Saturday, October 31, 2015



Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, started on 22 June 1941, and all the Waffen-SS formations participated (including the SS Reich, which was formally renamed to SS Das Reich by the Fall of 1941).
   Men and horses of the SS Cavalry Brigade. September 1941.
SS Division Nord in northern Finland took part in Operation Arctic Fox with the Finnish Army and fought at the disastrous battle of Salla, where against strong Soviet forces they suffered 300 killed and 400 wounded in the first two days of the invasion. Thick forests and heavy smoke from forest fires disoriented the troops and the division's units completely fell apart. By the end of 1941, Nord had suffered severe casualties. Over the winter of 1941–42 it received replacements from the general pool of Waffen-SS recruits, who were supposedly younger and better trained than the SS men of the original formation, which had been drawn largely from Totenkopfstandarten of Nazi concentration camp guards. The rest of the Waffen-SS divisions and brigades fared better. The SS Totenkopf and Polizei divisions were attached to Army Group North, with the mission to advance through the Baltic states and on to Leningrad. The SS Division Das Reich was with Army Group Centre and headed towards Moscow. The SS Division Wiking and the Leibstandarte were with Army Group South, heading for the Ukraine and the city of Kiev.
The war in the Soviet Union proceeded well at first, but the cost to the Waffen-SS was extreme: by late October the Leibstandarte was at half strength due to enemy action and dysentery that swept through the ranks. Das Reich lost 60% of its strength and was still to take part in the Battle of Moscow. The unit was decimated in the following Soviet offensive. The Der Führer Regiment was reduced to 35 men out of the 2,000 that had started the campaign in June. Altogether, the Waffen-SS had suffered 43,000 casualties.
While the Leibstandarte and the SS divisions were fighting in the front line, behind the lines it was a different story. The 1st SS Infantry and 2nd SS Infantry Brigades, which had been formed from surplus concentration camp guards of the SS-TV, and the SS Cavalry Brigade moved into the Soviet Union behind the advancing armies. At first they fought Soviet partisans and cut off units of the Red Army in the rear of Army Group South, capturing 7,000 prisoners of war, but from mid-August 1941 until late 1942 they were assigned to the Reich Main Security Office headed by Reinhard Heydrich. The brigades were now used for rear area security and policing, and were no longer under Army or Waffen-SS command. In the autumn of 1941, they left the anti-partisan role to other units and actively took part in the Holocaust. While assisting the Einsatzgruppen, they participated in the liquidation of the Jewish population of the Soviet Union, forming firing parties when required. The three brigades were responsible for the murder of tens of thousands by the end of 1941.
 A teenage boy views his murdered family before his own death. Zboriv, Ukraine, 1941
Because it was more mobile and better able to carry out large-scale operations, the SS Cavalry Brigade played a pivotal role in the transition to the wholesale extermination of the Jewish population. On 27 July, the Brigade was ordered into action, and by 1 August the SS Cavalry Regiment was responsible for the death of 800 people; by 6 August, this total had reached 3,000 "Jews and partisans". On 1 August, after a meeting between Himmler, Erich von Bach-Zelewski and Hinrich Lohse, the brigades received the following order: "Explicit order by RFSS: All Jews must be shot. Drive the female Jews into the swamps."

Gustav Lombard, on receiving the order, advised his Battalion that "In future not one male Jew is to remain alive, not one family in the villages."Throughout the next weeks, soldiers of SS Cavalry Regiment 1 under Lombard's command murdered an estimated 11,000 Jews and more than 400 dispersed soldiers of the Red Army.

A German war correspondent with the Waffen SS soldiers seen before Battle of Kursk. SS-Obersturmführer Friedrich Kriegsberichter Zschäckel was a veteran war reporter who went first with SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" in the attack towards Moscow in 1941. In early 1942 he was with the Division "Nord" and then stayed in France with "Leibstandarte" in the summer of the same year. In 1943 he joined with "Totenkopf" during the battle at Kharkov, and then came back with "Das Reich"during Kursk. In 1944 he was with "Hitlerjugend" in Normandy, and is believed to have died in October 1944 (a German documents collected along with archival sheet at the U.S. National Archives say the exact same thing: "believed to have died in October 1944" without any additional information). Zschäckel won the Iron Cross Class 1, and was promoted to Obersturmführer on 20 April 1943. This made him one of the highest ranked Waffen-SS war photographer, who went covered most fronts and divisions! The photo above shows  Zschäckel in an anti-tank trench during the first days of Operation Zitadelle July 1943. This photo was taken by SS-KB Hermann Groenert serving with the division "Totenkopf".

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


                                                                                                                                                                                                      CONCENTRATION CAMP NEUENGAMME PART 5/5


         From the 18 March to May 3, 1946 the trial of Max Pauly and 13 other members of the last camp, was conducted in the Hamburg Curio-house by a British military court. Because of their responsibility for the mass deaths in Neuengamme and direct involvement in murders,  eleven defendants were sentenced to death, the sentences were carried out on October 8, 1946 at Hameln prison. [Pauly was never tried for the crimes committed at Stutthof. Pauly was executed by hanging (Tod durch den Strang) by Albert Pierrepoint in Hamelin prison on October 8, 1946,sic] in seven subsequent processes which had a total of 15 other defendants, responsible among them the Protective Custody Leader (Schutzhaftlagerführer) Albert Lütkemeyer, for crimes in the main camp Neuengamme. The British military court imposed twelve members of the SS and a notorious Kapo the death penalty. Including against Lütkemeyer and seven other members of the SS, the sentence was upheld and enforced. In addition to the eight  MainTrials (Hauptverfahren) the British continued with further 26 Military Court Proceeding covering atrocities and mistreatment of prisoners in sub-camps. Who were charged in addition to SS members were civilians from companies in which forced labourers had been employed. Also, 19 former female guards (Aufseherinnen) were on trial.
      In both German states (East and West) only 142 criminal proceedings for the crimes committed in the Neuengamme concentration camp and sub-camps took place. Of the more than 100 cases that were conducted by the Hamburg prosecutor, it came in ten cases to an indictment, in seven to a conviction. The last case was closed after the death of the accused in 2004. Most perpetrators were not tried  in any court proceedings.
  The former concentration camp buildings became from May the 9 1945 the first 'Russians DP camp' for former Soviet forced labourers, both males and females from the Hamburg area. Since the beginning of June 1945, the British military government used the former concentration camp by the resolutions of the Potsdam Conference as an internment camp, the first interned were primarily members of the SS, then increasingly civilian officials of the Nazi state, suspected war-criminals and others termed security detainees. These were mostly admitted from Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein regions. In October 1945, under guard of 25 Belgian Fusilier Battalion, with 7,987 internees the camp reached it's maximum occupancy. After legal proceedings had taken place, releases from internment followed. Finally, it was in autumn 1946 and  still a 'transit camp', designated as 'Civil Internment Camp No. 6' for ethnic Germans expelled from other countries into the British Zone of Occupation, and was finally closed on 13 August 1948, by the British military government.

