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The sculpture „Der sterbende Häftling“ (The dying prisoner) by Françoise Salmon.

Before and during World War II, Neuengamme concentration camp, a Nazi concentration camp was established by the SSmarker in Neuengammemarker—a quarter of the district Bergedorfmarker within the City of Hamburgmarker, Germanymarker. The name of the concentration camp became KZ Neuengamme. Nearly half of its 106,000 prisoners died by the end of the war. One of the few concentration camps in Germanymarker where most of the buildings have been conserved, the site serves as a memorial to the Holocaust. It is situated 15 km southeast of the centre of Hamburgmarker in the Vierlande area.

Extermination through labour

The camp served the needs of the German war machine and also carried out exterminations through labour. The inmates were spread over the main camp and approximately 80 subcamps across the north German area. At least 50,000 succumbed to the subhuman conditions in the camp from hard manual work with insufficient nutrition, extremely unhygienic conditions with widespread disease, and violence from the guards.

Work at the mother camp was centered on the production of bricks. This included the construction of a canal to transport the bricks to and from the site. Inmates had to excavate the heavy, peaty soil with inadequate tools and regardless of weather conditions or their health state. From 1942, several armaments companies (e.g. Messap, Jastram, and Walther-Werke) established facilities directly next to the Neuengamme concentration camp.


A sick Polish survivor in the Hannover-Ahlem concentration camp receives medicine from a German Red Cross worker.

Inmates were from 28 nationalities (Sovietsmarker (34,350), Poles (16,900), Frenchmen (11,500), Germans (9,200), Dutchmen (6,950), Belgiansmarker (4,800), Danes (4,800)) and also from the local Jewish community, but also included communists, homosexuals, prostitutes, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, prisoners of war and many other persecuted groups.

Of over 106,000 inmates, almost half died. 20,400 victims, listed by name on the camp memorial Neuengamme, died in the camp and the subcamps. But there are actually an estimated 26,800 victims. During the last days of the camp and “evacuation” about 17,000 people died. At least 42,900 victims can be verified.

Inmates census

Country Men Women Overall
Soviet Unionmarker 28,450 5,900 34,350
Polandmarker 13,000 3,900 16,900
Francemarker 11,000 500 11,500
Germanymarker 8,800 400 9,200
Netherlandsmarker 6,650 300 6,950
Belgiummarker 4,500 300 4,800
Denmarkmarker 4,800 - 4,800
Hungarymarker 1,400 1,200 2,600
Norwaymarker 2,200 - 2,200
Yugoslavia 1,400 100 1,500
Czechoslovakiamarker 800 580 1,380
Greecemarker 1,250 - 1,250
Italymarker 850 - 850
Spainmarker 750 - 750
Austriamarker 300 20 320
Luxembourgmarker 50 - 50
Other countries 1,300 300 1,600
Overall 87,500 13,500 101,000
not officially on the lists - - 5,000
Global overall - - 106,000
Dead in deportation - - 55,000

Well known inmates


More than 80 subcamps were part of the Neuengamme concentration camp. First in 1942, inmates of Neuengamme were transported to the camp Arbeitsdorf. The dimensions of the camps differed from about 2,000 inmates to 10 or less. Several of these subcamps have memorials or at least plates, but as of 2000 at 28 locations there is nothing. Dr. Garbe, from the Memorial Museum of the Neuengamme concentration camp, wrote, "The importance of the satellite camps is further highlighted by the fact that toward the ends of the war three times more prisoners were in satellite camps than in the main camp."

Alderney concentration camps in Occupied British Commonwealth

The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by Nazi Germany. The Germans built four Neuengamme subcamps on Alderney Islandmarker—the Alderney concentration camps—and named them after the Frisian Islands: Lager Norderneymarker, Lager Borkummarker, Lager Syltmarker and Lager Helgolandmarker. The Nazi Organisation Todt operated each subcamp and used forced labour to build bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters, and concrete fortifications. The Alderney concentration camps had a total inmate population of about 6,000.

Norderney camp housed European (usually Eastern but including Spaniard) and Russianmarker enforced labourers. The prisoners in Lager Norderney and Lager Sylt were slave labourers forced to build the many military fortifications and installations throughout Alderney. Sylt camp held Jewish enforced labourers and was a death camp. Lager Borkum was used for German technicians and volunteers from different countries of Europe. Lager Helgoland was filled with Russianmarker Organisation Todt workers.

In 1942, Lager Norderney, containing Russian and Polish POWs, and Lager Sylt, holding Jews, were placed under the control of the SS Hauptsturmführer Max List. Over 700 of the inmates lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to Germany in 1944.

Camp personnel

The place of the former crematorium.

Female guards were trained at Neuengamme and assigned to one of its female subcamps. There were no SS women stationed at Neuengamme permanently. Many of these women are known by name, including Kaethe Becker, Erna Dickmann, Johanna Freund, Angelika Grass, Kommandoführerin Loni Gutzeit (who also served at Hamburg-Wandsbekmarker and was nicknamed "The Dragon of Wandsbek" by the prisoners), Gertrud Heise, Frieda Ignatowitz, Gertrud Moeller, who also served at Boizenburgmarker subcamp, Lotte Johanna Radtke, chief wardress Annemie von der Huelst, Inge Marga Marggot Weber. Many of the women were later dispersed to female subcamps throughout northern Germanymarker. Today it is known that female guards staffed the subcamps of Neuengamme at Boizenburgmarker, Braunschweigmarker SS-Reitschule, Hamburg-Sasel, Hamburg-Wandsbek, Helmstedt-Beendorf, Langenhornmarker, Neugrabenmarker, Obernheide, Salzwedelmarker, and Unterlussmarker (Vuterluss). Only a few have been tried for war crimes, such as Anneliese Kohlmann, who served as one of only six woman guards at Neugraben.

