Interview with Jürgen Köhler, the priest of Neuengamme church community

Verfasst 16. August 2010 von dashaapple
Kategorien: CAmpdiary

Jürgen Köhler is 74 years old. When you look at him you immediately feel that he is a priest. It is not so easy to describe but he is a very kind and sincere person, sitting near him you feel like you know him for years. And he was sure that while we were talking God was observing us.

The interview was quite long, about an hour. Herr Köhler seemed to be glad to share with us (me and Gesa – girl who is writing her magister work about Hamburg Neuengamme) not only some information but also his feelings. We felt it when he started crying…but let me tell you first what we were speaking about.

In 1969 J.Köhler got an appointment as a priest of the church community Neuengamme. He was living in Königsberg (nowadays it is a part of Russia called Kaliningrad) so he had to move here. And the point was HE HAD NEVER HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT HAMBURG NEUENGAMME. Ausschwitz for example was for him more well-known, but not Neuengamme. Only after a year he found out that there was a concentration camp before. Answering our question – “Why so late? Didn’t people talk about it?” – the direct answer was NO. So no one wanted to talk about Nazis. Of course there might be different explanations. J.Köhler believes people were afraid. But not only. They were full of fury. Fury about the thing the Nazis did here. And shame too. They were ashamed of having not tried to do something, to upraise in a sense. But not all of them. Herr Köhler told us a story about a woman named Gesa Pahl who also belonged to that church community. A nice woman, not taller then 1,6 m. What was really unpleasant for the SS the citizens could see what the SS-men were doing there, in Neuengamme. Especially when the inmates had to broaden and deepen the canal, staying for the half in the water or when new inmates arrived. She was really impressed and wanted to give the prisoners something to eat. When she saw an SS-man she ran to him and started hitting. The other man took her away. It was like an impulse because it was obviously that she could not do anything. Gesa Pahl was never talking about it. Only after her death Herr Köhler found it out, her daughter told it him.

Jürgen Köhler’s story (I can call it a story because he really knows how to talk to people) was not only about feelings. He told us that Hamburg Neuengamme was not the first concentration camp that was built here. The first one was called “Kulafu”. “Ku” for concentration camp,“la” for camp, “fu” for Fulsbüttel  – that was the name for both airport and prison. It was the initiative of the Hamburg senate (NOT ONE OF THE SS) to build in Neuengamme a prison which was supposed to be used for keeping political opposition. But after a while it became too small and in 1936-37 the senate asked the SS to use a bigger territory for broadening the prison. Actually it was about 70 hectares. Only after that the concentration camp was “born”. The information was quite interesting for both me and Gesa and although we already had some background we had never heard about “Kulafu”. On the question “Why is it actually not a well-known fact?” J. Köhler answered that the senate obviously did not want to take any kind of responsibility for the “birth” of Hamburg Neuengamme. But as we can see it still had some.

Then we moved to discussing the inmates’ activity. Taking into account practical reasons some firms settled close as to Neuengamme as well as to the other concentration camps so as the inmates did not have to make a long way through the city. The prisoners were actually not allowed to move far away from the camp. The working time was about 12-14 hours per day. Sometimes the inmates had to do some exact (careful work) so it was important that the hands did not shake. But you can imagine how difficult it is when a SS-man is staying near you and can hit you every time even if you have not done anything wrong. That is why the firm “Walter” put a condition that no SS-man could enter the room while the inmates were working. For the inmates it was some kind of a rest when they could feel them calm and safe enough.  

In spring 1945 the ships where the SS tried to carry out the inmates before the allies came were bombed. In the mid 1940-s Herr Köhler could not be an eyewitness of that tragedy, but his sister did. She was about 44 and could very clearly realize what happened. On that day she moved to Nordstein – a town close to the North Sea. Only after several decades she could start talking about it. You can imagine how much it impressed her.

After the war came to an end there were plans to build the prison on the place of former concentration camp, here in Neuengamme. The most awful thing is that it was supposed to be prison for youth. Actually the reason for that decision was just practical advantage, especially because they were going to use old bricks for it. There were active protests which J. Köhler and the other citizens took part at. Only a new mayor of Hamburg changed the situation and decided to establish here a memorial.