View of the second prison, built in 1969, in front of the historic brick factory. The former commandant’s house is in the foreground.
The city of Hamburg took over the grounds of the former concentration camp in 1948 and began using the site as a prison. The wooden prisoners’ barracks were torn down and replaced by a large new building in 1950. Almost all of the brick buildings from when the site was a concentration camp were preserved and used as prison and administration buildings or as workshops. Several of the SS barracks and the commandant’s house served as housing for prison employees. At the end of the 1960s, the judicial authorities built a second prison facility on the former grounds of the concentration camp, where the clay pits had been.
Due to growing pressure from survivors’ associations and after a lengthy public debate, the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg decided to relocate the prisons in 1989. However, the first prison was not closed until June 2003, the second prison in February 2006. After the demolition of the prisons and the transfer of property ownership in May 2007, the Memorial encompassed almost the entire area of the former concentration camp. Reminders of the site’s post-war use include a remnant of the first prison on the grounds of the former prisoners’ compound and a section of a wall attached to a guard tower from the second prison where the clay pits were once located.
Because the site was used as an internment camp then as a prison after the war, the concentration camp was largely forgotten. For many decades, Neuengamme concentration camp faded from public memory – both in Germany and in Hamburg. The memorial was established gradually in the face of strong opposition. In 1953, a simple monument was erected on the edge of the grounds. Thanks to the endeavours of the main organisation representing all former camp prisoners, Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme, an international memorial was erected in 1965. In 1981, an exhibition building (Dokumentenhaus) was added, and the first exhibition was shown there with information on the history of the site. In 1984, after protests halted the demolition of the former brick factory, the brickworks and several buildings of the former concentration camp were designated as heritage sites. In 1995, a permanent exhibition opened in the former Walther factory and the exhibition building (Dokumentenhaus) was remodelled into the House of Remembrance, where the names of the victims are kept. Finally, when the prison closed in 2003, a memorial and documentation centre were built on the site of the former prisoners’ compound.
The new Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial was inaugurated on the 60th anniversary of the camp’s liberation in May 2005. Today, the Memorial encompasses virtually the entire grounds and 17 original buildings of the former concentration camp. Measuring 57 hectares, it is one of the largest memorials in Germany. It is a site for remembering and learning that preserves the memory of the victims of SS terror, while also providing opportunities to explore the causes and consequences of the Nazi regime
'The foundation stone for a prison is laid on the grounds of the former prisoners’ compound of the concentration camp. Photographer unknown, 14 July 1949.

Der Ort des Terrors

Neuengamme -Stammlager
Researcher /Author: Detlaf   Garbe, Dr. Reimer Möller

C.H.Beck oHG, München 2007

Wikipedia, (English Edition)
Vetted by: Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin

Translated from German by:
Herbert Stolpmann, NZ- April 2015


                                      The Assassination of Count Bernadotte
                                           (September 17, 1948)

  During the fight for Jewish statehood, extremist military groups sometimes resorted to the use of terrorist tactics. One such instance occurred in 1948 when members of the Jewish underground organization LEHI killed UN Peace Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte to protest his diplomatic efforts to modify the Palestine partition plan.
Bernadotte, a Swede with family ties to the Swedish King, gained international recognition through his work as head of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II. Bernadotte used his position to negotiate with Heinrich Himmler and save thousands of Jews from concentration camps, although many argue that he could have done more had he been less cautious in negotiations.
A diplomat fluent in six languages, Bernadotte was appointed mediator of the UN General Assembly on May 20, 1948, and was immediately faced with the volatile situation in the Middle East. Arabs and Jews had been fighting over Palestine for decades and the conflict escalated after the adoption of the UN partition resolution on November 29, 1947. When Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies invaded Israel. On June 11, Bernadotte succeeded in arranging a 30-day cease-fire. After visiting Cairo, Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, he came to the conclusion that the UN partition plan was an “unfortunate” resolution and proposed his own plan to unite the two feuding peoples. Instead of establishing individual states, he suggested that Arabs and Jews form a “union” consisting of a small Jewish entity and an enlarged Transjordan. Haifa and Lydda (Lod) airport would become free zones. Israel would receive the Western Galilee and unlimited immigration for two years, after which the UN would take control of the issue. Between 250,000 and 300,000 Arab refugees would be permitted to return to Arab territory with compensation and Transjordan would control the Negev and, despite Israeli claims, Jerusalem.
The Arab world rejected the Bernadotte plan on the grounds that, as Syrian officer Muhammad Nimr al-Khatib said, “Most of these mediators are spies for the Jews anyway.” The Israeli government, hating the idea of giving up Jerusalem and bent on military victory, quickly followed suit. Fighting resumed on July 8 and the Israeli army gained strength and succeeded in pushing back the Arabs until a second UN cease-fire was declared on July 18, this time with no time limit and a threat of economic sanctions against any country that broke it.
One organization that saw Bernadotte’s efforts as a threat was LEHI, a Jewish underground group that, under the leadership of Yitzhak Shamir, Dr. Israel Scheib and Nathan Friedman-Yellin, had waged a campaign of “personal terror” to force the British out of Palestine. LEHI called Bernadotte a British agent who had cooperated with the Nazis in World War II. The organization considered his plan to be a threat to its goal of Israeli independence on both banks of the Jordan River. Commander Yehoshua Zeitler of the Jerusalem branch of LEHI started training four men to kill Bernadotte, and solicited information from two sympathetic journalists about his schedule. LEHI leaders decided to assassinate Bernadotte while he was on his way to a meeting with Dov Joseph, military governor of Jerusalem’s New City, which was scheduled for either 4:30 p.m. on September 17 or sometime on September 18 (the exact date is disputed).
On September 16, Bernadotte flew to Beirut and spent the day there. At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, September 17, he boarded his UN Dakota plane for the 45 minute flight to Jerusalem. After arriving in Palestine, Bernadotte’s day started with a shot hitting an armored car in his convoy while he was visiting Ramallah. No one was hurt and, according to army liaison officer Moshe Hillman, Bernadotte was proud of the bullet hole and showed Hillman the UN flag that had saved him.
Bernadotte’s appointment with Joseph was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. that day. Bernadotte spent time at the official UN headquarters at the YMCA and at Government House, a potential headquarters for a UN mission. He visited the Jerusalem Agricultural School where he picked up French UN observer Andre Seraut who took the center seat in the UN car, immediately to Bernadotte’s left. The three car convoy then headed back to the YMCA to pick up a copy of the truce regulations before the meeting with Joseph.
Meanwhile, LEHI terrorists adapted their plans to the new meeting time and an Israeli military jeep carrying a driver named Meshulam Makover and four assassins was dispatched to Palmeh Street in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Old Katamon. At 5:03 p.m., the UN convoy drove up and found the jeep blocking its path. The terrorists, wearing khaki shorts and peaked caps, left their jeep, found Bernadotte in the second car of the convoy and one man, later discovered to be Yehoshua Cohen, fired a Schmeisser automatic pistol into the car, spraying the interior with bullets and killing Seraut and then Bernadotte.
Yehoshua Cohen (Hebrew: יהושע כהן; was a leading member of Lehi, a Zionist militant group, who fired the fatal shots in the assassination of United Nations envoy Folke Bernadotte on September 17, 1948. Cohen was never charged for his role in the assassination, and was one of the founders of the Sde Boker kibbutz in the Negev Desert, where David Ben-Gurion later lived. While Ben-Gurion lived at Sde Boker, he and Cohen became close friends.

                                   Yehoshua Cohen on the left, with David Tovyahu

Cohen's involvement in the assassination of Bernadotte was long-rumored, but was not confirmed during his lifetime. Historian Michael Bar-Zohar claimed for a number of years that Cohen had privately confessed in his role in the attack to Ben-Gurion, but Cohen never responded to these claims publicly.

Cohen died at Sde Boker of a heart attack in 1986, with his role in the attack still unclear, but in 1988 two of his co-conspirators in the attack, Yehoshua Zettler and Meshulam Markover, publicly confessed to their role in the attacks and confirmed that Cohen killed Bernadotte.

