Areas of work
Excavation, transport and construction work involved some of the heaviest labour for prisoners at Neuengamme concentration camp.
A five-kilometre stretch of this old arm of the River Elbe was to be widened so that ships could moor at the new brickworks.
The prisoners’ work at the brickworks illustrates the two aims the SS pursued by using concentration camp prisoners as slave labourers: economic profitability and human extermination.
From 1942, the concentration camps were given a more important role within the German war economy. This led to privately owned armaments companies setting up production facilities near Neuengamme concentration camp. The company management of Messap and of Jastram arranged for prisoners working at their plants to be guarded not by SS men, but rather by civilian employees of the arms manufacturers.
Several smaller external commandos worked in the immediate vicinity of the camp, but outside of its confines. Prisoners had to work on local farms or at companies supplying the concentration camp. Prisoners were also forced to clear rubble and unexploded bombs after Allied air raids.