Actually these are the main points. I tried not to avoid any details making this summary. I hope that it would be useful and interesting for you Jürgen Köhler is a really nice person and making interview with him was just pleasure:)


Tuesday, 04.08.2010

Verfasst 13. August 2010 von hyewon419
Kategorien: CAmpdiary

   Today the first place we went to visit is the Main Exhibition. Karin showed us the inmates´ clothes and explained each different triangle sewed to the clothes. Purple for the Johova´s Witness, red identified the political ones, pink is the homosexual, green for the communists or socialists ( I am  sure about this, anyone knows??:) ), those who considered ‘losers’ of the society, unemployed, prostituted, alcoholics, etc. And finally, yellow for the Jews.

 She is explaining about the inmates‘ clothes

   It is believed that the beginning of the concentration camp took its place in 1939, which the WWII started. But actually, this started in 1933. So, in the beginning, the inmates were from Germany instead of other countries. It was little surprising for me. After that, we got audio guides for tour in this concentration camp. Actually, if you want to listen to the whole explanation from the audio guide, it takes six hours and a half. Therefore, I just listened to no.1, no.2, and no.3 about Introduction, the establishment of the Neuengamme concentration camp, and structure of the prisoners’ compound. We separated with an audio guide to where each of us is interested in.

   I was interested in the lives of children of prisoners and the SS guards. Firstly, I started the research exhibition at the former SS garages next to the place where we are staying. This exhibition is about the SS guards and the trials. I watched a video about interviews with children of the SS guards. They didn’t do anything wrong in the past but some of them have to feel guilty, do the interview about their parents and their grandparents, and have bad opinions about them. They have to live with holding bad feelings for their family. This is very absurd and unreasonable. Therefore, I want to know how they lived with these feelings and the history and how the history influenced them. There were some interviews from the children who were not that close to their parents and grandparents who were the members of the SS.

   Also, I wanted to know the lives of prisoners’ children but I had no time. However, fortunately, the children of prisoners visited us at dinner. Some of them helped us to prepare dinner. The dinner menu was Bulgarian and Russian food. The cooks were Maggi, Dasha, and Anton. Maggi cooked her country’s typical dish, “Tarator” which was like yogurt soup and Dasha and Anton cooked Russian food, “Vareniki”. It took a lot, so many people helped them. The dishes were very exotic and delicious.

   After dinner, our guests from “Arbeitsgemanschaft”organization explained the history of the organization and how they have lived. It was very fascinating and interesting for me because I watched a video about the children of the SS guards in the day and heard the lives of the children of prisoners from themselves at night.

   In the night, we had a national presentation. There are some pictures below.

Feedback on the Wansbek-Dräger Female Concentration Camp

Verfasst 13. August 2010 von eatingchristine
Kategorien: CAmpdiary, Connections

On 10-08-2010 we went to Wansbek – Dräger, where we visited the memorial site of satellite camp for female inmates. There, we interviewed the near-by neighborhoods, in order to get a clearer aspect toward the site.


The followings are some feedbacks toward the interviews we made. Most of the people whom have been interviewed didn’t know much about what had happened in the area, but all conceived the same piece opinion that having this memorial is not only significant but necessary as well. Just like Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father who survived from the Auschwitz concentration camp, once said “In order to build up a future, the past must not be forgotten.” All of the interviewers held the same thoughts. One disappointing part we have to bring up is that the memorial has already been destroyed three times by some annoyers. When we mentioned this fact, all of the interviewers were shocked. One of the old men said, “I think those who ruined the memorial are insane, they have no idea what they were doing.”


The interview was very interesting for us, especially the last person who we interviewed, because his grandparents are one of the survivors of the Pollen concentration camp. We were excited when he shared with us. As far as we are concerned, this memorial means a lot to both survivors and relatives of inmates. So we consider this was an awful and stupid thing to do. Interviewing people was a total new experience for us and a different activity from the past 10 days. We enjoyed it a lot!!!