 The other LEHI members shot the tires of the rest of the convoy and all the terrorists escaped to the religious community of Sha’arei Pina where they hid with haredi (ultra-religious) LEHI sympathizers for a few days before fleeing to Tel Aviv in the back of a furniture truck.
Both Seraut and Bernadotte were transported to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, but were found to have died instantly. Bernadotte had been hit six times. On September 18, his body was flown to Haifa and then to Sweden, where he was buried on his wife’s birthday. The Israeli government subsequently cracked down on LEHI, arresting many of its members and confiscating their arms. LEHI disbanded, largely due to public condemnation.
While the world mourned for Bernadotte, some in Israel, such as former Tehiya Member of Knesset and former LEHI radio announcer Geula Cohen, saw it as just another death in war, no more immoral than other killings committed during the long Arab-Israeli conflict. Cohen considers the assassination to have been an effective measure “because we prevented the internationalization of Jerusalem.” Others, however, such as Hebrew University professor Joseph Heller, argue that the killing actually provoked support for the Bernadotte plan by making its author into a martyr. The plan was never implemented, but whether its failure was due to the assassination or simply because of Israeli military strength and other outside factors is pure speculation.
Yitzhak Shamir reputedly played a role in planning the assassination; however, he was never tried and years later was elected as Israel's eighth Prime Minister.

Source: Jewish Virtual Library - Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, The Encyclopedia Americana, 1988, Hewins, Ralph, Count Folke Bernadotte: His Life and Work, 1950

View: YouTube-

Friday, April 17, 2015


                                           CONCENTRATION CAMP NEUENGAMME
                                                                     PART 4/5

 Changes are also reflected in the commandant's office staff and the security group, winch temporarily consisted of four companies of the SS Death's Head Units of three combined companies, called a 'Sturmbann'. Younger members of the SS were sent to the front and replaced by older or wounded soldiers, that had only limited service suitability for the Waffen-SS. Although SS guard troops were in the first place exclusively still used at sub-camps, but the SS building brigades used in the clean-up of bombed cities had been from the fall of 1942 guarded by police organizations which were enlisted in part from municipal staff. The Neuengamme SS in 1944 took over nearly 1,000 soldiers from the Wehrmacht. They received new pay-books (Soldbücher) and special uniforms. In addition, as police were withdrawn, civilians who were mostly drawn from the public administration and used as a Reserve. These included customs officers to reinforce the guard units. At the sub-camps where prisoners were forced to work for construction projects for the Wehrmacht, units of the Navy and the Air Force took over the guard duties. In the Women's sub-camps male staff was generally used only for external security, while in the camp for the monitoring of prisoners female SS guards (Aufseherinnen) were responsible.
  Overall, the number of guards rose in total for the area of the Neuengamme concentration camp from a few hundred in 1940 to 4,000 - 5.000 by 1945, of which only half were members of the SS. According to the report of the SS-station doctor dated 29 March 1945 the average strength of the SS troops, including headquarters staff in the first quarter were 2,211 members of the SS. Of these 1,592 were on guard duty in the Main Camp (Stammlager). In the women's sub-camps a further 444 Auseherinnen were used. In addition, not SS associated forces were drafted for guarding an increase of 2,072 prisoners. These figures required the necessity in higher personnel expenses  for the sub-camps. While in the main camp nearly 600 members of the SS guarded 12.000 to 14.000 prisoners, of them,  over 100 members of the SS were part of the Administration including other departments, while in the sub-camps with more than 40,000 inmates, another 4,100 armed personnel had been used for security purposes.
View of the SS compound. The large doors of the SS garages, which still exist today, are visible in the background on the right.

In addition to the guards there were six departments within the SS camp: first, the Commander, 2nd,  the Political Department, 3rd, the Detention Camp (Schutzhaftlager), however, from 1942 the 'Arbeitseinsatz' (Work Assignment) managed as a separate department. 4th, Administration and Management, 5th, Department of Medicine, and 6th, Training. At the behest of the camp commander Pauly the Office of the Interpolation Points (Stützpunkte) [this is something like a Support Unit,sic] had been created in 1944 to better manage the sub-camps. In March 1945, there were eight Points, which controlled almost all other camps at different  locations. The object of the base manager was passing on the death reports of all subordinated stations. By this structural change the base manager (Stützpunktleiter) formed an intermediary between the camp commander and the individual commando leader. They were responsible for all organizational matters, handling of postal traffic and disclosure of changes of death reports, and regular monitoring of individual outer laying camps.

 Until recent, right towards the end of the war, including the main camp was expanded. For the Rifle Production of the Metal Factory Walther, a hammer mill was built in 1944/45, which was, however, not put into operation, the construction was not completed by April 1945. Yet during 1944 structures of two large double-storied accommodation buildings were built of clinker bricks that were occupied by a total of eight prisoner blocks.
 Originally, the expansion plans were much more comprehensive. The Official Group C (Construction) of the SS-WVHA intended in 1942/43 an extension of the Neuengamme concentration camp, which was aimed at an average occupancy of about 15,000 inmates. In detail it was planned: the creation of further administration buildings and factories, a two-storey building with entrance gates including an exit openings on the opposite side as a thoroughfare, a delousing station, a crematory,  prison cells of different sizes, and a lot more. The extensive wooden barracks and the simple wooden huts built in 1940-41 foresaw the replacing by eight large massive construction of two-storey accommodation buildings. The plans indicate that the SS after a victorious conclusion of the war saw a great need for concentration camp inmates, and intended to expand Neuengamme on long term basis. Nothing should be any more provisionally, everything should be done in mass construction.
  Because of the course of the war, most plans were not realized. The workshops of the German equipment plants emerged as Barrack Complexes, many other things, the entrance building included were never built. Of the two major prisoner accommodation, first it served until the end of 1944 when completely finished as the front stone building for the conservation of the block in which the SS used the remaining work force of several thousand weakened and sick prisoners who were usually sent back from the external camps, especially from the wicker works. Due to the high mortality rate, they were referred to as Death Blocks. Here a concentration camp for Scandinavian prisoners from all over Germany was established in March 1945. [Sketches from 25.2. and 12.30.1942, in: ANg. The plans have been discovered in the archive of the Moscow Interior Ministry as part of a research project by Hermann Kaienburg only a few years ago.sic]
Entrance to the prisoners’ compound. On the left and right are the wooden barracks for the commanding officer of the prisoners’ compound (Schutzhaftlagerführer) and the reporting officer (Rapportführer). In the background, the roll call square and the kitchen barracks can be seen.
The living and working conditions in the main camp and sub-camps deteriorated rapidly towards the end of the war. [This was a general trend right through Germany,sic.] Overcrowding, inadequate nutrition, insufficient medical care and catastrophic sanitary conditions led to the deaths of many prisoners. In some other locations, such as in the Friesenwall project, within a few months from the 1,700 to 2,100 prisoners in the anti-tank ditch construction, the monthly death rates were at the end of 1944 more than ten percent. Based on the total number of all prisoners of the concentration camp Neuengamme and the sub-camps the mortality rate, taken the incomplete information into account, the infirmary Books of the Dead in 1943, show an average of 332 deaths per month and rose by December 1944 to 2,675, which means a day on an average of 86 deaths.
"The Friesenwall'
On the 28th of August 1944 Adolf Hitler ordered the construction of a fortification – the so called “Friesenwall” – after the Allies had invaded Normandy in June 1944. This wall was supposed to be drawn along the coast in two defence lines from the Netherlands to Denmark. Behind the coast line with firing ranges, fox holes and blocking positions trenches were to be dug in a second defence line. Aurich city was proclaimed a fortress and supposed to be additionally secured by antitank ditches.The antitank ditches were four to five metres wide at the surface and two to three metres deep. The sloping walls of the ditches run to half a metre wide bottoms. The Organisation Todt was in charge of the site management for the ditches. Mainly concentration camp prisoners from Neuengamme were deployed for this job since workers were lacking towards the end of the war. They prisoners could be placed in the hutment in Engerhafe which had been proclaimed a satellite camp of Neuengamme.

