
directly on the site of the firms.
With the establishment of these satellite concentration camps the Nazis pursued their
system of terror on the very doorsteps of the civilian population i.e. visible to all. The
concentration camp prisoners, men and women, and their guards were visible to
many employees. They also appeared as columns on the streets of towns when
escorted to and from work. Their "zebra uniform" or old threadbare clothes caused a
stir. German foremen and master craftsmen instructed them in their work
and had contact with them. The concentration camp prisoners were thereby a part of
everyday life during the war.
From 1942 onward, and especially in 1944/45, over 70 satellite concentration camps
were established in north Germany, all under the direction of Neuengamme
concentration camp. One of these was the camp in Falkenbergsweg in
While the murder of Jews in gas chambers in the extermination camps in eastern
Europe (e.g. Auschwitz) continued Jewish concentration camp
prisoners were at the same employed as slave labour by the German war economy. Jewish
citizens from all over Europe were immediately "selected" by Mengele and his
assistants on the "ramp" at Auschwitz. Those "selected" as suitable for work were
then further selected as slave labour as required by the German economy. The SS
did not intend to keep these, initially exempted, individuals alive but to "exterminate
them through work". The others, mostly the elderly or mothers with young children
were murdered in the gas chambers. The 500 women in the Neugraben satellite
concentration camp belonged to those individuals who had been "selected" for work.
The Site and Buildings of the Neugraben Satellite Concentration
As the building plans no longer exist it is not possible to establish exactly when the
camp was built. The huts accommodated Italian prisoners-of-war before they
functioned as a satellite camp. The Neugraben satellite concentration camp was in
existence between the 13th September 1944 and the 18th February 1945.
The former building worker, F. Vorbeck, recalls:
In October 1943 I was employed by my firm erecting roof trusses for the
prefabricated housing settlement (temporary housing) in Neugraben. In summer 1944
we were employed in the Falkenbergsweg camp. Our group had the task of enclosing
the huts with fence posts and barbed-wire. It must have been in August 1944. The
women were already in Neugraben in August.
In March 1946, Albert Runkel, a camp guard, testified to Captain R.W. Rose, the
On the 13th September 1944 I became a guard in the Neugraben work camp.
The women prisoners came from the Dessauer Ufer camp located in the free port of
The further transfer of the women to the camp at no. 11 Andreas-Meyer-Straße
probably took place on the 18th February 1945. Mrs Dirks, a resident of Neugraben,
Our family business supplied the camp with milk products. We were not
permitted into the camp. Several women, under guard, collected the food from us.
The women were in the camp in the winter of 1944/45. On the 17th February 1945 my
husband was conscripted. After that the women did not come again.
This is confirmed in a letter dated the 21st February 1945 delivered to a family in
Neugraben by a guard from the Tiefstack satellite concentration camp. One of the
I beg your forgiveness for departing without thanking you for your kindness
and without saying farewell. The move happened so suddenly that we had no
chance. We have already settled in here.
Captain R.W. Rose clarified the sketch he had made while on an inspection of the
camp on the 17th February 1946. He was accompanied by former prisoners, Eva
Donat and Lotte Lang, who informed him of the camp and the site:
Neugraben Satellite Concentration Camp ("Falkenberg").
Neugraben Satellite Concentration Camp ("Falkenberg") and surroundings.
This plan roughly shows the situation of the concentration camp. The area
enclose by barbed-wire is the prisoners' living area. Huts 1 and 2 accommodated 500
women prisoners divided among four blocks. Hut 3 was only half finished and was
never in use. Hut 4 was the wash facility, that, according to former prisoners, was
subdivided sometime after the opening of the camp. The smaller section housed the
camp kitchen where three tubs were installed for cooking. Hut 5 was the latrine.
These huts were enclosed by an outer fence of barbed-wire with watch towers at
alternate corners. The hatched buildings on the map were the guards'
accommodation. The buildings for both prisoners and guards were normal wooden
buildings as in the main Neuengamme concentration camp. The camp was situated
on a hillock directly above the larger camp that accommodated foreign workers.
Neugraben Satellite Concentration Camp (on the right of the photograph).
The aerial photograph confirms the statements of Neugraben residents, survivors'
descriptions and with Captain Rose's plan.
Camp Life and Work
Numerous conversations and correspondence with survivors of the Neugraben camp,
now living in Israel, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, England, Australia and
Germany, have provided a picture of camp life and work.