Alfred Trzebinski (1902 – 1946) was an SS-physician, sentenced to death, and executed for his involvement in war crimes committed at the Neuengamme subcamps.

Camp Commanders

During the period as a sub-camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration campmarker the following SS-officers served as Lagerführer:

As an indipendent concentration camp from June 1940 the following were camp commanders:


Aerial shot of the Neuengamme camp taken by British aviation on 16 April 1945


In September 1938 the German Earth & Stone Works Company bought the defunct bruick factory (German: Klinkerwerk) in Neuengamme. On December 13, 1938 the Neuengamme concentration camp was set up with 100 prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration campmarker.


In April 1940, the SS and the city of Hamburg signed a contract for the construction of a larger brick factory, and on June 4, the Neuengamme concentration camp became an independent main camp.


According to the testimony of Wilhelm Bahr, an ex-medical orderly, during the trial against Bruno Tesch, 200 Russian prisoners of war were gassed by prussic acid in 1942. In April 1942, a crematorium was constructed at the camp, prior all bodies were taken to Hamburg for cremation.


In late 1943, most likely November, Neuengamme recorded its first female prisoners according to camp records.


In the summer of 1944, Neuengamme received many women prisoners from Auschwitzmarker, as well other camps in the East. All of the women were eventually shipped out to one of its twenty-four female subcamps.

In July 1944, a camp section for prominent prisoners from France was set up. End 1944 the number of prisoners were around 49,000, with 12,000 in Neuengamme and 37,000 in the subcamps.


On March 15, 1945, the transfer of Scandinavian prisoners from other camps to Neuengamme started. This was part of the White Buses program. On March 27, a Scandinavian camp was established at Neuengamme. On April 8, the air raid of a train with prisoners led to the Celler Hasenjagd massacre.

On April 26, 1945, the SS Cap Arcona, loaded with about 10,000 prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp, Thielbek and Athen, was brought into the Bay of Lübeckmarker. On May 3, 1945, the Cap Arcona, the Thielbek, and the passenger liner Deutschland were sunk in four separate attacks by RAF planes.

On May 2, 1945 the SS and the last prisoners left the Neuengamme camp.

After the war

After the end of the war, first the camp was used as a Russian DP (Displaced persons) Camp, German prisoners of war were held separated. Since June 1945 the camp was used by the British forces as an internment camp for SS members and Nazi officials. The Civil Internment Camp No. 6 was closed on 13 August 1948. Since 1948 the city of Hamburg used the camp as a prison. Several original buildings of the camp continued to serve as locations in this prison (for example Building Number 9), until February 2006. Since the demolition of the new-build structures in 2007 the whole area is used as a memorial.


The memorial tower at the former concentration camp Neuengamme.

The KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme (Neuengamme memorial site) is located at Jean-Dolidier-Weg 75 in Bergedorf. A first memorial was erected in 1953 on the site of the former camp garden. It was expanded in 1965, and a "document house" was added in 1981. In 1989, the Hamburg Senate decided that the prisons erected in 1950 and 1970 on the camp site should be relocated. The older one was closed in 2003, the newer in 2006. In 2005 a new memorial site and museum were opened. Since 1985, there are also memorials at the subcamps Fuhlsbüttelmarker and Sasel, and in the Bullenhuser Dammmarker school, where a number of children were murdered after being subjected to medical experiments.

Three of the camp's outposts also serve as public memorials. These are located at Bullenhuser Damm, Kritenbarg 8marker and Suhrenkamp 98marker.

The first of these is a memorial to the murder of 20 children from the Auschwitzmarker concentration camp who had been taken to Hamburgmarker and abused for medical experiments. On April 20, 1945, only weeks before the war was over, they were killed to cover up that crime. The second is an outpost of Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg-Sasel where Jewish women from the Łódź Ghetto in Polandmarker were forced to do construction work. The third one is located inside the gatehouse of the Fuhlsbüttelmarker penitentiary. Parts of this complex served as concentration camp for communists, opponents of the regime and many other groups. About 450 inmates were murdered here during the Nazi reign.

Ongoing historical research

Reconstructed railway wagon at the Neuengamme memorial in which prisoners were transported.

Due to the demolition of the Neuengamme camp and its records by the SSmarker in 1945 and the transportation of inmates to other subcamps or other working locations, the historical work is difficult and ongoing. For example: in 1967 the German Federal Ministry of Justice stated the camp from September 1, 1938 until May 5, 1945. In 2008, the organisation of the Neuengamme memorial site (German: KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme)—an establishment of the Hamburg Ministry of Culture, Sports and Media—stated that the empty camp was explored by British forces on May 2, 1945 and the last inmates were liberated in Flensburgmarker on May 10, 1945. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museummarker stated that the camp was established on December 13, 1938 and liberated on May 4, 1945.

See also


  1. Schwarberg, Günther: Angriffsziel „Cap Arcona“. Überarb. Neuauflage, Göttingen 1998.“
  2. Website concentration camp memorial

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