                                                            'Image of the Friesenwall'
                                                    [Not very effective as a defensive wall]

Initially, the dead were still being placed by a Bergedorf funeral home to the local union crematorium at Ohlsdorf. As from 1942, the SS also had corpses cremated in a mobile incinerator of the Kori company in the immediate vicinity of the camp. In mid-1942 a first camp own crematorium was then completed. 1944 the SS Central Construction build a new crematorium, which was taken in December 1944 into operation.
In addition to the prisoners who were ruined by work, other people found their death in the Neuengamme concentration camp. The camp served the state police station Hamburg as a central place of execution. Gestapo and SS took until 1945 approximately 1,400 persons for execution into the camp, they were shot at the shooting range near the sewage treatment plant or into the prison bunker, and hanged. Among them were a large number of Soviet and Polish forced labourers and of resistance fighters of different nationalities, mostly Dutch union representatives that had organized at the end of 1944 a railway strike. The bodies of the executed were often made available to the anatomical institutes of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf and Kiel. But even the Justice Department ordered  temporarily death sentences to be performed in concentration camps, as their own execution site had been destroyed at the remand prison by a bombing raid in August 1943. Hamburg Courts arranged for at least 16 cases of the execution by firing squad in the concentration camp Neuengamme.

The Crematorium at Neuengamme'
Twice, instead of the usual executions, murders were committed in the concentration camp instead with poison gas. The victims were 197 wounded (invalids) Red Army soldiers and 251 Soviet officers or other persons covered by the Commissar Order, which had been selected by special command of the Hamburg Gestapo in the POW location XI B at Fallingbostel. These 448 people were gassed on 25 September1942 and at the end of November in which for this purpose separately sealed prison bunker, with Zyklon B.
   “My comrade was beaten so badly in the brick factory […] that you could see black gouges on his body when he took off his shirt. The next morning, he and I were walking in the column to work when he said good-bye to me and told me to give his mother his regards if I survived. Then, he took two steps away from the group. A shot was fired […] my fellow countryman fell to the ground.”
[Anatoli Nikitisch Korschikow from the Soviet Union was a prisoner in Neuengamme concentration camp from August 1942 to 1944. (Letter from 1986.]
 Multiple medical experiments on prisoners were conducted in the Neuengamme concentration camp. Looking for new therapies for the treatment of typhus took place in the spring of 1942, by Professor Mühlens the director of the Hamburg Institution to determine characteristics on patients in Ship- and Tropical Diseases, after an outbreak of typhus epidemic in the camp which gave him the available opportunity, trying to treat the diseased prisoners with sulfonamide. At the  end of 1944,  Professor Ludwig Werner Haase of the Berlin Reich Institute for Water and Air Quality used 150 prisoners for weeks and made them drink contaminated water with the poisons mustard gas and nitrogen to test a detoxification process. At the same time, the Pulmonologist Dr. Kurt Heißmeier infected in Neuengamme over 100 prisoners with TBc pathogens, watching the tuberculoses develop  and  had the the axillary glands by surgical procedures to removed. About 30 prisoners did not survive the trials. The victims also included 20 Jewish children aged five to twelve years, which Heißmeier had brought in November 1944 from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Neuengamme to alter them through medical experiments. To hide the crime, the children and the four inmate doctors and nurses that cared for them were placed in a previously-used as external camp-accommodation, now vacant school building at Bullenhauser  Damm, Hamburg, on 20 April 1945, [Hitler's last birthday,sic] and the following night hanged by SS men in the basement on heating pipes. The children were given a morphine injection after which they were hanged. The SS-Untersturmführer who performed this horrible crime on the children used his full weight on the bodies to tighten the sling as their necks were too small to tighten the noose.. The same night 28 adults were killed, including the nurses of the children. The bodies were cremated in Neuengamme. [Ref.: Günther Schwarzberger. The SS doctor and the children. Report on the murder of Bullenhauser Damm, Munich 1982]

School at Bullenhauser Damm-Hamburg
Shortly before the end of the war there was still about 50,000 prisoners in the hands of the Neuengamme camp administration. As to the camps with the nearby approaching front in the preceding months, the SS chose here the same way of camp closures and their clearance. On March 26th 1945, the evacuation of the two located sub-camps in the Emsland area,  Meppen-Versen and Meppen-Dalum commenced the resolution of the Neuengamme Camp Complexes. Within four weeks, on the 1 April, the other locations of Neuengamme concentration camps were dissolved, just as quickly as the British and US troops were advancing from the Rhine to the Elbe. Also on the 1 April the sub-camp Porta Westfalica was cleared in the first week of April, as well as  the sub-camps in Bremen, Hannover, Salzgitter and Braunschweig. In the following days until the middle of the month,  prisoners were placed in the west or north from outdoor camps on  uncoordinated marches.
 By mid-April 1945, the majority of the then existing 57 other locations of Neuengamme concentration camp were disbanded. The prisoners were led away on rail transports and on foot marches in front of the approaching Allied troops. With food, if ever provided, for a day or two, some transports were over a week on the road. Many prisoners died of thirst and starvation. On foot marches, the SS guards shot those who could not keep up. In parts those on foot wandered aimlessly around on by-roads until they finally reached a destination.
Count Folke Bernadotte, vice president of the Swedish Red Cross in talks with a German Army Officer, 1945
Most transports led the prisoners into  Collection Centres (Auffanglager), target of the 9,000 prisoners, especially most of them from Bremen and Hamburg including some other locations with sick detainees, such was the Prisoner of War Camp Sandbostel at Bremervörde. 8,000 prisoners, mostly Jewesses and released from the originating camps with sick prisoners out of the the Hannover area, came to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. The last stop for 5,000 prisoners who came mainly from outside camps in the Braunschweig-Salzgitter area in February 1945,  into Camp Wöbbelin, near Ludwigslust which was at that time still  under construction. These two destinations were death camps, where thousands perished from hunger and disease: 1,000 in Wöbbelin and 3,000 in Sandbostel. What the number of victims with Neuengamme numbers among the 25,000 dead who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp shortly before liberation or in the first few weeks after that, is not known.
 With the dissolution of the Neuengamme concentration camp there are two historical connecting events in their action and perception, however, they are completely opposite and show the inherent conflict between destruction and liberation in a particularly dramatic sense: The rescue of the Scandinavian prisoners by the Swedish Red Cross in relation to the remaining Neuengamme inmates on KZ-ships.
In the last six weeks of the war the Neuengamme concentration camp became an assembly point for all Norwegians and Danish prisoners held in Germany. The establishment of a Norse Camp was the initiative of the Vice President of the Swedish Red Cross, Count Folke Bernadotte, which was granted to him by Heinrich Himmler in February 1945 as an input for the hoped for contacts with the British, with whom the chief SS leaders tried to avert a total defeat of Germany and negotiate a ceasefire. Having the sick brought out with the famous "white buses" via Denmark to Sweden before, over 4,000 Danish and Norwegian prisoners could leave Neuengamme on 20 April 1945 in about 120 buses and other vehicles and travelling towards freedom.
"White Buses" of the Danish Red Cross at their base camp at Friedrichsruh'
On the same day began the complete evacuation of the main camp, in collaboration with the Higher SS and Police Leader 'North Sea', George Henning Graf von Bassewitz-Behr, who exercised command over the Neuengamme concentration camp, and organised certain aspects during discussions with the Hamburg Gauleiter Karl Kaufmann  in the case of Allied enemy approximation. Kaufmann had in mid-April agreed under the influence of close companions and the Minister of Armaments Albert Speer, including the military commandant of Hamburg, Major General Alwin Wolz, and most representative of the economy, that further destruction after the bombing of 1943 had severely damaged the city, like the industrial plants and Shipyards, they feared a military defence of Hamburg would result in further destruction and decided to surrender the city to the British without a fight.  Furthermore the leaders of both factions feared looting by freed forced labourers and reprisals by the victors. With this foreseeable encounter in mind,  the capture of the city of half-starved prisoners and victims of mass crimes, they wanted the city free from concentration camp wretched figures.(KZ-Elendsgestalten) The solution was to put inmates onto ships.
  Since Bassewitz-Behr had no alternative camp for receiving the Neuengamme prisoners, according to his statements, it was Kaufmann who proposed to accommodate inmates on boats preferable onto merchant vessels. In his 1946 trial, while he was tried in court to verify his involvement, during investigation (Ermittelungsverfahren) Basewith-Behr said: "Since transferring prisoners onto ships, I asked myself the question as to the issue of procurement of utilities (kitchens, latrines, and so on) that was hardly available in setting up a new camp, and questioned the security of a camp, on vessels, no fence required, very easy to solve, I grabbed this proposal and instructed Pauly to immediately contact the Reich Commissioner for maritime transport in connection with his agent and consider the possibility of establishing an alternate accommodation on these ships".  The last approximately 10,000 prisoners who were still in the main camp, the SS brought them in the days from April 21 to 26 to Lübeck and from there on two ships were the "CAP ARCONA" was anchored off Neustadt, the luxury liner of  Hamburg-Süd, which Kaufmann, in  his capacity as Reich Commissioner for the shipping requisitioned as a 'floating concentration camp'. Due to the overcrowding and lack of food and drinking water, there prevailed indescribable conditions on board. On May 3, 1945 British bombers attacked the ships, which they regarded as a troop transporters. While the "ATHENS" had taken only three small bombs and the attack with 1,998 prisoners on board survived largely unscathed, the attack with about 4,200 on the "CAP ARCONA" and about 2,800 on the "Thielbek", this was for the pent-up prisoners a catastrophe.  Only 400 of them were saved, while 6,600 prisoners burned to death a few hours before their possible liberation on board, or drowned in the Baltic Sea, or were shot during the  attempts. [Ref .: William Long, Cap Arcona, the tragic end of the concentration camp prisoner fleet on May 3, 1945. Dokomentation, Eutin 2005]