Lotte Lang gave a very graphic and precise description of camp conditions in her
evidence in the trial against the former guards of the Dessauer
Ufer/Neugraben/Tiefstack satellite camps:
I am 24 years old, Czechoslovakian, born in Prague. ... In September 1944 I
was one of 500 women transferred from the Dessauer Ufer concentration camp to
the Neugraben "Falkenberg" camp. Everyone of us had been arrested because we
were Jews. ... I lived in block III that consisted of 6 large and 2 small rooms. The
large rooms were approximately 6x4 metres in size. 25 women slept in each of these
rooms. The small rooms were approximately 1.5x4 metres in size. 6 kitchen
personnel lived in the one and 4 block wardens in the other. The rooms were
overcrowded. We slept on wooden bunks with only one cover.
The meals were very badly prepared and were totally inadequate. Breakfast: a very
bad coffee. Lunch: nothing. The evening meal consisted of a very thin soup, approx.
200 gm bread, 2 gm margarine and a thin slice of sausage. ...
Our only clothing was: 1 dress, 1 coat, 1 pair of clogs, 1 pair of panties and a vest.
Frequently several prisoners had no shoes at all. The inadequate clothing was the
cause of many problems. There was generally no water for washing and water for
cooking had to be fetched from a distance. It had to be carried in 50 litre containers. It
required approximately 30 minutes for two women to fetch one container of water.
We were unable to wash our clothes. The latrines were in a very unhygienic condition
as it was impossible to clean them. Bugs were widespread in the camp due to the
unhygienic conditions. ...
Prisoner living conditions were dependent upon the camp commander,
Hauptscharführer Kliem. He could have alleviated the life of the prisoners but never
made any attempt to do so, e.g. often the toilet sewer was blocked and the soiled
water lay approximately 30 cm deep around the toilet in the yard and although
Hauptscharführer Kliem could have called a plumber he ordered the prisoners, who
barely had shoes on their feet, to free the drain. This occurred repeatedly. Only when
this proved unsuccessful did he call a plumber.
Medical provision was totally inadequate there being a lack of instruments and
medicines. The only time we could report sick was between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. At any
other time a prisoner could be mortally ill but had to continue working. Diarrhoea was
rampant due to the unhygienic living conditions, especially the soiled toilets and the
poor, inadequate food. The sick-bay was always full. The woman camp doctor was
only allowed a certain number of patients. When there was no bed free the sick had
to continue to work. Those who were lucky received a place in the sick-bay; the
others had to work with a fever or illness. The doctor was impeded by not having
drugs or instruments and, for example, had to perform operations on a wooden table.
At the trial the SS officer responsible for provisions described the food so:
The food was good. For breakfast there was bread, 375 gm, served the
preceding evening, with margarine, sausage, jam, fish paste or curd cheese.
Sometimes there was no bread for breakfast; but this was the case only when
prisoners had eaten it the evening before. As the women set off early for work they
received their lunch in the evening. There was beef, horsemeat and once mutton.
The two testimonies, particularly the descriptions of the evening meal, are different in
the extreme. The former women prisoners, independently of one another, reported:
that evening meals consisted only of a thin soup made from water where possibly
bones or meat were the basis; but there was no meat!
The daily life of the women in Neugraben concentration camp was characterized by
hunger, fatigue and illness; the huts were confined and cold. Not every woman had a
bed, several had to sleep on a paillasse under the table. The women only had the
clothes they wore. They were exposed to the weather on their way to and from, and
at work. The winter of 1944/45 was especially cold and wet, and there was
exceptionally heavy snowfall in December and January. In November 1944 the
precipitation was 261% and in February 1945 230% above the average for the
previous 30 years.
There was no possibility of drying clothes in the camp. Eva Donat testified:
... we could not clean our clothes because although we were allowed to wash
our clothes it was prohibited to hang them out to dry. As we only had the clothes we
wore we often had to wear wet clothes. The camp commander did not allow anything
to be hung on the walls or to be lain out during the day. ...
The women had to assemble for roll call early in the morning before setting out in
columns, with their guards, to the various places of work. The march to work led over
Falkenbergsweg and other streets in Neugraben and took around one to one and a
half hours, as did the return journey. The work day lasted 8 to 9 hours, Monday to
Saturday inclusive. The women were searched for food on their return in the evening
prior to roll call and punishment.
The women had to take over the heavy work from the men: laying the foundations.
The women had to take over the heavy work from the men: placing the outside slabs.
The work was heavy labour previously carried out by male prisoners-of-war. From
Neugraben the women were employed in the following work:
· the production of concrete panels and cavity blocks for the firms Gizzi and
· the building of the temporary-housing estate (Falkenberg estate): quarrying of
gravel, excavation work for bunkers, foundations and water mains, unloading of
building materials at Neugraben railway station, the transport of building materials,
the positioning of concrete panels, and the construction of roads for the estate. The
work was carried out for the firms Prien, Holst and Weseloh.
