In mid-April 1945, "evacuation transports" from the satellite camps of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp and from the Hannover-Stöcken satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp reached the Gardelegen region. Bombing raids had destroyed locomotives and railway tracks, preventing the trains carrying the prisoners from going any farther than Mieste near Gardelegen. The prisoners were therefore taken off the trains and forced to continue on foot in several columns. These death marches, during which several hundred prisoners were beaten to death or shot, ended at an evacuated barracks in Gardelegen.
On the night of 13 April 1945, after consulting with the local Nazi Party official Gerhard Thiele, the SS drove the prisoners out of the city and into an isolated barn on the Isenschnibbe estate. The SS then set light to the straw in the barn, which had been soaked with petrol. 1,016 prisoners burned to death, suffocated or were shot by the SS as they attempted to escape the flames.
American troops reached Gardelegen on the evening of 14 April. They arranged for the victims of the massacre be interred properly in individual graves and ordered the residents of Gardelegen and the surrounding towns to bury the bodies.
An der Gedenkstätte 1
By car: From Hamburg, take B 71 toward Salzwedel and Magdeburg, in Gardelegen turn onto B 188 heading toward Stendal and Gardelegen city centre, where there are signs leading to the memorial. From the centre of Gardelegen, take Bismarker Straße heading toward the towns of Bismark, Kalbe, and Hemstedt. Follow the signs to the memorial.
By train: From Hannover or Braunschweig via Wolfsburg | From Berlin or Magdeburg via Stendal | From the Gardelegen train station, call the City-Rufbus to take bus 2, or walk the 4 km to the memorial.
By bus: Take bus 100 from Magdeburg or Salzwedel (Altmark-Heide-Express) to the Gardelegen train station, from there call the City-Rufbus and take bus 2, or walk the 4 km to the memorial.
In 1945, the local commander of the US 102nd Infantry Division ordered that the victims of the massacre at the barn on the Isenschnibbe estate in Gardelegen should receive a proper grave and a memorial plaque located directly next to the barn. In 1953, the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) of East Germany commissioned the city to erect a memorial at the site of this crime. This was completed in the 1970s and still stands today. On 1 May 2015, the memorial became part of the Saxony-Anhalt Memorials Foundation. The Hanseatic city of Gardelegen continues to maintain the cemetery. The already existing outdoor memorial will gradually be converted into a modern memorial site with a visitor and documentation centre, a permanent exhibition and educational programmes.
The grounds are accessible at all times during the day. Guided tours are available for booking on request.
Gedenkstätte Feldscheune Isenschnibbe Gardelegen
Stiftung Gedenkstätten Sachsen-Anhalt
c/o Hansestadt Gardelegen