Verfasst 13. August 2010 von mariosiviglia
Kategorien: CAmpdiary


We arrived here awares to find a surreal atmosphere, but it is impossible to hide the circumstance that only a place as this one can cause strong emotions that marks yourself inevitably.

The Italian presence at Neuengamme can be estimate around 4.000 people, around 1000 of them died at the Neuengamme` s concentration cam or in the satellite camps.

This researching work has not the pretension to assume absolute certainty, but it is opportune trying to report the experiences of some Italian prisoners, only in honor of the truth and nothing else!

We hope that who will come after us can continue in that research to get Italian witness of this black page stronger and full.

by Mario Siviglia and Saverio Gatto





Sergio De Simone was born in Naples on 29 november 1937. The anti-jewish laws of 1938 and the father Enrico’s leaving for war world two induced his mother Gisella to come back home in Fiume. In a first moment life runned in peacefull, then jewish children have been expelled of school and aldult jewish people has been forbidden working. An Gestapo’s informer made an end of  freedom of Sergio, his mother, his grandmother Rosa, his cousins Andra and Tatiana and his Aunt Mira.
They were deported to Risiera di San Sabba prison and from there to Auschwitz on 29 march 1944. There, his grandma Rosa has been despatched directly to the gas-rooms, Sergio, his mother, his cousins Andra and Tatiana worked up Birkenau on foots. All they have been marked with a number.  Sergio became the number 179614!

At the same night Sergio and his cousins have been separated by their mothers and they despatched to the children’s barrack. The name of Sergio appears in a rare medical report signed by Dr. Josef Mengele, it is a quite important document because it confirms the presence of “Bullenhuser Damm’s children” at the Birkenau camp. Sergio never came back from that hell, in fact he probably has been deceived by Mengele who, a morning, went into the children barrack and say:

<< Who wants to see mummy makes a step in front of me >>.  Sergio De Simone will be one of the twenty murdered kids in Bullenhuser Damm and there commemorated with a roses garden.


In Birkenau camp usually jewish children was killed at their arrive, but a few if them, how in the case of Sergio were despatched to a proper barrack called kinderblock. One day twenty of these children, ten males and ten females, have been taken on November 1944. These children, attended by the doctor Paulina Trocki, travelled to Neuengamme into a normal passenger train and they arrived there on 29 november 1944.

On 9 january 1945, the doctor Kurt Heissmayer arrived at Neuengamme to do his experiment about TBC, the aim of these experiment was that to create antibody and preparing some kind of vaccine.

To follow this aim the nazi-doctor used children as medicine-animals, in fact he put into their bodies the TBC bacillus and after some time he operated surgery the children to remove them the glands of lymphatic system for checking if the lymphatic system produced antibodies.

Two French prisoner doctors Gabriel Florence and Renee Quenouille have been forced to help him in this useless and disastrous experiment, but in that moment british troops were too close to the Neuengamme camp and it was necessary deleting all proofs.

The ca mp commander Max Pauli appointed the SS Anton Thumann and the doctor Alfred Trzebinski about this delicate mission.

Children, the two French prisoner doctors, six Russian prisoners and two Dutch nurses were carried on a truck.

The vehicle went to Hamburg at Bullenhus Damm school, meanwhile transformed in a prison, and the SS Arnold Strippel took command of mission.

Prisoners have been carried into the school’ cellar and the doctor Trzebinski injected them morphine to fall them in sleep. When children falled in unconsciousness state, they were hanged on the wall!

Then the two French doctors, Dutch nurses and Russian prisoner were hanged too. Meanwhile another 24 Russian prisoners have been carried to the school, six of them got to run away and the other 18 were hanged also!

In the end at the sunrise of the 20 April 1945 have been counted 48 dead bodies and between them there was the little Sergio De Simone!

He, and others children off course, has been witness about one of most horrible “medical science” page written on the Nazi period, accounted as behind this horror pharmaceutical industry’ business is hide, cause they often financed directly these horrible experiments.