· clearing-up operations following air-raids in Harburg, Neugraben and
· the digging of anti-tank ditches in Hausbruch.
· work in the Harburg oil industry as part of the Geilenberg programme to maintain
production despite the heavy bombing.
The former prisoner, Helena Brunn, recalls:
... In 1944, under the most inhuman conditions, we were employed in
building the housing estate in Neugraben. It took us approximately 1½ hours to reach
the assembly point where we were divided into groups for the various work places. I
was one of 25 women who, at that time, worked in a cement factory. We had to
smooth the prepared cement mixture. In pairs we had to stack the wooden framed
concrete panels ten high. Then we were employed on a building site where we
erected the walls of buildings: stacked concrete panels and positioned them as walls.
This lasted from November/December to the beginning of January. It was cold, with
much rain and we were only clothed in sackcloth-like summer overalls; the whole day
without food or water. We had no idea how many hours a day we worked. ...
Lotte Turbowicz described the work so:
... In the winter, when the ground was frozen, we were taken to Harburg to
knock the mortar from bricks. We had to dig out bricks from the rubble, knock the
mortar free and pile up the bricks. It was hard labour in the wretched cold and from
which our hands were bloody. ...
The totally inadequate rations made the prisoners dependent upon supplementary
food. They could only obtain this to and from and at the place of work. Residents left
food and kitchen scraps behind rubbish bins or trees which the prisoners
surreptitiously collected. Sometimes women were invited very briefly into the kitchen
to quickly gulp down a bowl of soup. The search for food was dependent upon the
attitude of the guards.
Ida Ehrmann described the situation in a letter:
... In my experience the residents of Neugraben behaved very
sympathetically towards us, especially a greengrocer who always had a large heap of
cabbage in his yard from which, with his knowledge, we helped ourselves. Also
several housewives living near our place of work supported us with small items of
Ruth Bachrich described how desperate the hunger was:
... A German family threw us bread. Once when leaving the camp we found
roast potatoes and dog biscuits, but later a child (Hitler Youth) and his mother arrived
by bicycle. The child yelled: "The Jew pigs have eaten all my dog's food". We had
wondered why we had had the pleasure of chewing for so long. They were ground bones.
Firms requested prisoners as labour from the SS. The required number of prisoners
was allocated to the firms by the camp commander. The firms involved report that the
documents relating to the application for prisoners and the payments made to the SS
no longer exist. Such documents applying for prisoner labour, subdivided according
to type and where the firm always informs of the possibility of accommodation, are to
be found in the Hamburg state archives.
In 1944/45 whereas an employer had to pay an hourly wage of 1 RM (including
employer's national insurance contribution) for a building labourer the SS only
audited 4 RM for each woman prisoner per day. The SS made a
considerable profit from these slave labourers considering the very small expenses
the women prisoners afforded them, and for the firms it was a significant saving on
Guards and Punishment
It is only through the case files of the trial that we have information regarding the
number and particulars of the guards. The former guards are no longer alive as they
were relatively old then.
The camp commander, SS Hauptscharführer Friedrich Wilhelm Kliem, was 47 years
old. His deputy and the thirteen male guards came from customs in the free port of
Hamburg. They were among the 150 public employees who, under the "Führer edict"
("Führererlaß") of 23.07.1944, were removed from the Reich inland revenue office
and directly placed under the command of the Reichsführer SS. On 13.09.1944 they
were ordered from customs control in the free port to guard service in the Neugraben
satellite concentration camp. They were all above 50 years of age. The 6 female SS
guards were drafted into the SS by the employment exchange. They were younger
than the men.
They women guards were very harsh, slapping the faces or beating the women
prisoners for the slightest "offence" at work. The camp commander meted out
punishment at roll call or in his room with not less than 25 blows with a leather strap
or rubber hose.
Nelly Prezmah remembers:
... another attempt to smuggle food into the camp had proven unsuccessful.
A guard discovered something edible and the camp commander ordered the girl to
completely undress and she received 25 blows with a rubber hose. The girl died
The trial in 1946 was unable to prove that Hauptscharführer Kliem or the guards had
committed murder. There were however numerous deaths. Illness, malnutrition,
debilitation, work accidents, deaths at work from bombing raids and deaths from
brutal beatings cost the lives of an unknown number of women. There are no
documents of the total number of deaths. There is no register of deaths for the
Jewish women prisoners in the satellite camp. And the women are only entered as
the number of cremated corpses in the register of deaths for the main Neuengamme
concentration camp. The names of deceased women appear in the case documents
of the trial and from reports of former women prisoners who do not appear in any
cemetery registry. No one knows the whereabouts of their last resting place.
