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History of the site

Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp

After the Nazis came to power in Hamburg in early March 1933, they began persecuting their political opponents. Just a few weeks later, the Hamburg police set up a concentration camp in the buildings of the Fuhlsbüttel penal facilities. Here, they indefinitely imprisoned mostly opponents of the regime who had taken part in the resistance activities of communist and social-democratic groups. The initially improvised camp was officially opened on 4 September 1933 when leadership and guard duties at Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp were formally handed over to particularly brutal and unscrupulous members of the SS and SA by order of district Nazi party leader (Gauleiter) and Reich deputy governor (Reichsstatthalter) Karl Kaufmann. Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, referred to as KolaFu at the time, quickly became the epitome of horror, suffering and death. By the time the camp was liberated in May 1945, over 450 men and women had died there. They perished as a result of maltreatment, were murdered or were driven to their death.

The police prison

From 1936, Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp had to be officially designated a police prison "to fend off agitation and atrocity propaganda". Nonetheless, "KolaFu", "Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp" and "Gestapo prison" remained synonyms for this detention facility of the Hamburg police authority. Nearly all of the resistance fighters arrested in Hamburg were brought to KolaFu, along with a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses and Jews from 1935 onwards (there were over 700 new prisoners after the pogroms of 9/10 November 1938). In later years, they were joined by those dissatisfied with the regime, Swing Kids and people persecuted by the Nazis as "antisocial elements" (Asoziale) or "pests harmful to the people" (Volksschädlinge), including Sinti, beggars, homosexuals, prostitutes and others. During the war, many resistance fighters and slave labourers from outside Germany were also imprisoned in KolaFu. For many prisoners, Kola-Fu—in accordance with its function as a police remand centre—was an intermediate stop on the way to prison or jail. Other prisoners were transferred, without having been sentenced, to SS concentration camps such as Buchenwald, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück or Sachsenhausen. For many of them, this meant death.

Penal facilities

The Fuhlsbüttel penal facilities, which were under the control of the judicial authority, were part of the Nazi machinery of persecution. Many inmates were serving prison sentences for "conspiracy to high treason" because of their political opposition to National Socialism. Special courts sentenced people to prison for "malice" simply for expressing discontent. The penal facilities were associated with the machinery of terror in yet another respect: Over 100 inmates of Fuhlsbüttel jail and prisoners in "preventive detention" were transferred to concentration camps from 1942 for "extermination through labour".

Satellite camp

From October 1944 to February 1945, the SS used one part of Fuhlsbüttel jail as a satellite camp of Neuengamme concentration camp. Over 200 concentration camp prisoners from ten different countries died from the inhuman treatment they were subjected to there.


"KolaFu" police prison.
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