Now I must say that during my experience in Neuengamme the strong moment for me has been when we visited this school in Hamburg. I cannot to hide that when we planted a rose in the school’s garden my heart, and other people also, was crying!


At the end want to finish remember a very brave person, in fact maybe the event of the 20 children would be unknown if a Danish doctor, called Henry Meyer, did not give the children’s list to the Red Cross. I think that every body has to say Thanks to him!



Ida Desandre, Aosta Italy, 10 October 1922.

She been arrested in July 1944, arrested by the fascist, locked in the barracks of Aosta, military barracks, and then in prison of Aosta. Later she went to Turin, in the new prison, passing through San Vittore in Milan, and then she was transferred to Bolzano. Afrter she taked to the field concentration of Bolzano, left for Germany. The first place she ever been in Ravensbruck in the field of, in the Ravensbruck camp she did quarantine. Then later. She was transferred to a work camp, located in the town of Salzgitter-Bad Neuengamme, and she stayed in this area until mid- April, from Mid- April she was transferred again and she ended up in the field of Bergen Belsen.

Ida Desandre was deported to concentration camps because the September 8 there was the defeat of the Italian Army, and she with her husband participated in the Resistence.

She started from Turin, from the prisons of Turin and Milan and loaded on trucks, or the way she did walk to he platform from wich all trains were leaving they brought in Germany.

Her car was a wagon that could hold up 40 people but were more than 100 people, all women, elderly more or less.

She remember that the Transport was then stopped at the station in Innsbruck in the evening, at sunset because and remember perfectly the rays of the sun disappearing behind the mountain. In Innsbruck she had sent down, mostly to send in the toilet, and then immediately gave us back on the train. The train has not stopped more. Many years have passed. She did not remember the other stops, however, aften five days and five nights of travel she arrived at Ravensbruck.

Arrived at Ravensbruck in a sinding – because the track came up there -. She had sent down and put in columns five to five.

A Rayvensbruck went to work, went on the side where there was this pond, there were load of sand on the large trucks, there trucks were placed on the rails, and she had to load, fill these trucks, push, empty, he was certainly a unnecessary work, but even this way to take away our strength, to weaken and make us understand that in fact we were there to suffer here.

In Ravensbruck  camp were all women: young old in short there was a bit of everything, but only women. This field has also been made of experiments on prisoners, experiments also very terrible. What has been  done to she, as so many others, were removing the menstrual eyele, and they put on a table and you were injected directly. A very irritating liquid: this liquid has taken menstruation. From that time until the doctor SS went home, even a period of time after they returned home. She had not had my period. Depriving her, in fact, the menstrual cycle- this way a very serious problem for women- but the Nazis knew very well the consequences of all this because they said she were likes slaves, and slaves are reproduced too quickly, as the mice, so certainly in this sense in seeking a way to eliminate the most people possible. Even for us, we could not procreate maybe more, have more children. This she tink was the purpose of this experiment, and also especially to see the affect on women, removing the menstrual cycle. The effect was then that our bodies are full of two big pimples: pimples away full of pus. And  even the lice head are perfectly accompanied with pimples. In addition to the experiments, then, the selections she chose to take outside the camp of Ravensbruck.

She was chosen to go to work in a factory. In another camp in a field of work, a field called these circles, the shape of the bomb. She did three rounds, she worked from morning, from six am to two or from two to 10 pm, and the night shift.

From Salzgitter (a subfield of Neuengamme) she was transferred because the front was advancing. In a miserable night they made us leave the barracks with horrible screams, and even club and we were loaded into trucks, she have taken away, she suffered a terrible bombing and of a course after this bombardment she had to continue on foot. Following all these miles on foot to arrive in camp Bergen Belsen, she was so thirsty. Lots of thirst, suffer thirst is a very bad thing and hunger. She had with her a piece of bread, a small piece of bread, she not eat because the bread would last her more, she continued to lick all the time we walked. As she entered the camp of Belsen, she was approached by a prisoner who had a bit of water into the bowl that we called the Minska, and made me sign that if she gave that piece of bread, she would leave a sip of water. In the field there was nothing that worked, there was no water, give no more to eat, Nothing, The bodies were all around the field. Corpses piled up, piles and piles of corps.