The Cap Arcona Maritime Tragedy
The loss of life in the Cap Arcona sinking is among the highest in Maritime History.

Ctsy: BJORN LARSSON Collection

The Cap Arcona was a large German luxury ocean liner formerly of the Hamburg-South America line that was sunk with the loss of many lives when laden with prisoners from concentration camps.The 27,500 gross ton Cap Arcona was launched in 1927, it was considered one of the most beautiful of the time. It carried upper-class travelers and steerage-class emigrants, mostly to South America. In 1940, it was taken over by the Kriegsmarine, the German navy, and used in the Baltic Sea.

In the last few weeks of the war in Europe, the Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte, vice-president of the Red Cross, was organising the removal of Danish and Norwegian prisoners from German concentration camps to neutral Sweden — a scheme known as the White Buses. In practice the scheme also included other nationalities.

On April 26, 1945, the Cap Arcona was loaded with prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg and was brought into the Bay of Lübeck along with two smaller ships, Athen and Thielbek. During these days, around 140 French-speaking, West European prisoners were transferred from the Thielbek to the Magdalena for transportation to hospitals in Sweden. This rescue operation was actioned by utilising information from British Intelligence, indicating their knowledge of the deportees on board.

Ctsy: Wikipedia
Ctsy: Wikipedia

On May 3, 1945, four days after Hitler's suicide but four days before the unconditional surrender of Germany, the Cap Arcona, the Thielbek, and the passenger liner SS Deutschland ,converted to a hospital ship but not marked as such, were sunk in four separate, but synchronized, attacks by RAF Typhoons of 83 Group of the 2nd Tactical Air Force as part of general attacks on shipping in the Baltic.

Hawker Typhoon Mark 1B fighter-bombers used "60lb" rocket projectiles, bombs, and 20 mm cannon.

                                              ATTACHING 60 LB WARHEADS

The survivors from the sinking who reached the shore were shot by SS troops, although 350 prisoners managed to escape from the massacre. Allan Wyse, formerly of 193 Fighter Squadron said "WE USED OUR CANNON FIRE AT THE CHAPS IN THE WATER….WE SHOT THEM UP WITH 20 mm CANNONS IN THE WATER.HORRIBLE THING BUT WE WERE TOLD TO DO IT AND WE DID IT. THAT’S WAR.”About 490 of the various guards, SS and crew were rescued by German boats.Photos of the burning ships, listed as Deutschland, Thielbek, and Cap Arcona, and survivors swimming in the frozen Baltic Sea were taken on a reconnaissance mission over Bay of Lübeck by F-6 aircraft of the USAAF's 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron around 5:00 PM, shortly after the attack.

For weeks after the sinking, bodies of the victims were being washed ashore, where they were collected and buried in a single mass grave at Neustadt in Holstein. For nearly thirty years, parts of skeletons were being washed ashore, until the last find, by a twelve-year-old boy, in 1971.

As a light rain began to fall on the afternoon of May 3, 1945, British soldiers of 6 Commando, 1st Special Services Brigade, searched the beaches of Neustadt, Germany, on the Baltic Sea for survivors. The bodies of men, women, and even small children lay by the hundreds on the sands. Offshore, under a gray, smoke filled sky, the soldiers could see the the still-smoldering hulk of the former luxury liner, the Cap Arcona, and scores of other damaged ships. A highly effective RAF bombing and rocket raid had destroyed the fleet and killed over 7,000 concentration camp inmates who had been imprisoned on the ships.

One soldier found a girl of about seven clutching the hand of a woman beside her. He presumed she was the girl’s mother. Both bodies were clad in black-and-white-striped wool garments of concentration camp prisoners. The heads and shoulders of floating corpses were visible just offshore, as victims of all ages drifted in. Even a full year later, the bodies were still washing up.
It’s a story no one would tell. The British government ordered the records to be sealed for 100 years. The sinking of one of the most glamorous ocean liners of the early twentieth century just had it’s 62nd anniversary, appears in no history books. The governments of Germany and Great Britain continue to to refuse either to discuss it or release pertinent records. So another war atrocity remains mostly a secret, like several other sinkings during the time period. 7000 dead is an awfully lot to not even be able to mention it, but that is the way wars are run.
Ctsy: Wikipedia

 The sinking of the KZ- ships, which is at the same time  one of the largest maritime disasters in history, the death marches, and the terrible conditions in the death camps of Bergen-Belsen, Sandbostel and Wöbbelin, all this shows, that at the end of the Neuengamme concentration camp was an Inferno. The number of prisoners who died in the last three weeks of the war can only be estimated. It can be assumed to be over 16,000.