There is a commemorative stone for two "unknown women" in the cemetery in
Fischbek. These are possibly the two women prisoners who were seriously injured
when a wall collapsed while they were clearing rubble in Harburg in the winter of
1944/45. They died due to lack of camp medical care not being allowed treatment in
Those guards not killed in air-raids were tried before a British military court. On
6.07.1946 the Hamburger Echo newspaper reported:
On the 3rd July the verdict was pronounced on the nine accused in the
concentration camp trial. Five of the accused were acquitted. The camp commander,
Friedrich Wilhelm Kliem, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. ...
The other three guards received sentences of between six months and three years
imprisonment. The charge was maltreatment of members of the Allied Nations. In
1955 camp commander Kliem was released from prison in Werl due to good conduct.
No guard was ever prosecuted in a German court of law.
Stations on the way through Concentration Camps
On the 15th April 1945 the women survivors of the Neugraben satellite concentration
camp were liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British troops. Many
died after liberation from malnutrition, typhoid and the physical injuries suffered
through the brutal treatment received in the various camps. For many this was the
end of three and a half to four years imprisonment in different concentration camps.
The first station was Theresienstadt, then Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were
separated from younger brothers and sisters, parents and relations, the latter being
unfit for work. These relations remaining behind in Auschwitz-Birkenau were
murdered in the gas chambers and cremated. After many selections the "selected"
were transported in cattle trucks, with 1,000 other women, to Hamburg to the
Dessauer Ufer satellite concentration camp, from there to Neugraben satellite
concentration camp, then to Tiefstack satellite concentration camp and finally, at the
beginning of April 1945, to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
The women were mostly Czech, with two Dutch and a few German women.
Supposedly there were women from Hamburg among them, who were forced to
divorce their "Aryan" husbands, but this has not been confirmed. The youngest of the
women was 13 years old, the eldest 51 years old.
There is a common memorial plaque for the women prisoners of the Neugraben
"Falkenberg" satellite concentration camp in Neugrabener Markt, Neugraben. The
remaining foundations of the former concentration camp, "on the doorstep", are now
overgrown with grass but identifiable.
Memorial Plaque in Neugrabener Markt, Neugraben for the women prisoners of Neugraben satellite
concentration camp Neugraben, in Falkenbergsweg.
The memorial reads:
"VERNICHTUNG DURCH ARBEIT"
BIS ZUM ENDE DER SECHZIGER JAHRE STANDEN HIER SOGENANNTE
"PLATTENHÄUSER" FÜR AUSGEBOMBTE HAMBURGER FAMILIEN. FÜR DEN BAU
DIESER HÄUSER, DER STRASSEN UND DER WASSERLEITUNG WURDEN NEBEN
KRIEGSGEFANGENEN AUCH HÄFTLINGE DES KONZENTRATIONSLAGERS
500 JÜDISCHE FRAUEN KAMEN NACH LANGJÄHRIGEM AUFENTHALTEN IN ANDEREN
KONZENTRATIONSLAGERN, ZULETZT IN AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, ÜBER DAS LAGER
DESSAUER UFER IN DAS AUSSENLAGER NEUGRABEN DES KZ NEUENGAMME.
VON SEPTEMBER 1944 BIS FEBRUAR 1945 WAREN DIESE FRAUEN IM
"BARACKENLAGER" AM FALKENBERGSWEG UNTERGEBRACHT UND MUSSEN
FÜR ÖRTLICHE BAUUNTERNEHMEN LEBENSGEFÄHRLICHE ZWANGSARBEIT
LEISTEN, SIE WURDEN AUCH ZU AUFRÄUMUNGSARBEITEN NACH BOMBENANGRIFFEN
IN HARBURG UND NEUGRABEN HERANGEZOGEN.
DIE ÜBERLEBENDEN WAREN IM FRÜHJAHR 1945 IN DAS LAGER TIEFSTACK
UND VON DORT IN DAS KONZENTRATIONSLAGER BERGEN-BELSEN GEBRACHT.
BIS ZUR BEFREIUNG DES LAGERS DURCH ENGLISCHEE TRUPPEN - AM 15. APRIL 1945
UND DENACH - STARBEN VIELE FRAUEN AN DER FOLGEN DER HAFT,
DER MANGELNDEN ERNÄHRUNG UND DER ZWANGSARBEIT.