She was liberated by British Troops on 5 May. She was still several days in this area because the situation was so chaotic, that would also arrange to evacuate the area. The first people who were moved out of the field the people who almost of the prisoners who were almost the last stage. Children were taken away, because there were children and young girls in there.

She was, however, until September, when they returned.

little about the lives of prisoners

Verfasst 13. August 2010 von ainurakg
Kategorien: CAmpdiary


Around 13 million men and women from countries occupied or dependent on Germany were forced to perform slave labour for the German wartime economy during the Second World war either in the German- occupied territories or in side the Reich. This enslavement had severe psychological, social, economical and cultural consequences for many of them. Not only did they have to cope with  being deported from their accustomed surrounding and their homes. All this despite the fact that the German government would not have been able to keep its wartime economy going without their labour.

The factory Walther-Werke

Its metal werke Neuengamme is was constructed on the premises of  Neuengamme concentration camp between 1942 and 1944. 1000 prisoners were working. Work here was much sought after because it offered shelter from all weathers and there were seldom few beatings. Then 1945 this former of factory, today the complex serves as storage space for Hamburg’s museums.


All that time the SS asked the professionals  from the factory to train the prisoners. But after works these professionals had to leave the camp because the inmates knew already how to do the work on their own. 

 During the last three years of the Second World War, all companies in Hamburg from armament manufacturers to companies responsible for covering the local population’s basic needs had to rely on labourers from outside Germany. While the workers from Western Europe generally received pay comparable to that of German workers, “eastern workers” were subject to the extremely high “Russians tax”. The remaining pay they received was so small that they were not even able to buy the most basic at the factory or camp canteens. Most of the slave labourers from outside Germany were still very young –many of them had still attended school before their deportation. They did not understand German and were neither trained no physically strong enough for the tasks they were forced to carry out.

In contrast to workers from Western European countries POWs and slave labourers from Poland and the Soviet Union did not receive food stamps and could not buy food or other  items at shops or eat at inns. For these slave  labourers, entering a public house was a punishable offence. Workers from  Western European were entitled to rations roughly equivalent to those given to German workers. By contrast, the lives of the so-called “eastern workers”, who were considered  “inferior” human beings by the German authorities, were marked by malnutrition and hunger. The absence of fat and animal protein in their diets and the severe lack of vitamins in combination with the extremely hard physical labour often led to a general physical decline in the prisoners and to the appearance of symptoms such as oedemas. The rapid decline of the prisoner’s immune system often led to diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis.

Pay slip

Belgian slave labourers Edmond de Winter’s pay slip issued by the Deutchen  Werft shipyard in may 1943.

For a total of 93 hours of work over 12 days, his a total of 69,75 Reich mark. From his salary was do next deductions:

– Social security

– Income tax

– Church tax 

– fuel advance

– dues for the German Labour Front

– board and lodging

– rent, lighting and electricity

After the deductions, he was left with 36,10 Reich mark

This accrual pocket money, salary which I was very interested. As a banker I want to note that this is just a „robbery“. For example take the first point, social insurance. This means pocket money, salary deduct funds for social security. A worker from The East would never have a chance to get money from the Social Insurance Organisation. SS not only physically destroyed prisoners, but also morally oppressed their spirits.

Front Garden- summary

Verfasst 13. August 2010 von tereza88
Kategorien: CAmpdiary, Connections

Washrooms in concentration camp were different. Washrooms in the wooden huts were equipped with long sinks for hands and feet.

This Waschtroge (round sink) was used in the washroom for block 24 (later 28). It was used for the British authorities´ interment camp between 1945 and 1948 and later for the male offenders of Penal Facility XII until 1950.

Prisoners often had to fight for the place by the tap. There were only 15- 20 taps for hundreds prisoners.
In the washrooms or latrines dead prisoners were put until the commando came to take the dead bodies away.