 After the majority of the prisoners of Neuengamme had left, the camp had to be cleared completely by a 700-strong squad. The SS diligently and deliberately erased all traces of the crimes committed there. Prisoners who belonged to this residual commando, reported that all the huts containing straw and rubbish were cleaned, sometimes even the walls were freshly whitewashed and devious treacherous contraptions like gallows and beating blocks were removed. In addition to clearing up and dismantling, the SS undertook the destruction of all command records, documents of the Political Department, Camp Gestapo, and further all of the files, in the camp's written material.
 The last prisoners and SS men left Neuengamme on May 2, 1945. When British soldiers shortly afterwards entered the camp, although they were faced by a huge site with a number of  barracks before them, what had happened there, apparently in this place, there was no traces.  Neuengamme, which had been completely cleared and it was one of the large camps, no pictures of terror went around the world.
  Proven figures of prisoners who died in Neuengamme and sub-camps or end at the end of the war,  in the course of clearing, a total of at least 42,900 people is estimated, including executions of prisoners by the Gestapo and Justice Department.. In addition, several thousand prisoners who died after their transfer to other concentration camps or immediately after the war to consequences of their incarceration. This means that probably  over half of the prisoners of concentration camps.did not survive the Nazi persecution. [Previous estimates assumed that 55,000 prisoners were in the concentration camp Neuengamme, including sub-camps that died. sic]

Allied Attacks Killed Thousands of Concentration Camp Inmates

By Mark Weber

All prisoners of German wartime concentration camps who perished while in German custody are routinely regarded as "victims of Nazism" -- even if they lost their lives as direct or indirect result of Allied policy. Similarly, all Jews who died in German captivity during World War II -- no matter what the cause of death -- are counted as "victims of the Holocaust."

This view is very misleading, if not deceitful. In fact, many tens of thousands of camp inmates and Jews lost their lives as direct and indirect victims of Allied action, or of the horrors of the Second World War. For example, the many thousands of Jews who perished in the notorious Bergen-Belsen camp during and after the final months of the war in Europe, including Anne Frank, were primarily victims not of German policy, but rather of the turmoil and chaos of war.

Among the German concentration camp prisoners who perished at Allied hands were some 7,000 inmates who were killed during the war's final week as they were being evacuated in three large German ships that were attacked by British war planes. This little-known tragedy is one of history's greatest maritime disasters.

The Cap Arcona, launched in May 1927, was a handsome passenger ship of the "Hamburg-South America" line. At 27,000 gross registered tons, it was the fourth-largest ship in the German merchant marine. For twelve years -- until the outbreak of war in 1939 -- she had sailed regularly between Hamburg and Rio de Janeiro. In the war's final months she was pressed into service by the German navy to rescue refugees fleeing from areas in the east threatened by the Red Army. This was part of a vast rescue operation organized by the German navy under the supervision of Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. All but unknown in the United States today, this great undertaking saved countless lives. The Thielbek, a much smaller ship of 2,800 gross registered tons, was also used to transport refugees as part of the rescue operation.

Fire on the Cap Arcona. Photograph taken by a British reconnaissance aircraft, 3 May 1945
In April 1945, Karl Kaufmann, Gauleiter of Hamburg and Reich Commissioner for merchant shipping, transferred the Cap Arcona and the Thielbek from naval command, and ordered them to Neustadt Bay in the Baltic Sea near the north German city of Lübeck.

Some 5,000 prisoners hastily evacuated from the Neuengamme concentration camp (a few miles southeast of Hamburg) were brought on board the Cap Arcona between April 18 and 26, along with some 400 SS guards, a naval gunnery detail of 500, and a crew of 76. Similarly the Thielbek took on some 2,800 Neuengamme prisoners. Under the terrible conditions that prevailed in what remained of unoccupied Germany during those final weeks, conditions for the prisoners on board the two vessels were dreadful. Many of the tightly packed inmates were ill, and both food and water were in very short supply.

On the afternoon of May 3, 1945, British "Typhoon" fighter-bombers, striking in several attack waves, bombarded and fired on the Cap Arcona and then the Thielbek. The two ships, which had no military function or mission, were flying many large white flags. "The hoisting of white flags proved useless," notes the Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. The attacks were thus violations of international law, for which -- if Britain and not Germany had been the vanquished power -- British pilots and their commanders could have been punished and even executed as "war criminals."

The Thielbek, struck by rockets, bombs and machine gun fire, sank in just 15-20 minutes. British planes then fired on terror-stricken survivors who were struggling in rescue boats or thrashing in the cold sea. Nearly everyone on board the Thielbek perished quickly, including nearly all the SS guards, ship's officers and crew members. Only about 50 of the prisoners survived.

The burning Cap Arcona took longer to go under. Many inmates burned to death. Most of those who were able to leap overboard drowned in the cold sea, and only some 350-500 could be rescued. During the next several days hundreds of corpses washed up on nearby shores, and were buried in mass graves. Having sunk in shallow water, the wreck of the capsized Cap Arcona remained partially above water as a grim reminder of the catastrophe.

A German reference work, Verheimlichte Dokumente, sums up:

    A particularly barbaric Allied war crime was the bombing on May 3, 1945, by British Royal Air Force planes of the passenger ships Cap Arcona and Thielbek in the Lübeck bay, packed with concentration camp inmates. Among the many 'nameless' victims were many prominent political figures, a fact that is hushed up today because the fact that concentration camp inmates, many of them resistance fighters against Hitler, perished as victims of the terror of the 'liberators' does not conform to the portrayal of the 'reeducators'.

Another reference work, Der Zweite Weltkrieg (1985), notes:

    A unique tragedy is the end on May 3, 1945, of the 'Hamburg-South' passenger steamship Cap Arcona and the steamship Thielbek, both carrying concentration camp prisoners on board who believed that they were saved, but who were now bombed in the Neustadt Bay by Allied air planes. On the Cap Arcona alone, more than 5,000 perished -- ship personnel, concentration camp inmates, and SS guards.

Nuestadt-Lübeck as it looks now, picture I took during my visit, the river is the Travemünde, where the bodies floated towards the Baltic Sea, visible in the right background. sic.
The deaths on May 3, 1945, of some 7,000 concentration camp prisoners -- victims of a criminal British attack -- remains a little-known chapter of World War II history. This is all the more remarkable when one compares the scale of the disaster with other, much better known maritime catastrophes. For example, the well-known sinking of the great British liner Titanic on April 15, 1912, took "only" 1,523 lives.

Actually, among the greatest naval disasters in history are the Baltic Sea sinkings of three other German vessels by Soviet submarines in the first half of 1945: the Wilhelm Gustloff, on January 30, 1945, with the loss of at least 5,400 lives, mostly women and children; the General Steuben on February 10, 1945, with the loss of 3,500, mostly refugees and wounded soldiers; and, above all, the Goya on April 16, 1945, taking the lives of some 7,000 refugees and wounded soldiers.

Sources: Fritz Brustat-Naval, Unternehmen Rettung (Herford: Koheler, 1970), pp. 197-201; C. Zentner & F. Bedürftig, eds., The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (New York: Da Capo, 1997), pp. 126, 644-645, 952; W. Schütz, Hrsg., Lexikon: Deutsche Geschichte im 20. Jahrhundert (Rosenheim: DVG, 1990), pp. 66, 455; Dr. Bernhard Steidle, Hrsg., Verheimlichte Dokumente, Band 2 (Munich: 1995), pp. 212, 230; "Britische RAF mordete Tausende KZ-Häftlinge," National-Zeitung (Munich), May 19, 2000, p. 11; Kay Dohnke, "5 Minuten, 50 Meter, 50 Jahre: Gedenken an die Cap Arcona, nach einem halben Jahrhundert," taz: die tageszeitung (Hamburg Ausgabe), May 3, 1995, also on line at; "The Cap Arcona, the Thielbek and the Athen," on line at; Konnilyn G. Feig, Hitler's Death Camps (New York: 1981), p. 214; Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust (New York: 1986), p. 806; M. Weber, "Bergen-Belsen: The Suppressed Story," May-June 1995 Journal of Historical Review, pp. 23-30; M. Weber, "History's Little-Known Naval Disasters," March-April 1998 Journal, p. 22.

