Located in south-east Hamburg, Neuengamme was the largest concentration camp in north-west Germany from 1938 to 1945. More than 100,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned in the main camp and over 85 satellite camps. At least 42,900 prisoners died in the Neuengamme main camp, its satellite camps and during the camp evacuations at the end of the war.
After the war, the British military government used the former concentration camp as an internment camp for three years. In 1948, the city of Hamburg began using the buildings and grounds for its penal system, and it established two prisons there.
In 1965, an international monument was erected on the edge of the grounds. In 1981 an exhibition building (Dokumentenhaus) was built next to it. The Senate of Hamburg’s decision to relocate the prisons then sparked a long political debate, and it was not before 2003 and 2006, respectively, that the two prisons were closed. After this, the memorial could be expanded into a centre for exhibitions, discussions, encounters and historical studies located on the grounds of the former prisoners’ barracks.