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The end

In summer 1944, the SS began clearing the concentration camps close to the front. The prisoners and production facilities classed as kriegswichtig ("important to the war effort") were transferred to numerous new satellite camps deep inside the Reich. When the concentration camps inside the Reich were cleared as well in spring 1945, the state had very few camps left at its disposal.  Nevertheless, the SS tried to keep the prisoners under their control for as long as possible.

The closing down of the Neuengamme concentration camp complex started on 24 March 1945 with the clearance of the satellite camps in the Emsland region on the Dutch border. In early April, the camps in the Weserbergland region, Wilhelmshaven, Hanover, Braunschweig and Salzgitter were cleared as well. The last camps to be disbanded were the satellite camps in Bremen and Hamburg.

 

Aerial photograph of Neuengamme concentration camp taken on 16 April 1945 by the Royal Air Force shortly before the clearance of the camp. British troops did not take Neuengamme concentration camp until 2 May. Just a few hours before, the SS had left the camp with the last prisoners. (British Ministry of Defence)
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