For further reading, these books are available: Rudi Goguel, Cap Arcona (Frankfurt/Main: Röderberg, 1972); Günter Schwarberg, Angriffsziel Cap Arcona (Hamburg: Stern-Buch, 1983/ Göttingen: Steidi, 1998), with portions on line at; Wilhelm Lange, Cap Arcona: Dokumentation (Eutin: Struve, 1988).
For a detailed account of the above disaster, refer to the book "Failed to Return", by Roy Nesbit, page 170. Also, refer to copies of "Stern"Magazine, 3/3/1983, 10,24,31/1983, & 7/4/1983. Also "Daily Telegraph" 6,10,13,15 & 17/3/1983 & 3/5/1983. Also "Lloyds War Losses-Second World War-Volume 3". Also "Agent Extraordinary", G. Martelli, Collins Books, London, 1960

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Despite these difficult conditions prisoners still tried to resist the structural hierarchy of the Camp Administration, which took place in various forms, and initially included contact with each other and thus to organize themselves illegally into cells. First they formed national resistance groups in small circles, and later an international Camp Committee was established, whose influence was largely confined to a narrow faction of political Prisoner Functionaries, while the majority of prisoners had neither knowledge nor gained directly from any activity they perused. Meaningful were the dissemination of intercepted radio messages (also using self-made receivers) and the allocation of lighter work for those inmates already severely weakened.
Due to the interaction of Eminent Persons [These are, in particular, the Polish inmate doctor Maurycy Mittelstaedt and French professors Florence, Prenant and Quenouille as well as the Communist Albin Lüdtke from the Rhineland and Andre Mandrycxs from Ghent/Belgium working in the camp offices sic]. These prisoners employed in the offices and in hospital districts that performed spectacular acts of defiance, often narrated about the theft of drugs from SS held supplies, that of hiding patients from selections or falsifying of data in the camp records for the rescue of prisoners. Only to mention one example of December 1943 while prisoners working in the office had became aware that a 27-year-old Soviet military doctor who had his Jewish origins kept hidden, was scheduled to be hanged. With the cooperation of several Functionary Prisoners made it possible that Sergej Kartaschow (the victim) was under the pretext as being sick on the same day transferred into the infirmary. In the morgue, lay a body of about the same age and similar type as Kartaschow, who had his number written with a stylus pen removed from his chest and replaced by the number of Soviet doctor. In the Death Register (Totenbuch) Sergej Kartaschow is listed under the date December 21, 1943 as deceased. (The statement reads: "Sergej Kartaschow, RK Nr. 25498, born 03/11/1916, died 21/12/1943 at the failure of the cardiovascular system and pneumonia" in: ANg, Krankenrevier-Totennachweise ) In fact, he was under the name of the actually deceased transferred with the next transport to the sub-camp Salzgitter-Drütte. He was able to experience the end of the war and liberation. His salvation is attributed to the work of the Belgian Communist Andre Mandycxs, who worked in Neuengamme since early 1943 in the labour assignment office, trying to coordinate numerous resistance activities. [The question remains what happened to Kartaschow after his return to the Sowjet-Union, as Stalin considered all former POW's as traitors.
Some Soviet POWs who survived German captivity were accused by the Soviet authorities of collaboration with the Nazis or branded as traitors under Order No. 270, which prohibited any soldier from surrendering During and after World War II freed POWs went to special "filtration" camps. Of these, by 1944, more than 90 per cent were cleared, and about 8 per cent were arrested or condemned to serve in penal battalions. In 1944, they were sent directly to reserve military formations to be cleared by the NKVD. Further, in 1945, about 100 filtration camps were set up for repatriated Ostarbeiter, POWs, and other displaced persons, which processed more than 4,000,000 people. By 1946, 80 per cent civilians and 20 per cent of POWs were freed, 5 per cent of civilians, and 43 per cent of POWs were re-drafted, 10 per cent of civilians and 22 per cent of POWs were sent to labour battalions, and 2 per cent of civilians and 15 per cent of the POWs (226,127 out of 1,539,475 total) were transferred to the NKVD, i.e. the Gulag. Thousands of Soviet POWs indeed survived through collaboration, many of them joining German forces, including the SS formations. sic]
The prisoners’ showers, camp detention area, and prisoners’ kitchen in the former camp. In the background on the  left are the brick prisoners’ barracks, which still stand today.
 The support services were generally limited to members of their own group. Group solidarity in general, encompassing all, was usually far less in evidence. In view of the hunger in particular, combined with hard work and SS terror, the first and foremost precondition was for their own survival. Against this background, the relief efforts for the 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war who came in October 1941 to Neuengamme and were secreted by the SS, is in particular worth remarking about. Prisoners of different groups, one of their initiators was the kitchen Kapo Bernhard Wolf, a prisoner with the green triangle, led a bread collections programme  for the ragged and totally unnourished Red Army soldiers. Several prisoners declared themselves ready to provide medical assistance for them in this special section of the camp, including four Polish doctors and one German.
A Soviet POW with a loaf of bread. June 1941'
 Such examples of unselfish assistance are among the supporting documents is a fraction for a split up of the inmate population, were individual interests to fight for their own survival, barely bridged the dividing lines. They ran between about ten percent of the 'Prominierten', while the mass of prisoners in their entangled life of the daily struggles of survival was paramount and at the lowest end the stationary and already scarred by the death, the fate of the 'Mussulmans'. Attempts to escape by fleeing the terror was very controversial among the prisoners and of dire consequences, the SS left the prisoners usually so long on the assembly grounds until the escapee was captured and had right from start of his attempt virtually no chance of success. The adjutant of the commandant of Neuengamme estimated the number of attempts to escape from the concentration camp  and sub-camps to about 400 to 500. However, no case of a successful escape before April 1945 for the main camp is known to this day.
With the turn of the war in 1942 a new phase in the development of the concentration camp system, aimed at the widest possible use of the work potential of the prisoners on arms and other war functions, commercial or military projects was planned. The SS who had previously faced the idea of a prisoner use in the defence industry and saw this as an adverse move, they finally agreed under pressure of growing labour shortages, that is was  for security reasons and in view of its subsequent financial benefits that private or state-owned companies would relocate their production directly to or into the camp sites.
Then several armaments factories were relocated into Neuengamme, the construction activities were carried out under the direction of the SS construction management by prisoners. In March 1942, thus began the operation for the Hamburger "Engine Factory (Motorenfabrik) Carl Jastram" where finally up to 300 prisoners in engine and shipbuilding (Torpedo ejection pipes and water tanks for submarines, repair of boat engines) were employed. Up to 150 prisoners  were in the"German Measuring Apparatus GmbH"(Messap), whose main operation was in Hamburg-Langenhorn  also had concentration camp prisoners and forced labourers who were mainly engaged in producing time fuses for grenades. For both operations six workshop-barracks were built south of the brickworks factory (Klinkerwerke).

'Prisoners at work in the commando Messap'. Note: This is an illegal picture-taking of a civilian worker.
A new expansion area was created for the "Metalworks Neuengamme GmbH", a subsidiary of the Thuringian weapons manufacturer Carl Walther, an over 10,000-square-meter manufacturing plant with elongated major axis and three transverse wings had to be dug. This plant was listed under the code name "production site"(Fertigungsstelle). It started in the second half of 1942, excavation and construction work was a dreaded work detail. In contrast, the conditions in production environments improved somewhat although they had started assembling the pistol Pi-38 in makeshift shacks already in January 1943, but in the new factory system after changing the product line on the self-loading rifle K-43 and after delivery of all machinery which was only completely finished in the second half of 1944 with about 900 to 1.000 prisoners working there. In a large-built Barracks complex in 1943/44 the "Industiehof" which was the SS-owned "German equipment plants"(Deutschen Ausrüstungswerke), were mainly for the supplies of the Waffen-SS, for example, they manufactured garrison furniture, camouflage nets, boxes and cartridges pouches.


