In autumn 1944, Department C (Amtsgruppe C) of the SS Economic Administration Main Office (SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt) established so-called SS Railway Construction Brigades to supplement the SS Construction Brigades and repair destroyed railway tracks and stations. These construction brigades, which usually consisted of 500 prisoners, had to live in railway carriages and were driven to their places of work in these "concentration camps on rails".
On 8 February 1945, 504 male prisoners from Neuengamme concentration camp were assembled to form the 11th SS Railway Construction Brigade. On 13 February 1945, the group was transported by goods train from Neuengamme to Soest, where it arrived two days later. There, the prisoners were forced on behalf of the Reichsbahn (Reich railway company) to repair the tracks of the Soest railway station, which had been destroyed in 1944. The prisoners slept in the goods cars which were parked on the tracks between Soest and Bad Sassendorf. At the end of February, these cars were hit by Allied bombs and at least 33 prisoners died. They were replaced by other prisoners from Neuengamme main camp. After this attack, the concentration camp prisoners were housed at a nearby farm.
On 4 or 5 April 1945, the Soest-Bad Sassendorf satellite camp was evacuated. A small group of sick prisoners remained behind while the other prisoners were forced to march to Höxter, where they were loaded on to a train. One group of these prisoners was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, while another was sent to Dachau. On 4 May 1945, a third group of 206 prisoners arrived at the Ebensee satellite camp of Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.
8 February 1945 to 4/5 April 1945
504 Male Prisoners
Railway track construction
59505 Bad Sassendorf
At the cemetery in Bad Sassendorf, there is a memorial stone in the burial ground for the victims of the SS Construction Brigade. However, the inscription on the stone provides no information about the historical events which it commemorates. At the suggestion of the Soest city archivist, the Bad Sassendorf council erected a new memorial plaque with an appropriate inscription on 7 May 1995.
59505 Bad Sassendorf
Tel.: +49 (0) 2921 – 6 63 96 12
Fax: +49 (0) 2921 – 6 63 96 99