Karl-Heinz Schultz: Das KZ-Außenlager Neugraben
Jürgen Ellermeyer (ed.).: Harburg von der Burg zur Industriestadt. Beiträge zur
Geschichte Harburgs 1288 - 1938. Hamburg, 1988.
KZ-Ausenlager Sasel (Sasel Satellite Concentration Camp)
In September 1944 500 Jewish women were housed in a guarded camp near to the Mellingburger Schleuse
(a lock on the river Alster). The majority of the women had survived the Lodz ghetto and
Auschwitz-Birchenau. They had to clear bomb rubble and construct buildings in Sasel, Poppenbüttel
and other districts of Hamburg. The Nazis' aim was "Vernichtung durch Arbeit" (extermination by work).
Many of the women were supplied to two firms by the SS whose task was to build "Plattenhäuser"
(prefabricated houses) in Poppenbüttel. The women had to level the ground, lay track, bring in building
material and build the over 50 "Plattenhäuser". The work was extreme, the women debilitated by their
previous maltreatment, and their sole nutrician was a thin soup and 300-350 grams of breads a day.
Their inner strength and will to survive was so great that most of them survived the exhausting work,
the brutal maltreatment, and the cold of the winter.
Each day the heavily guarded women prisoners passed through Sasel and Poppenbüttel but most people
on the street looked away, and later said that they had not seen anything ...
As the allied troops approached Hamburg the SS took measures to ensure that none of their victims
survived to be able to testify against them. The women were deported to Bergen-Belsen Concentration
Camp to be murdered. When British troops entered Bergen-Belsen on 15th April 1945 they found tens of
thousands of dead and dying victims, the Sasel Satellite Concentration Camp prisoners being among
Manfred Stern recalls growing up in a "Plattenhaus":
"Born in April 1945, I grew up in one of the "Plattenhäuser", in Heegbarg in Poppenbüttel, built by
concentration camp prisoners. Although this was my home until 1964 I never learnt anything of the
origin of the prefabricated-housing estate. Our parents shamefully concealed the true history of the
so-called "Behelfsheime" (makeshift houses)."
In 1985, through the initiative of pupils and teachers of Oberalster Gymnasium and the VVN/Bund der
Antifaschisten, a memorial stone was erected at the junction of Petunienweg and Feldblumenweg, in
Sasel, and one of the "Plattenhäuser", situated near the Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum (Alstertal Shopping
Centre) was made into a memorial.
Also, south-east of the church in Bergstedt stands a small memorial, consisting of two broken stones,
to the victims.
A stone pillar carries the inscription:
"Vergessen verlängert das Exil, Erinnerung ist das Geheimnis der Erlösung"
A further inscription reads:
"Für die 34 Frauen und den Säugling des Konzentrationslagers Neuengamme-Sasel. Durch die Verfolgung
zu Tode gekommen, beigesetzt in den Monaten Oktober 1944 bis Mai 1945 auf dem Bergstedter Friedhof,
1955 nach Ohlsdorf umgebettet".
A former path (former Pfeferminzkamp) branches off from Kritenberg.
S1 and S11 Poppenbüttel. Walk down Kritenbarg and turn right at the rear of the shopping centre.
Sundays 10.00 to 12.00 Hrs.
Guided tours by prior arrangement. Contact the Museumsdienst: Tel. (040) 34 89 0- 3 25
KZ-Ausenlager Eidelstedt (Eidelstedt Satellite Concentration Camp)
In October 1944 a satellite concentration camp for over 400 Jewish women from Hungary and
Czechoslovakia was established between No. 37 Friedrichshulderweg and Uckerstraße. The women had
to clear bomb rubble, lay track on the nearby railway land, and work in the armaments industries.
The male and female guards were exceptionally brutal even by concentration camp standards.
However, the majority of guards received either no sentence at all or only a short prison sentence
after the war. In 1982 the head of the camp, Walter Kümmel, stood trial. He also was not prosecuted.
A woman prisoner later gave the following account of conditions in the camp:
"The camp was atrocious. Filthy, lacking windows, doors and furnishings. We had to fill paper
mattresses with wood shavings and make the camp habitable ourselves. The sick lay on the stone
floor of the latrines, which consisted of stone blocks with round openings."
On 7th April 1945 the women were deported to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. In mid April sick
prisoners from Helmstedt Satellite Concentration Camp arrived in Eidelstedt Satellite Concentration
Camp, of whom many died.
In 1985 a project group from Geschwister-Scholl-Schule layed out a square in Friedrichshulter Weg
in memory of the women concentration camp prisoners.
In 1988 an information plaque was erected by the Department for the Protection of Historical Monuments.
Memories of my Childhood in the Holocaust