The functional change was accompanied in the case of KZ Neuengamme a restructure in commander postings. After Martin Weiss (Weiß) was appointed with effect from 1 September 1942 as commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, to Neuengamme came the previously operating as commander in Stutthof Obersturmführer Max Pauly, who succeed him. Himmler and Pohl, head of the SS-WVHA, considered both, the qualified electrical engineer Weiss, and as a trained trader (Kaufmann)  Pauly suitable in realizing the required economization of the camp and the efficient use of available prison labour.
 In the course of efforts during 1942 to use prisoners on a large scale in the armament production, the WVHA ordered measures to reduce the mortality rate in the camps to improve inmate care and thereby increase performance, this brought in Neuengamme a number of changes with it, (establishment of additional medical facilities, permission to use inmate doctors, permission to receive parcels from home, abolition of particularly cruel punishments such as the pole hanging, introduction of a bonus system and permission to participate in cultural and sporting activities). For the majority of prisoners, however, the living conditions due to the poor food situation and the ruthless extortion of labour continued to deteriorate. Also, abuse and harassment remained on the daily agenda. The situation was different in case of skilled workers. Here was the economic interest of the SS, and in some cases significantly improved the survival chances of these prisoners.

'Commandant Max Pauly handing out medals to several guards in the SS compound.' Note: The 'V' sign worn on the right sleeve, indicates a member of the NS-Führer-Corps, performing indoctrination of National Socialistic Political Ideology during recruit trainings, a similar functions as Political Commissars in the Red Army.'

Already since 1942  prisoner working commandos, contrary to the original intent of the SS, had been used on outside industrial sites.  As early as April 1942, 500 detainees had been transferred to a Volkswagen factory-owned "Arbeitsdorf" (Workers Village), which was in fact self-administrated in the initial phase but still under the guidance of the Neuengamme commander Martin Weiss. The first-built satellite camp by private Enterprises outside the camp were erected in August 1942 at the Phrix plants in Wittenberg. This was the first ever own concentration camp in a non-business enterprise, and in October 1942 at the 'Reichswerke Hermann Göring' in Salzgitter-Drütte. At the same time, 1,000 prisoners of Neuengamme were transferred as SS-brigade number II  to Bremen and Osnabrück to do clean-up jobs there after bomb attacks in affected areas of these cities. In the following years prisoner were engaged still further north in German main centres such as Hamburg, Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, on factory transshipment sites and after major attacks on the Reich Railway Network in Soest/Bad Sassendorf, Uelzen, columns of prisoners removed debris from collapsed dangerous and vulnerable ruins, took part in recovering corpses and their subsequent disposal or burial,  and as special commandos, a highly skilled function, (Feuerwerker) responsible for de-fusing and demolition of unexploded bombs.
Prisoners clearing in the destroyed Hammerbrook district of Hamburg, 1943

In March 1943, the WVHA subordinated the SS Construction Brigade I, to the Neuengamme camp management which was reassigned to the occupied British Channel Island of Alderney in the construction of fortifications.
The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by German Armed Forces. The Germans built four Neuengamme sub-camps on Alderney Island—the Alderney concentration camps—and named them after the Frisian Islands: Lager Norderney, Lager Borkum, Lager Sylt and Lager Helgoland. The Organisation Todt operated each sub-camp and used forced laboureres 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 Spaniards) and Russian forced 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 Russian Organisation of 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.
After World War II, a court-martial case was prepared against former SS Hauptsturmführer List, citing atrocities on Alderney. However, he did not stand trial, and is believed to have lived near Hamburg until his death in the 1980s.

As part of the Atlantic Wall, between 1940 and 1945 the occupying German forces and the Organisation Todt constructed fortifications round the coasts of the Channel Islands such as this observation tower at Battery Moltke, Jersey. Although the Allied Armada passed the Channel Island during D-Day, German artillery did not open fire

In the meantime, the number of inmates in the sub-camps gradually approached that of the main camp at: (August 1943 the main camp held circa 5,800, the sub-camps circa 3,700 inmates). In the second half of 1943 two more locations were added., This was the prison labour used in the accumulator factory at Hannover-Stöcken and in the construction of the submarine bunker "Valentin" in Bremen-Farge.
 The vast number of other sub-camps emerged only in the last year of the war, as branches for them in the defence firms in northern Germany were built. As part of the "Geilenberg program" which had to safeguard production from  bombing the German oil industry, thousands of prisoners had to perform clean-up operations at refineries.
 Towards  the end of the war, the military war economic situation increasingly deteriorated, the National Socialist leadership had decided under pressure due to serious labour shortages in Germany to consider also recruitment among the deported people from extermination camps in the East, where certain Jews had been selected for elimination (the German title reads 'murder') and take them rather for the Reichs-wide use in armament factories. Totalling more than 12,000 Jewish prisoners were allocated for Neuengamme, which the SS had mainly selected from Auschwitz and some other camps, but also directly from Budapest . Only a small part of them remained in the main camp, as most newly built sub-camps in other locations, which were often designed exclusively for Jewish prisoners were available. The majority of them in these camps worked around those heavy building projects such as the construction of an underground tunnel system in Hannover-Ahlen.

Although the main camp Neuengamme remained as a detention facility for men, but from the total of 86-99 sub-camps [some are not clearly defined as such,sic]  24 were occupied by women. The establishment of women's sub-camps all emerged only in the last year of the war, and differed greatly from the general inmate composition. Among female inmates were in the great majority Polish, Czech and Hungarian Jewesses, who were transferred from Auschwitz-Birkenau into sub-camps camps of Neuengamme. The non-Jewish prisoners came mostly from the Ravensbrück concentration camp. The living and working conditions of these women did not differ from those of male prisoners, they also had to do hard physical work during a shift system and  produced, for example, from the clinker plant at Neuengamme,  and manufactured there finished parts to build panel houses for bombed-out apartments in Hamburg.

The "Station"(der Bahnhof) inside the Neuengamme concentration camp, 1944. The siding was prepared in 1943-44. In the wagons as from spring 1944 prisoners and goods were transported into the camp.
The importance of sub-camps shows by the fact that at the end of the war there were three times as many inmates imprisoned in them, than in the main camp: At the end of March 1945 the sub- camps had in  the last quarter as indicated in a report by the SS garrison doctor dated 29 March 1945,  39,880 prisoners, including 12,073 women, contributing as slave labour for the war economy. At the same time, up to 14,000 prisoners were held in completely overcrowded Main Camp (Stammlager).
 With the establishment of sub-camps often located in the middle of cities, and individual work assignments even in busy areas with daily trips between locations and the camps,  KZ inmates were increasingly perceived at the end of the war by the civilian the population. Where the jobs were not, or only difficult to define, the prisoners came with foreign forced labourers and German staff members in contact. Sometimes there were little signs of Solidarity, for example, it was reported of secretly surrendered food left behind, but this describes the common reactions through their own experience.  Unfortunately, inmates claimed that in the last years of the war the largely blunted civilian population, treated them with contempt, indifference and looking away.
“And then the people came. We knew there were concentration camps in Germany. I believe almost everyone knew that. We also knew that they weren’t holiday resorts. But what we didn’t know was how these people looked. That was a shock for us. […] There were people that were only skin and bones". [Walter Felgner, Second Officer of the Thielbek. (Interview, 21 January 1983)

                                                                                                                                               CONTINUED UNDER PART 4/