We together (Maggie, Lena, Marie and Tereza) went to house which is in the old photo. Long time another people in the village did not know the history of the sink. Today it is important place in neighbourhood. We wanted to ask people who live here if they know something about the sink. We had luck because people were really nice and opened. They told us old story of their family and they showed us another sink which was hidden in the corner of the garden among trees.

We spoke with Miss Mührenfeld. She told us the story of the sink. The husband of her sister was SS man in KZ Neuengamme. His name is Michael Palfi. After the liberation of KZ Neuengamme Palfi brought the sink to his house. The sink is not from the part of concentration camp where the prisoners worked. It was near the SS barracks. After that he put it in his garden that was used like a flower sink.
In the time of national socialism she was a child. Her family was against the war and the concentration camp. When soldiers and prisoners were marching trough the village, she couldn´t see them because it was forbidden to watch them. She told us more about the relationship between the village and SS. Many soldiers were young and married with women from the village, near to the concentration camp. Some of the SS people live in the village until today. They decided to stay here. If SS people from foreign countries came back to the country where they had been born, the police would have arrested them and they would have been persecuted. So they stayed in the village because they did not want to be persecuted and to be executed because of the Nazi crimes.
Miss Mührenfeld told us one interesting story about one countess, too. She had relationship with one SS man and she was pregnant. She knew that SS people would have killed her baby. Because of that she was so disappointed, hopeless and scared that she touched the barbed wire with electricity. Today we can see her grave in the cemetery of the village.
Miss Mührenfeld made interview and now we can find it in archive.

Created by Magi, Marie, Tereza

Thursday 12.08.2010

Verfasst 13. August 2010 von masa14
Kategorien: CAmpdiary

Thursday, 12.08.2010

We started the day with a large breakfast as usual and then we all went to do our research until lunch. I had to correct a few things, but then I was finished with my translation!! 😀

That felt so good, really, because I have been struggling with it for the last three days and it was the best feeling ever just to know that it was finished! 😀

This day the main chef was Christine. With some help she prepared us a typical soup from Taiwan, made from different vegetables, meat and noodles.  🙂 I liked it so much I had to take another portion.  🙂

After lunch we decided to rather take the bus than going by bike. What a relief, at least for me, because the sun was so strong, that it was actually too hot for a bike.  🙂

By bus and by S Bahn we then drove to the memorial Bullenhuser Damm in Hamburg, where twenty Jewish children, four adults and twenty-four Soviet soldiers were hanged in school. We visited that school and I think it was very moving for us all, because Karin told us the stories of the hanged children and what was even more frightening, was, that we were actually sitting in the rooms, where children got killed and Karin told us how they waited in the rooms not knowing what was going to happen to them. However, the most awful thing is probably that not all SS men, who were responsible for this killing, were captured.  Some of them got away with it. :S

However, it was very touching to see that a lot of people, especially children from schools that visit the place, leave stones and letters written for the children in commemoration.

At the end, we planted a flower for them in the memorial garden next to the school.

We continued our trip to the centre of Hamburg to the art gallery Kunst Halle and Kunst der Gegenwart. We actually got the tickets for free!  There you could see works of different artists, from Monet, Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso etc.; it was something to really look at.

After that, we had some spare time for ourselves. Even though we could go shopping or something else, everyone was so hungry, that we just went to get something to eat.

We went through numerous streets until we found one restaurant, which was quite expensive. Therefore, the Italian guys and Jose then decided to take us to an Italian restaurant where they had already been before and they knew the food was delicious.

Since Italians worked in that restaurant, the guys got really along with them so we were able to get a mixture of different pasta, not just one kind and it cost only 4 euros! 🙂 They also put on Italian music and brought us focaccia (sort of bread), just for us!

After that we met the others at the city hall and went to the park where there was some sort of a concert. We were at the lake and classical music was playing and then with music the shape and the colour of water were changing. It was so beautiful to see.

In the end, we finally arrived in Neuengamme. A lot of people were really tired and decided to go to bed, but some of us decided to stay awake and have a party because this was the last night for Jose and Lena and we thought it would be nice if they would have a nice farewell.

I think the night was a success, people were dancing and talking until the morning, but then it was time to go to bed. A lot of work had to be done the next day!